Highest tower in Coquitlam offers too little parking, says council

An artist
An artist's rendering of the proposed 43-storey Metropolitan 3 tower in Coquitlam.
— image credit: SUBMITTED

A proposal for a 43-storey tower in Coquitlam's Town Centre raised eyebrows at Monday's council meeting, but it wasn't because of the neck-craning height of the building.

At 43 storeys, the Metropolitan 3 (M3) will be the highest building in Coquitlam. Other buildings in the Cressey project include the Metropolitan 1 (M1) at 27 storeys and the Metropolitan 2 (M2), which is under construction and will be 25 storeys.

The M3 will also stretch above the next highest towers in the city, the 37-storey Levo and the 29-storey Oasis.

But despite the big numbers, council members weren't focusing on how high the tower would rise but on what's missing down below: parking.

Cressey Development Group is proposing M3 as a high-density, mixed-use project with 319 residential units. An eight-storey commercial/office building is planned for the final phase.

And while the proposal complies with Coquitlam's city centre zoning, which is designed to maximize building heights near the Evergreen Line, variances are needed for setbacks and parking, mainly a reduction in the number of on-site spots (commercial, residential and visitor) from 481 down to 422, a 12% reduction.

Of the 481 parking stalls required under the bylaw, four are to be set aside for commercial purposes while 64 should be allocated for visitors and the remaining 413 are to be for residential uses.

Cressey is proposing to keep four commercial spots but only offer 56 visitor spots and 362 residential stalls. To mitigate the losses, Cressey would provide a co-op car as well as two additional co-op cars or a cash-in-lieu contribution of $80,000.

Staff supported the variances, noting they are generally in line with the Transit-Oriented Development Strategy's (TDS) proposed parking amendments. Council has passed first three readings of those amendments, with final adoption pending at next week's meeting.

If adopted, those amendments would lower parking requirements for the M3 to 452 stalls, or 430 if co-op cars and other transportation alternatives are provided. To achieve the additional reduction down to 422 stalls as requested, Cressey would have to cough up $160,000 for public parking improvements.

Council members agreed the M3 packed a big "wow" factor but were decidedly less enthusiastic about the parking reductions.

"Where you're located, we need parking, lots of parking," said Coun. Mae Reid, noting the Spirit Square and Glen Pine Pavilion seniors' centre are nearby.

Coun. Lou Sekora balked at the four commercial spaces but both the developer and staff countered there is additional parking located throughout the site for commercial and retail uses.

"I have no concerns with the variances because they're consistent with variances in other buildings," said Mayor Richard Stewart. Parking reductions allowed by council for similar city centre buildings have ranged between 8% and 14%.

"But we need to be shifting towards maximums in the amount of parking we permit rather than the amount of parking we require, particularly if we're going to have the transit system work," Stewart added. "These residents will have every benefit of transit that the rest of Coquitlam hasn't had."

Council agreed to defer the matter until next week, after the vote on fourth reading of the TDS parking amendments.


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