Alliance Française of Vancouver wants to replace its existing 8,500-square-foot building at 6161 Cambie St. with a new 30,000-square-foot facility.
The non-profit ogranization has filed a rezoning application with the City of Vancouver.
Alliance Française, which belongs to an international network of 834 centres in 132 countries, has been operating at the Cambie Street location just south of Oakridge Centre since the early 1960s, but it has deep roots in Vancouver. It’s been promoting French language and culture in the city since 1904 — Marie-Louise Kern helped found the Vancouver chapter.
The rezoning proposal is for a three-storey building with leased commercial space at street level, as well as 32 parking and 16 bicycle spaces. The new facility, if rezoning is approved, will feature more classrooms, a performance space, an art gallery, a demonstration kitchen, a cafe and a library.
An expanded space is needed in order to accomodate growing demand for its educational and cultural programs over the past 15 years, according to a press release issued by Alliance Française of Vancouver.
The number of certifications granted and the number of memberships have climbed by more than 40 per cent. In 2017, Alliance Française had more than 4,500 registrations for French classes. That same year, 1,800 people attended more than 60 cultural events. Alliance Française also houses the largest French library in B.C. — a total of 11,000 items — as well as digital library that's accessible online.
"[Alliance Française of Vancouver] is now operating at full capacity and is working hard to maintain the quality of teaching environment that AF clients have come to expect. AF needs a larger facility to meet both its current needs and its anticipated future demand," executive director Damien Hubert said in the press release.
If the rezoning is approved, construction on the new facility could start around the summer of 2020. Alliance Française will then relocate for about a year and a half, likely in the Oarkridge area.
McFarland Marceau Architects is the architectural firm for the project.
The application is being considered under the Cambie Corridor Plan.
An open house about the rezoning application takes place between 5 and 7 p.m. at Alliance Française, Oct. 23.