Evergreen forces growth policy changes at Coquitlam city hall
A number of policy changes are happening at Coquitlam city hall to keep pace with the development boom tied to Evergreen Line construction.
Monday, council gave first reading to a zoning amendment bylaw that, if adopted, would tighten up parking at new apartments and townhomes around the rapid transit line, which is to open in 2016.
Under the plan that city staff recommended in June, developers would only have to supply 1.35 parking stalls for two-bedroom units — a drop of 10% from the current 1.5-stall requirement; parking for one-bedroom suites would stay at one stall.
The move is in response to the Metro Vancouver Apartment Parking Study, which shows there's about a 10% oversupply of residential parking near transit hubs.
The proposed bylaw also allows developers to cut the number of parking stalls by another 5% if they offer residents of their new buildings alternative transportation incentives, such as transit passes and cycling facilities.
And for developers wanting even less onsite parking, they can pay the city $20,000 per spot not provided — a sum both Mayor Richard Stewart and Coun. Terry O'Neill contended is too high. That cash would go into a city account to fund new public parking and "multi-modal improvements" around the stations.
In City Centre, where Evergreen will terminate and highrise building is brisk, that program could potentially generate up to $20 million for Coquitlam over 10 years.
Future parking around Evergreen is a hot topic for councillors, with many fearing nearby streets will be clogged given the lack of adequate bus service in the Tri-Cities.
Stewart said the city needs to strike a balance with parking at new apartments and townhomes around Evergreen: The city doesn't want on-street parking spillover for residents nor does it want to create too many onsite spaces.
The proposed parking regulations around Evergreen are one part of a sweep of initiatives to get ready for the rapid transit line. Next year, council will consider expanding City Centre on-street pay parking while staff will review the use of public parking lots in that area and look at shared parking strategies with developers and commercial businesses.
A public hearing on the proposed parking changes is expected to be held Nov. 26.
Meanwhile, builders of apartments in Coquitlam may be paying 15% more for development cost charges (DCC) under a new policy.
This week, city council gave three readings to a bylaw that would see DCC rates rise from $89 to $103 per square metre for new apartment blocks, and $17,971 to $19,181 for single-family units — up 6.7%. DCC rates for single-family homes, townhomes, commercial, industrial and institutional properties would drop a bit.
The proposed rate for apartments is based on future growth and the pressure the extra residents will have on infrastructure such as water and sewer connections.
Also, at Monday's council-in-committee, city staff suggested the water rate for developers building highrises change to allow for longer construction times.
Bill Susak, Coquitlam's general manager of engineering and public works, said developers have been asking the municipality to extend the utility "grace period" to a year — rather than six months — due to the length of building the towers.
That topic is expected to be discussed by council later this month.