Cambie West gets rezoned for condo development

Vancouver city council rezones Marpole property for high-rise development

By Hannah Myrberg

Langara grad and NPA city councillor George Affleck (foreground) attends a public hearing where a developer’s application to rezone a property in Marpole was approved unanimously. Photo by Hannah Myrberg.

South Vancouver will be the home of two new towers after Vancouver city council unanimously approved a developer’s rezoning application for a property in Marpole.

Following a Jan. 21 public hearing at city hall, council voted in favour of Wesgroup Properties’ plan to develop a 28,000 sq. ft. property at 8175 Cambie St., the former site of a Petro-Canada gas station.

The plan includes 368 condo units in 12- and 31-storey towers, 15,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and a 37-space childcare centre, to be built near the Marine Drive Canada Line station and Marine Gateway development.

The developer also secured $2 million for a 4500 sq. ft. space that is expected to become the home of Marpole Oakridge Family Place, which is still closed after it flooded in December.

Oakridge and Marpole residents speak out against project

Tracey Moir of the Oakridge Langara Area Residents group was the only speaker to voice opposition to the project at the hearing, while three others spoke in favour of it.

“This undermines the Cambie Corridor,” Moir said of the development. The Cambie Corridor plan is part of city hall’s goal to create sustainable urban neighbourhoods.

Marpole resident Janet Young raised questions about the development in a letter to city council.

“This development brings around another round of change to our neighbourhood, and it is difficult to envisage what it will look like and how it will impact our lives,” she wrote.                                                                                    




SALOME patients prepare for a legal battle against Rona Ambrose, the health minister who effectively ended an opiate-based treatment that saved their lives.


A rain-soaked man sits, sweating, eyes watering, clothes soaked, in an alley somewhere in downtown Vancouver. He wraps a tourniquet tightly above the crook of his elbow, clenches his fist, and pushes a needle up and inward, plunger pulled back. A flash of blood appears and he knows he’s hit a vein. Success. He pushes the plunger down, sweating, shaking, then bites down on the loose end of the tourniquet, snapping it off with his teeth. The body that was wracked with pain just moments ago falls away in one fall swoop – like a heavy coat, down the shoulders and onto the ground. This is heroin.

And that was the life that Larry Love lived for twenty years. For him, the constant struggle to find and use drugs was as close to a living hell as you can get. Heroin withdrawal felt like an agonizing, itching death – you feel it the bones, the tendons in your back. When you throw up it pulls at the inside of your stomach so violently you feel as though you’re being turned inside out, stomach first. It wraps itself in the roots of your teeth. You don’t sleep.

The site of SALOME's clinical trials administering legal heroin to high risk addicts in downtown Vancouver.

The site of SALOME’s clinical trials, where opiate-based treatment – including “synthetic heroin” was tested as a harm reduction and recovery strategy for high risk addicts in downtown Vancouver. (Providence Healthcare)

For people like Love, whose long history of failed attempts at recovery had made him an unsuitable candidate for rehab  – where spots are limited and even then, only become available after 2 weeks of clean urine tests – there was no middleground.

It was a choice between using heroin or getting sick, really sick – and then, inevitably, using heroin anyway.

Love, like many other high-risk, street-involved heroin addicts, had the odds stacked against him – whether he continued using or not.

The retention rate for heroin addicts who enter treatment is dismal on all counts, and the risk of overdose doubles if an addict relapses.

In Canada, the only legally viable heroin substitutes are methadone and suboxone, and both are long-term, extremely structured regimens that require refrigeration, carefully measured doses, and close contact with a prescribing doctor at all times. Those that need it the most, are often unable to maintain a methadone-based program until they find housing and adequate stability both mentally and physically.

A New Treatment Option

The SALOME project and it’s predecessor, NAOMI, attempted to fill the gap and catch the at-risk, street-involved heroin addicts that methadone and suboxone had not helped. The average SALOME client had around 11 attempts at treatment under their belt before entering the program and were the most costly individuals: requiring countless tax dollars as they routinely encountered hospitals, police, and income assistance.

Diactylmorphine, one of the opiate-based compounds tested during the SALOME clinical trials in Vancouver. (Nick Procalyo/Vancouver Sun)

The SALOME project, with it’s high success rate and retention of patients beats methadone, suboxone, and all other currently available treatment options in terms of lowering crime involvement, dependency on hospitals, jails, and quality of life. Most importantly, it works, dramatically, at giving the most hard to treat addicts a path out of addiction and street life.

The catch? SALOME’s treatment involves administering heroin, to heroin addicts. And is now tied up in moral red-tape, most recently from health minister Rona Ambrose, who effectively shut the SALOME clinical trials down in November of 2013.

In an effort to save the program, SALOME clients and doctors, backed by Providence Healthcare, have taken Ambrose to court over a charter violation. If they succeed, clinical trials of heroin-assisted-treatment will continue in Vancouver for the next two years.

Canada is currently the only first world country without a heroin-assisted-treatment (H.A.T.) program in place for at-risk addicts.