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Council says Port Moody needs seniors housing — but not so fancy, nor so tall

Avenir Senior Living operates similar residences in Port Coquitlam and White Rock, as well as on Vancouver Island
ZEIDLER ARCHITECURE A rendering of a new seniors living complex proposed for 2505-2517 St. George Street, near the Kyle Community Centre.

The proponent for a new seniors housing complex near Port Moody’s Kyle Community Centre got more and less than he may have bargained for in an early review of the plans by council on Tuesday (July 18).

Jason Craik, a principal of Avenir Senior Living that is working in partnership with local developer Dulex Laidler, said the project’s 194 units will provide a continuum of care for the city’s aging population as some will be able to progress from living totally independently in 46 condo units to 100 independent and full-service rental apartments to 48 community and memory care units as their needs change.

“This is more like a story,” Craik told council’s city initiatives and planning committee. “It’s not just any condo building.”

Craik, whose company operates similar facilities in Port Coquitlam, White Rock and is about to open another in Esquimalt, said residents would have virtually everything they need within easy reach as more than 30 per cent of the complex will be dedicated to amenities like a library, bistro, theatre, sports lounge, piano bar and several gardens.

In a pre-application presentation to council last year, Craik likened the lifestyle at the complex to a cruise ship, with the monthly price tag for a full-service rental unit likely to come in at around $5,000 a month.

He said many of the residents would be downsizing from single-family homes.

Tuesday, several councillors acknowledged Port Moody needs more housing for seniors who want to stay in the city as they get older, but some worried Craik’s pitch might be a little too rich.

“This is not the type of housing I want to be focusing on,” said Coun. Haven Lurbeicki. “We really need to focus on the low- and mid-income seniors.”

“We need housing for seniors,” said Coun. Amy Lubik. “But when we look at our needs report, it’s in the lower income.”

But Coun. Diana Dilworth said there is “absolutely” a market for upscale senior housing in the city.

“There’s a spectrum of housing for seniors.”

Mayor Meghan Lahti agreed.

“This would be a type of housing that would be very welcome in Port Moody,” she said. “We have none of this housing.”

But almost all councillors who spoke (Coun. Callan Morrison recused himself from the discussion because of a potential conflict of interest) said the proposed 15-storey tower that includes a five-floor podium is out of place amidst a neighbourhood of single-family homes and small walk-up apartments, away from shopping and services.

“To put a high-rise here, it’s inappropriate land use,” Lurbeicki said.

“Seeing a tower that size for seniors living is a bit odd to me,” Coun. Kyla Knowles said.

Even Dilworth and Lahti tempered their initial enthusiasm.

“I have some real concerns about the height and density,” Dilworth said. “I’d love to see some tweaks.”

“The location and density needs to be better considered,” the mayor added.

However, Craik defended the location and design choices.

He said the building would be only 600 metres away from SkyTrain and it's a block from a bus stop making it convenient for residents to get to everything else Port Moody has to offer. As well, he added, the condos atop the 15-storey tower make the project economically viable.

“With the costs today, it’s unachievable to build 120 rental units for seniors,” Craik said. “We need the condos to help pay down the mortgage.”

For the project to proceed, it will require rezoning as well as an amendment to the city official community plan.

If that happens, Craik said, the first residents could move in by spring 2028.