The Canada Line went into service just about 10 years ago, as a rapid transit connection between the City of Vancouver’s downtown and the international airport in Richmond.
Tower development along the new line has been significant, although Vancouver’s plan for how it should fit together (the 276-page Cambie Corridor plan) was only recently completed.
North of the Fraser River oddly-named Marine Landing precinct (there were no Marines in sight on the day I visited, or uniformed servicepeople of any kind) is taking shape around the Marine Drive transit station.
Our friend Calvin Hutton met me at the station on a cold April morning. We found that the 100-metre-long retail lane outside the station gate makes an excellent wind tunnel. We walked from there to Oakridge, which is two stations to the north, through residential streets, parks and trails. We finished with an early lunch at Samurai Sushi, a busy takeout place that specializes in quantity.
What I noticed about the Marine Landing area was the sudden transitions from industrial to single-family residential to high-density. What looks like a former print shop is now a church, with an automobile repair business dated 1932 at the back of the same building, just across the alley from a co-op housing complex. The training centre for Montessori teachers is upstairs from a car leasing showroom. This is the kind of mashup that North American urban planners were trained to avoid through most of the 20th century, but it is actually very much to my taste.
Cambie and Marine are broad, busy streets — highways, really — and it is hard to envision this intersection as the heart of an urban village. However, the services are arriving one by one — drug store, doctor, dentist — and there is more development on the way on the back streets, as a two-block area of houses is ripped out for something bigger — possibly including a food store? The city’s plan calls for more green space and a trail to the river.
At the same time, the city needs to protect the industrial uses that runs for three kilometres east and west of Cambie along the river. Too much industrial land in Metro Vancouver has been gobbled up for more chic purposes, especially in the City.