Langara College has been green lighted to push forward with its massive campus expansion and renewal plans.
The decision was unanimous in Vancouver City Council during Thursday’s public hearing on the college’s rezoning application
Enrolment has increased greatly since the 2009 opening of the nearby Langara-49th Avenue Station on the SkyTrain Canada Line, and over the last few years the number of international students grew from 1,000 to 7,000. Langara College’s total enrolment prior to the pandemic was 21,000 students.
“I had the pleasure of attending this school as, dare I say, a mature student with an 11-year-old and six-year-old at the time. It was pretty great to be in a college experience with 18-year-old and 19-year-old students in my class, it was a real treat, ” said independent city councillor Rebecca Bligh during the public hearing.
“I think the low-barrier approach to the school itself lends to wanting more students to be able to attend, and they were very much at capacity when I was there, which was about six or seven years ago.”
The campus at 100 West 49th Avenue will see its floor area grow from 815,500 sq ft to 1.45 million sq ft with the construction of five new buildings up to six storeys in height, providing expansion capacity and replacing aging and outdated buildings.
There will be 1.1 million sq ft of new floor area within these new buildings constructed over multiple phases over a timeline of 25 years to 30 years. A LEED Gold green building certification will be achieved for the new construction.
One of the new buildings will be a single-storey Indigenous Meeting House pavilion building on the north side, next to the existing pond, which will be revitalized. A public realm and landscaping overhaul of the 20-acre site will be incorporated into the phased redevelopments.
The existing buildings that will remain include Building B, Langara Student Union, Science & Technology Building, and the 14-year-old Library. These buildings have a combined total floor area of about 350,000 sq. ft.
The existing large surface parking lot at the east end of the campus will be redeveloped into the largest new campus building. The overall redevelopment has a set target of establishing 1,100 vehicle parking stalls across the campus.
Additionally, there will be bicycle parking totalling about 1,000 stalls, Mobi public bike share stations, a new bike lane at the north side of the property along West 49th Avenue, and a protected bike lane along Ontario Street between 49th Avenue and the lane south of 51st Avenue.
In exchange for the city’s rezoning approval, the institution is required to provide $26.2 million in public benefits, including $1.9 million in community amenity contributions from the expansion of the existing 62-space childcare facility with 12 additional spaces, $22.1 million in development cost levies, and $2.2 million in public art.
The area immediately around the campus is also seeing change through redevelopment, including new mixed-use commercial and residential redevelopments along the entire stretch of the north side of 49th Avenue between Cambie Street and Ontario Street, with the requirement for ground-level retail and restaurant space establishing a new retail strip.
Just to the west, a new replacement Langara YMCA could have a new aquatic centre, expanded recreational and community facilities, an 11-storey affordable rental housing building, and a 20-storey market housing tower.