'This is how to get a project rejected': mayor

Developers need to talk to their Coquitlam neighbours about construction plans: Mayor Richard Stewart - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Developers need to talk to their Coquitlam neighbours about construction plans: Mayor Richard Stewart
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Developers who don't talk with Coquitlam neighbours about their construction plans will likely run into a roadblock when their bid comes up for debate, city council said this week.

Council issued the stern warning Monday following a public hearing when several Austin Heights homeowners complained they hadn't been consulted about a developers' bid to subdivide two Haversley Avenue lots and build four narrow houses on the dead-end street.

Residents in the single-family home area, off Schoolhouse Street, said the new houses would be out of character and they said they're worried about extra traffic, on-street parking, safety and the possible removal of mature trees. They also submitted a letter to oppose the development.

The subdivision proposal comes two years after city council passed the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Plan, which calls for 5,000 more residents in 2,500 more homes between Blue Mountain and Linton streets, and Foster and Rochester avenues.

Under the official community plan, the Haversley site is also in an area designated for more affordable housing.

Still, despite its growth policy, council said the planned subdivision wasn't a good fit, especially given many surrounding homeowners were undergoing significant renovations.

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, planner Graham Farstad of the Arlington Group said the area is attractive and they "want to contribute and add" to the diverse neighbourhood that already has 33-ft. lots nearby as well as the Hillside community church directly south.

But asked by Mayor Richard Stewart when he had been hired by the applicants, Farstad responded, shaking his head, "This morning" — a comment that irked many city councillors.

During the council meeting later, councillors took aim at Farstad and the four applicants.

"There was no community engagement," said Coun. Terry O'Neill, who added the developers "had the neighbours doing the guessing work" about what was to be built.

"The developers should have really gone into the neighbourhood to get the pulse," Coun. Brent Asmundson said, adding the developers now have a "trust issue" with the community.

Coun. Mae Reid said she was "proud to be a Coquitlamite" to see how residents could rally.

"This is how to get a project rejected," Mayor Stewart cautioned the crowd. "I tell developers all the time to talk to their neighbours… You ignore the neighbourhood at your peril."

On Tuesday, Farstad told The Tri-City News he had yet to hear from the developers about their next steps. "Clearly, there wasn't enough neighbourhood consultation," he said.

Meanwhile, city council on Monday granted second and third bylaw readings to rezone 945 and 951 Charland Ave., at Blue Mountain Street, in the Austin Heights neighbourhood. Blue Mountain Vistas plan to build a four-storey, 31-unit apartment block south of the PetroCan gas station.



• A controversial proposal that would replace one side of a Burquitlam street with 107 townhomes as well as add a five-storey, 99-unit apartment building was deferred on Monday. City council is expected to decide on the proposed Intracorp development at its July 29 meeting, the final council meeting before a month-long summer break.


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