Vancouver neighbourhoods: Oakridge

Vancouver_OakridgeinsideOakridge is a comfortable neighbourhood in south central Vancouver best known for its pleasant single-family housing and Vancouver’s first mall, the Oakridge Shopping Centre. It is also home to the main campus of Langara College.

Oakridge runs between Granville Street on the west and Ontario Street (just west of Main) on the east, and from 41st Avenue on the north to 57th Avenue on the south.

Demographics

From Statistics Canada, 2011 Census, custom order for City of Vancouver Local Areas (comparative data for Census Metro Area in parentheses).

population: 12,440     under 18: 16% (19%)           aged 65+: 19% (13%)

married/common-law: 49% (48%)    living alone: 10% (11%)        

have kids at home: 46% (40%)     lone parents: 590     widows: 650

ESL: 69% (44%)    mother tongues: unspecified Chinese 17%, Cantonese 17%, Mandarin 14%, Korean 3%, Punjabi 2%

Oakridge has the highest percentage of seniors of any Vancouver neighbourhood. This may partly explain why the percentage of low-income households here remains higher than average despite the fact that the median income in the area is considerably higher than for the city as a whole.

A view of Vancouver from the air in 1948, with Kerrisdale, Marpole, Oakridge and Sunset in the foreground. Note the open land in Oakridge. Vancouver Archives: AM54-S4-: LP 153.2

A view of Vancouver from the air in 1948, with Kerrisdale, Marpole, Oakridge and Sunset in the foreground. Note the open land in Oakridge. Vancouver Archives: AM54-S4-: LP 153.2

History

While the neighbouring communities of Marpole and Kerrisdale were developing throughout the first half of the 20th century, Oakridge remained in its natural state, only being turned over to residential and commercial purposes when the Canadian Pacific Railway sold its land holdings after the Second World War.

One of the few developments before the war was the creation of the Langara Golf Course, completed in 1926 in the southeast corner of Oakridge by CP.

Unique features

Oakridge Centre was built in 1959 and is set to undergo major redevelopment. City council approved in principle rezoning Oakridge Centre in March, 2014.

oakridgeentranceIvanhoe Cambridge Inc., which owns Oakridge Centre, notes that the mall is “currently surrounded by a sea of surface parking” and offers this prospect for the 32 acre property:

A new outdoor shopping street, High Street, will add a different type of retail experience: cafés and restaurants spilling out onto the street will enliven the community after the interior retail closes for the day. More job space and increased housing options will create a true complete community where people can live, work and play. . . .

A consolidated amenity building with a seniors’ centre, a library and multipurpose rooms will be adjacent to nine acres of public open space. This expansive area will feature activity fields, urban agriculture, quiet gardens, a reflecting pool, sport courts, a running track and more . . .

Among the concerns about the redevelopment are the height of the towers, the degree of density envisaged for the housing and the potential overcrowding of the Canada Line SkyTrain line.

langaragardens1Langara Gardens: A large portion of land on the southern boundary of Oakridge will also see major changes. Langara Gardens is a 20.8 acre site between 54th and 57th Avenue west of Cambie Street which currently features 605 rental units, more than half of which are in four 18-storey towers. Owners want to redevelop; two open houses were held in the spring of 2015.

North-south corridors: Granville, Oak and Cambie streets are the city’s primary north-south commuter corridors. Granville Street leads south to the Arthur Laing Bridge, connecting to Richmond and the airport. Oak Street carries Highway 99 south from the centre of Vancouver, to the Oak Street Bridge over the river, at which point it becomes a divided freeway running down to Interstate 5 at the U.S. border. Cambie is the corridor along which SkyTrain’s Canada Line runs.

The Lubavitch Centre is at the corner of 41st and Oak.

The Lubavitch Centre is at the corner of 41st and Oak.

The Jewish community is well represented in Oakridge. While there had been a significant Jewish population in Vancouver from its early days (David Oppenheimer was the city’s second mayor, for example), the Jewish community became centred on the Oakridge area only after the Second World War. Go here for a useful brief history of local Jewish settlement.

The Jewish Community Centre was built in 1962 at 41st Avenue and Oak Street, and there are several synagogues in the area. (Two high-profile spiritual/syncretistic/liberal congregations – not related to the Jewish community – are based on Oak Street north of 41st: Unity Spiritual Centre and Unitarian Church of Vancouver.)

Churches

Church of God in Vancouver; Joy Fellowship; Megumi Baptist; New Beginnings; New Life; Oakridge Baptist; Oakridge Church of Christ; St. Matthias & St. Luke Anglican; St. Peter’s Estonian Lutheran; Trinity Baptist; Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian; Vancouver Chinese SDA Church. See map.

Trinity Baptist Church

Trinity Baptist Church

Here are a couple of ways in which Oakridge churches are linked to their neighbourhood. The list is far from complete and we would love to hear about other examples:

* Trinity Baptist Church, on the southeast corner of 49th Avenue and Granville Street, hosts a very active ESL ministry, which, “over the past decade, has reached up to 250 students per semester and involved about 30 volunteer workers.” As well, the church operates Trinity Baptist Daycare.

vancouver Chinese Presbyrterian Church

Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church

* Vancouver Chinese Presbyterian Church, on the west side of Cambie Street at 46th Avenue, offers a preschool and kindergarten, which nurtures both Christian values and Chinese culture; education is bilingual. It also offers a Chinese Language School.

Further reading

Some good sites to check out:

* The Courier did several articles on Oakridge as part of a year-long series of articles on Vancouver neighbourhoods in 2013/2014.

* The city has a Oakridge page.

* Vancouver provides its own assessment of the Oakridge Centre Redevelopment.

* The city has a Cambie Corridor Plan.

2 comments for “Vancouver neighbourhoods: Oakridge

  1. Diane Tucker
    November 26, 2015 at 7:43 am

    You make no mention in your article of two churches very central in the Oakridge area: Oakridge Adventist Church and its rental tenant St. John’s Vancouver Anglican. Both are vibrant, thriving churches that have quite an impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. These churches meet in the OAC building at 37th and Baillie.

    • Flyn Ritchie
      November 26, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Thanks for making that point Diane. We are following the city’s way of dividing the city into areas, and Oakridge extends north only to 41st Avenue.

      Despite their names, St. John’s and Oakridge Adventist are in the South Cambie area. We may miss the odd church as we cover the city, but we won’t miss those two! (When we do South Cambie.)

      Even Oakridge Lutheran, on 41st, right across the street from Oakridge Mall, is technically in South Cambie, while Oakridge United is in Riley Park.

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