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Bold project in Port Moody suffers a setback

Developer returns to council after partnership with BC Housing to help make 118 units of 163-unit project more affordable falls apart
condo project
A rendering of a proposed 163-unit condo project developer Tommy He wants to build in Port Moody.

A plan to make 118 units of a proposed 163-unit Port Moody condo development more affordable for middle-class buyers has collapsed.

That means the project proponent will have to go through another public hearing process after city council rescinded its third reading of zoning bylaw and official community plan amendments last Tuesday that it had granted Bold Properties last June.

Bold principal Tommy He said a partnership with BC Housing that would have discounted the units by about 10% through its Affordable Home Ownership Program has been put on hold while the provincial agency deals with more pressing housing issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, he’s pitching an additional contribution of $300,000 to the city’s affordable housing reserve fund, or the implementation of a rent-to-own program for 15 units, to keep the project moving forward.

“Although we are in deep disappointment, we understand that it is just out of everyone’s control and unfortunate that the pandemic disrupts the province’s budget plan,” He said in a letter to Port Moody’s senior planner, Doug Allan.

In a staff report, Allan said the company’s net contribution to any of the affordability plans amounts to about $1 million.

Coun. Zoe Royer said while the loss of a program that could help 118 families is regrettable, she commended the company for pivoting quickly to provide an alternative solution that would still help people acquire a home.

But other councillors said Bold’s new plan doesn’t go far enough. 

They encouraged He to up the ante for his next effort to attain third reading.

“The number of units that are presented here is low,” Mayor Rob Vagramov said.

“The original program would have favourably impacted many more people,” added Coun. Hunter Madsen.

“I would want to see 10% — and even as much as 15% — of the units for the rent to own program,” said Coun. Meghan Lahti.

But Port Moody’s general manager of planning and development, André Boel, told council He’s rent-to-own plan for 15 of the project’s 163 units compares favourably to a similar scheme at Panatch’s 50 Electronic Avenue project that is currently under construction. There, 30 of its 300 units were offered under a rent-to-own program that allows purchasers to put rent they pay in the first two years towards their down payment.

In his report, Allen pointed out Panatch’s plan was extremely popular and a rent-to-own program at the Bold project “fits best with the city’s goal of providing affordable housing options.”