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Burke homeowners feel 'betrayed' after Coquitlam council moves for more housing around Village

Up to 1,500 more residents to live next to Burke Mountain Village in Coquitlam.

Up to 1,500 more people will call Burke Mountain home after Coquitlam city council this week boosted the number of residential units around the Village core.

Council unanimously granted second and third to change the Official Community Plan (OCP) in the growing Partington Creek neighbourhood on Monday (April 25). Coun. Trish Mandewo did not attend Monday’s meetings.

The move to increase the residential land use around the future commercial hub came after a 2.5-hour public hearing that drew many complaints about the proposal.

Put forward by the city’s lands and real estate division, the plan calls for a higher density around the village to go from townhouses to mid-rise apartment complexes.

Division director Curtis Scott did not say how many more units are planned as the city-owned properties will be sold; however, up to 600 more homes are predicted.

Scott told the Tri-City News more residents are needed in the area to make up for the smaller townhouse developments that have gone up on Burke Mountain.

“As development has occurred over time on Burke Mountain,” Scott said, “it has become evident that townhouse parcels were not achieving the full available density.

“This has resulted in a net deficit of potential residential units and, as a result, can impact the expected consumer demand required to support the estimated 120,000 sq. ft. of retail and proposed 80,000 sq. ft. community centre in Burke Mountain Village,” he said.

Within the combined 40 acres — north and south of the Village —  the city also plans to add more parks and green space, as well as environmental protections.

And the northern section will also be close to the new Coast Salish Elementary, at 3538 Sheffield Ave., which will provide 430 student spaces when opens this fall.

Homeowner concerns

Still, some speakers at Monday night’s public hearing, as well as letter writers, told council they felt “betrayed” by the city for proposing to change the land use at...

  • 3639 Crouch Ave.
  • 3512 David Ave.
  • 3561 Gislason Ave.
  • 1381 Mitchell St.
  • 1387 Mitchell St.

... and unaddressed parcels north and south of the Village.

Homeowners cited loss of views, a rise in population and more traffic and air pollution as concerns, while others said their quality of living would drop with the change.

“Many of us did research to buy property three or four years ago based on the Coquitlam vision and plan for the mountain,” a Sheffield Avenue resident said.

“And the plan didn’t call for high-density living. It called for mostly single-family homes and townhouses, which we felt was going to minimize the population.

“The conversation always seems to be about density, density, density. Well, that wasn’t the basis that many of us made multi-million dollar investments on years ago.”

Others raised the lack of buses, while some said the city’s plan to get around on bicycle is short-sighted. “Cycling is good for exercising, not for transport,” a woman said.

Some, like Isabelle Sylvester, told council they don’t like the new projected head count Burke Mountain: In the Northeast Coquitlam Area Plan, it called for 25,000 residents. Now, Burke — with four more proposed neighbourhoods north and west of the Upper Hyde Creek neighbourhood, is expected to have 50,000 residents at build out over the next few decades.

“We believe the population will be more than what you’re predicting,” said a frustrated Janet Klopp of the Northeast Coquitlam Ratepayers Association (NECRA).

Should the developments proceed on the city-owned lots, the mid-rise apartment buildings would stand up to eight storeys, said city planner Natasha Lock; however, she said, high rises are intended for the Village, although their heights will be determined in future bids.

Council reaction

Mayor Richard Stewart was blunt with his assessment.

At the council meeting immediately after the public hearing, Stewart read out what he called an “offensive” letter from a Burke Mountain resident in opposition.

The letter read, in part: “We based multi-million dollar home-buying decisions on the Coquitlam Burke Mountain development plan laid out years ago.

“We chose to move here because there were no apartments. We wanted to live in an area filled with single-family homes. We wanted an upper-middle class neighbourhood.

“We do not want younger, single people living in apartments in our area because of the noise factor, car stereos, late night comings and goings,” the letter read.

“You just described my kids,” the mayor said to the anonymous letter writer, suggesting the comments are instead disguised as being against people who rent.

“The vast majority of the world lives in apartments. And we have to, in this region, no longer continue to expand into the agricultural land and up the valley.”

Coun. Brent Asmundson, a Burke Mountain resident for 32 years and retired bus driver, said the city’s planning documents are living. And more housing options are needed in Coquitlam because “young people today will never own a single-family home. It’s not going to happen.”

Coun. Craig Hodge, a former Burke resident, said the province is adding 100,000 newcomers a year, of which 40,000 people are settling in the Lower Mainland annually.

“We’re doing what we need to do for a growing population,” he said.

Fourth and final bylaw readings are expected next month.