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Condo project proposed for busy Port Moody corner doesn’t pass muster — yet

An 83-unit condo project proposed for Port Moody's west end at Clarke Street and the Barnet Highway failed to win the favour of city councillors. But the proponents were encouraged to try again.
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A rendering of what a proposd condo building at the corner of Clarke Street and the Barnet Highway might look like at its south end off St. Johns Street.

Better, but not quite good enough — yet.

That’s the message Port Moody councillors sent to the proponents of a new 83-unit condo development at the corner of Clarke Street and the Barnet Highway, at their meeting Tuesday as the developer’s application for amendments to zoning bylaws and the city’s official community plan failed to pass first reading.

But, councillors said, there’s sufficient merit to the project that Springcreek Development Ltd. won’t have to wait the usual six-month period before it can resubmit its proposal.

In a presentation, Port Moody city planner André Boel said the condo project had been refined somewhat since it was previously reviewed by the city’s old community planning advisory committee, in 2018.

Those changes include the addition of a 5,582-sq.ft. daycare space, and a redesign to make the proposed eight storeys “look more like a six-storey form.”

In addition, the development would now comply with the required 15-metre setback from south Schoolhouse Creek that runs through the property.

While several councillors welcomed the 99 daycare spots, some said the location at a busy corner — with limited availability of outdoor space because of the protected creek setback as well as long distance from any parks — wasn’t ideal.

“This is an awkward and difficult site to work with,” Coun. Diana Dilworth said.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said the project’s location, which also requires the developer acquire a piece of the road allowance at the corner of St. Johns Street and the Barnet, would also be challenging to the project's residents.

“It’s going to be really noisy,” he said, adding access to the entrance of the building’s underground parkade off Clarke Street could also be a problem, especially during the busy rush hour periods.

As well, Coun. Zoe Royer questioned the developer’s proposal to make eight units available as rental apartments at 5% below market rates through an agreement with BC Housing or a non-profit society. “Five per cent at below market rates isn’t really affordable,” she said.

Coun. Steve Milani, who enlisted a majority of his fellow councillors to send the proposal back for another look by the city’s advisory design panel, said the project also needs to up its architectural game for one of Port Moody’s gateway corners.

“This is a gate, but it’s not a gateway,” he said of the building’s design. “With that extra property, we could do some spectacular landscaping.”

Still, Mayor Rob Vagramov said, there’s enough to like about the project that it shouldn’t be killed outright.

“Some of this feedback has been pretty clear,” he said. “Some of the pieces of this project are moving in the right direction.”