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Developer to build Port Coquitlam townhouses on visitors' spots despite parking 'nightmare'

Lengthy council discussion over parking versus the need to build new homes resulted in approval of two new projects on the city's north side.
A developer has won Port Coquitlam council approval to add two more townhouses to a development at 1260 Riverside Dr.

Parking problems on a busy neighbourhood street in Port Coqutilam won't be worsened with two new townhouses, council has decided.

After one of its longest discussions in recent history, a majority of councillors didn't agree with a staff recommendation to decline permits for two more townhouse units in an older complex at 1260 Riverside Dr.

The developer, Pollyco Group of Companies, wants to build two 2,000 sq-ft. townhouses on a portion of land used for a play area and remove three parking spaces, leaving five at a 20-year-old townhouse complex.

The discussion took place Tuesday (Feb. 27) during a council meeting; Mayor Brad West and Coun. Nancy McCurrach were absent from the meeting with Coun. Steve Darling was acting mayor.

Issue more parking tickets

Coun. Dean Washington said parking concerns in the area could be better addressed by ticketing parking scofflaws instead of preventing the developer from adding the two units.

"For me, it's an enforcement issue. Two or three more cars is going to make not one lick of difference at that corner," said Washington, who opposed the staff recommendation, along with councillors Paige Petriw and Glenn Pollock.

Both Petriw and Pollock said they struggled with their decision, but in the end thought council needed the two extra townhomes.

"I think the two new units are beneficial to the community; they are good sized family units [and] they have a lot of parking," said Petriw.

Family housing needed 'fast'

Pollock added the city needs more housing, and needs it "fast."

"Hearing the comments from the people that live there, eliminating three spots, it isn’t really eliminating visitor parking it’s eliminating parking for their whole strata," he said.

"I want to see the housing so badly that I’m thinking about biting the bullet here so we'll see."

Dominic Long, PoCo's director of community safety and corporate services, said parking on nearby Yangtze Gate has long been a problem.

There have been multiple complaints from residents in the area, which is one of the main reasons staff opposed the addition of two townhomes on three visitor's spaces.

Most of the complaints area directed towards those "not using their garages and driveways [for vehicles] and also having trailers or bikes etc," Long said.

The city also received three letters of complaint from residents about the townhouse proposal; one wrote parking in the area is a "nightmare."

Safety concerns for Terry Fox Park

Coun. Steve Darling agreed with staff that the parking variance and development permit sought by the developer should be declined.

Citing the developers' own traffic study, he said drivers who can't find spaces on Yangtze Gate will end up parking on Riverside Drive, next to the busy Terry Fox Park and high school.

He agreed that more enforcement is needed but said eliminating some visitors' parking would add to the problem.

"We need to do more work around here to make it safer," added Darling.

He described hearing complaints from residents about traffic along.Riverside Drive, which has poor sight lines, due to a curve, is full of kids, as well as vehicles speeding to and from Costco.

Visitors' spots used by residents

The developer, meanwhile, has done "everything it could" to find alternatives, said Steve Yang, vice president of Pollyco Group of Companies.

"We're hoping that by this variance being approved then no-one would have have a visitor parking stall in front of their residence."

Townhouse owners at the complex are aware of the developer's plans because they were required to sign a contract acknowledging the potential for the construction of two new townhouses when they purchased their homes in recent years.

Two residents who spoke at the public input opportunity and said they were in favour of the project even though it would remove some visitors' parking.

They said the stalls were being used by residents, which is not enforced by the strata, and suggested the city should do more to ticket drivers who leave their cars on Yangtze Gate for long periods of time.

"Some cars have not moved for two months," said Antonio Rosenberg.


SOUND OFF: Lack of housing is an issue; so is parking. Do you think Port Coquitlam council made the right decision? Send a letter to [email protected].