Marpole: Vancouver's Gateway

The historical context of the Eburne Lands

In the fall of 2003, the North Fraser Port Authority (NFPA - Eburne Lands property owner), applied to the City of Vancouver to subdivide its 34-acre property to allow for the relocation of the TransLink bus barn depot (currently located along 41st Avenue in Oakridge).

Through the City's subdivision process, and due to the property exceeding 20 acres in size, the NFPA was obliged to provide 10% of its property for park land or payment-in-lieu of park.

The NFPA, TransLink, and City Staff supported payment-in-lieu of park, citing concerns over development, security, and inclusion of a public park in an industrial area.

Members of the public, including the Marpole Business Association, environmental, park and resident groups and individuals, attended and spoke to City Council about their concerns over the project, the lack of public consultation, and the overwhelming desire for park land along the Fraser River waterfront.

In a nearly unanimous decision, Council voted to support park land at Eburne on November 20, 2003. Council also instructed all the parties involved to work with the community towards the creation of a public park amenity at Eburne.

The more than 20 concerned community and citizen groups joined forces as the Eburne Lands Coordinating Group, to best work together to achieve the goal of a public amenity along the waterfront.

However, and despite many, many meetings with the involved parties, the NFPA withdrew their subdivision request in early January 2004, resulting in the nullification of any opportunity for park land or monies-in-lieu.

In addition, TransLink performed a "friendly expropriation" of 17 acres of the Eburne property, located on the eastern portion of the land, closest to Hudson St. & SW Marine Drive.

As a result of these heavy-handed actions, the Marpole community has been left without a public park amenity or monies-in-lieu.

The Future of the Eburne Lands

The MBA, as part of the Eburne Lands Coordinating Group, is continuing to work with all the involved parties towards the inclusion of community concerns in the development process at Eburne.

One effort is focussed upon the desire for a community visioning process for Eburne, which could explore the tremendous potential of the property as the Gateway into Vancouver, while also highlighting the important First Nations Midden, pioneer historical context and environmental sensitivity & preservation of the Fraser River.

While the NFPA has not made public the future plans for its portion of the Eburne property, TransLink is in the development permit process for its planned bus barn depot.

The future of the Eburne Lands - Vancouver's Gateway?

Since October 2003, the Marpole Business Association has been working with other community groups and residents in attempting to obtain a park land allocation at the former Eburne Lands sawmill site, along the Fraser River waterfront (south of SW Marine Drive).

This has been a lengthy and complex process, involving the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Parks Board, TransLink (a regional government body), and the North Fraser Port Authority (a federal Crown Corporation).

A portion of the Eburne Lands may also be part of the ancient Marpole Midden, and thus may merit the involvement of the Musquem First Nation.

A detailed background review on the Eburne Lands issue can be found within this newsletter (see below).

Of immediate concern to the members of the Marpole Business Association is the pending approval and relocation of the TransLink bus depot from Oakridge to Marpole and the Eburne Lands.