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Neighbourhood Series: A growth spurt in Joyce-Collingwood

Construction is underway everywhere you turn in Joyce-Collingwood.
Construction is underway everywhere you turn in Joyce-Collingwood. Emily Lazatin / CKNW

The CKNW and Global News Neighbourhood Series is an annual series that explores neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Surrey, and the Tri-Cities. CKNW’s Emily Lazatin takes a look at a growing East Vancouver neighbourhood.

LISTEN: CKNW & Global News Neighbourhood Series – Joyce-Collingwood

Walk around the Joyce-Collingwood neighborhood these days and you’ll see and hear a lot of construction.

Walk closer to the transit hub and you’ll see construction workers putting up a lot of steel and glass, all in preparation for more density.

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“The neighborhood is socially and culturally diverse overall, more so compared to the rest of the city,” said Paula Huber, a senior planner with the City of Vancouver.

“It’s got a greater percentage of low-income residents and newcomers. It’s a real mix being out in the neighborhood, certainly there’s a great range of ages, a lot of students and young people.”

Neighbourhood Series: A growth spurt in Joyce-Collingwood - image

About 16,000 people live around the hub, which is currently going through significant redevelopment according to Huber.

The area, also known as the Joyce-Collingwood Village was one of the Lower Mainland’s first mixed-use communities when it was built 20 years ago, said Huber.

But in 2017, the make-up of the area is visibly changing – particularly along Joyce Street and Vanness Avenue.

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READ MORE: Neighbourhood Series: A growth spurt in Joyce-Collingwood

“A big part of the area was built out in the 90’s. We’re trying to transform the area around the station into a vibrant area point into the community and working to increase housing, diversity and achieve a more coherent and connective neighborhood,” said Huber.

“One of the key things people said is they-they were missing small to medium sized grocery stores. There are little greengrocers, convenience stores and take-out food but there’s no grocery store where you can get what you need for a few days.”

Huber said the in its plan for the area, the city is pushing for the inclusion of a 5,000-10,000 square foot grocery store in one of the new towers slated for the area to try and address that gap.

Its status as a transit hub is one of the factors driving growth in the neighbourhood.
Its status as a transit hub is one of the factors driving growth in the neighbourhood.

Residents who live in the area said they chose Joyce-Collingwood because of location, but many agreed the aesthetics of the neighborhood need a facelift.

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“It’s very convenient,” said Cecilia Reyes. “People are so friendly, and it’s steps away from everything – SkyTrain, bus, restaurants and stores.”

“It’s not the nicest area,” added resident James McNeil. “There are nice neighborhoods, but some sketchy areas.”

Anne Banner said she’s been commuting from the Joyce SkyTrain station for 25 years.

“This area, for me, it’s a lot more convenient because of Tim Hortons being there, there’s more things that have been added to the area that probably make it more livable.”

The Joyce-Collingwood Station Precinct Plan will see some major design changes coming to the neighbourhood, according to Huber.

“It will be different. The 17 towers that exist at Joyce-Collingwood today are a reflection of the styles and materials that were popular in the 90’s. You’ll see green glass and stucco,” she said.

“I think we will see different forms and different materials being used today to reflect the current trends in architecture. The plan allows for the possibility of five additional towers in and around the intersection of Joyce and Vaness. A big part of it is to integrate the old and the new.”

Despite the growing concern over so-called “demovictions” in neighboring Burnaby and the introduction of one high-end building right behind Joyce station, the city of Vancouver insists lower-income residents won’t be pushed out of the neighbourhood.

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“The specifics in Joyce-Collingwood are that the five or six blocks that have been identified for change through the stationary plan are generally older, one or two-storey commercial buildings or older single-family houses. It’s not rental apartments that are being given over for change,” Huber said.

“There may be the odd rental unit above a shop where people would go through a tenant relocation program. But it’s not wholesale change of apartment buildings over to something new here.”

The changes may also come at a slower pace. The city says there is no firm deadline for the neighbourhood plan implementation.

“The city owns very little land in that area,” Huber said. “We own a small site on Vanness, it’s all in private ownership and so the timing on when things happen is basically driven by people who own the land.”

But for now, residents like Cecilia Reyes don’t seem to mind living in a construction zone.

“Well its chaos, but it’s going to be OK.”

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