Big hikes in building in Tri-Cities

There's lots of construction activity in Coquitlam Town Centre.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS

A flurry of building permit applications in Coquitlam has kept planners busy and resulted in the return of construction cranes to the Town Centre after a two-year hiatus.

“It’s been brisk for sure,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who said pent-up demand left from the recession may have fuelled the spate of building permit applications to the city last year.

Each year, Metro Vancouver welcomes 40,000 new residents, requiring an additional 16,000 to 18,000 new dwelling units. When consumer confidence is low and money dries up, people make do but eventually those homes get built and last year many of them were built on Burke Mountain; as well, new permits were processed for projects started in Coquitlam’s Town Centre and for in-fill housing in the city’s southwest.

Stewart said the city was well-placed to handle the 63% increase in housing construction permits last year because it had streamlined its processes to ensure applications were approved in a timely manner.

“If it sits on someone’s desk for a long time, it doesn’t make it better,” said Stewart, who said he was proud of the staff for handling permits for single-family projects worth $83.7 million and multi-family permits worth $123 million.

“[Construction activity] is dollars, inspections and plan reviews, and it’s a record year on the DCC [development cost charges] side,” Stewart said, noting about $15 million was placed in city coffers for amenities and infrastructure to support new development.

Port Coquitlam also saw a boost in construction activity last year, with building permits for single-family homes and duplexes doubling from 2009 ($7.2 million to $13.3 million) as well as a quadrupling in the value of building permits issued for multi-family construction from $11.4 million to $54.3 million.

Port Moody, meanwhile, saw a small jump in the value of residential building permits issued. Permits for multi-family residences climbed to $5.6 million in 2010 from $932,561 in 2010 while $3.8 million worth of building permits for single-family homes was issued in 2010, compared to $2.3 million the year previous.

Those numbers are down significantly from 2006, when the value of building permits totalled $193.8 million. But Mayor Joe Trasolini said the slowdown in construction reflects the fact the city and its residents don’t want any more growth until construction starts on the Evergreen Line and the Murray-Clark Connector.

“Council is guided by the OCP [official community plan] and we’re down to the last strokes on the OCP and the OCP reflects minimal to no growth,” Trasolini said, noting the city’s current estimated population of about 30,000 reflects significant growth in the last few years and it’s time to take a breather

“If the Evergreen Line and the Murray-Clark Connector come online, then I expect we’ll review the growth numbers and the OCP,” he said, adding that Metro Vancouver has approved PoMo’s population numbers because it understands the difficult position the city is in regarding transportation infrastructure.

Still, the city won’t be entirely without construction cranes in the future. The 26-storey, 176-unit Onni development called The Residences is on the books for construction this year, according to the city.

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