August 14, 2018

Vancouver’s New Oakridge — Pedestrian Thoroughfare

Thanks to several commenters on THIS Price Tags post who are concerned about the pedestrian realm planned for Vancouver’s new, improved Oakridge Centre.

I’ve found some recent (2018) design material that seems to address at least one concern.  There does appear to be a diagonal pedestrian route from the Transit Plaza (41st and Cambie) through the new Oakridge Centre to the affluent residential area to the west and south.  Today, at old Oakridge, there is no diagonal route.  There is a meandering route through the mall and parking lots — closed after hours.

In addition, the nice words in THIS 2018 document refer repeatedly to mobility concerns for the site, elevators and escalators for access to the upper level parks and plazas.

Presumably, with thousands of people living in various buildings around the site, there will not be locked gates at the entrances, and much of the site will be accessible to the public and residents.  People, especially residents, will want to come and go at all hours of the day and night.  A lock-off would likely be a big turnoff, and might hurt condo sales.

It also seems to me that the pedestrian experience on 41st Avenue and Cambie Street will be much improved.  Today, it’s nothing more than a succession of parking lots and their entrances.

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  1. Well, that’s an improvement over what I’ve seen to date and arguably an improvement over the current condition. But the current condition is a pretty low bar – the city should have negotiated public ROWs through the site. It will feel much less welcoming than it could have been even without locked gates. I’d be surprised if there weren’t restricted hours to enter the property enforced by roaming security guards. The grade level diagonal passageway certainly won’t be open 24 hours (transit hours only) and it’s still not public. So there will be limits on how one can behave in the space over and above the laws of our society.

    It will not function as a seamless and integrated part of the city. It does not deserve anywhere near a passing grade as an inclusive and positive addition to our public realm. I’d call it a dangerous precedent.

  2. I agree that the pedestrian experience on Cambie and on 41st will be much improved. There will be protected bike lanes on both, and they will act as a buffer from traffic for people walking.

  3. –>Presumably, with thousands of people living in various buildings around the site, there will not be locked gates at the entrances, and much of the site will be accessible to the public and residents.

    I think this is a big presumption. The document linked above for the pedestrian path is clearly labeled “transit hours”. I would take that to mean it will be locked away during non transit hours. Still, better than before! However, I would still have like a design that was more friendly to the human, urban level of the city’s streets rather than the isolated, island mall feel.

    1. Sure, but Oakridge needs to balance urban integration against the fact that it’s, well, a mall.

      With any luck, the big diagonal pedestrian street will have storefronts facing outwards that can be open past regular hours (like Metrotown). Should create a nice Tokyo atmosphere.

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