The proponent for a massive redevelopment of Port Moody’s Coronation Park neighbourhood says the future of the project hangs in the balance after a majority of councillors voted to postpone second reading of amendments to the city’s official community plan (OCP) that would be required for it to proceed.
Brad Jones, the senior vice-president of development for Wesgroup Properties, told council its request to get city staff to gather more information about the traffic impacts from his company’s project, as well as one being proposed by another builder right next door in Coquitlam, along with a reinvigorated exploration of affordable housing options and a desire to provide more jobs represents “a paradigm shift” in its requirements for approval.
He added the company’s acquisition of 58 properties in the neighbourhood being finalized hinges on its ability to move forward.
“We continue to be blindsided by you,” Jones said. “We are struggling to see a path forward with this council.”
Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting (Nov. 23), Jones said Wesgroup had made significant adjustments to its proposal for the 14.8-acre site across from the Inlet SkyTrain station based upon feedback it got from council last January.
Some of them included:
- lower towers, but with the addition of another along the site’s eastern border next to Coquitlam
- less density
- a greater mix of family-oriented units
- more local shopping areas, including provision for a 35,000 sq. ft. grocery store, as well as a daycare
- increased office and light industrial space
- the addition of a 3,000 sq. ft. civic amenity space the city could program for its needs
As well, Jones said, the company had reconfigured the project’s layout, eliminating much of the inner road network to create more open area for residents and visitors, including a 2.52-acre public park with adjacent semi-public space extending its usable area to four acres. It also conducted a traffic study.
And while Jones admitted some of those changes — like reducing the project’s density by lowering the towers to 26 to 31 storeys from the 37- to 40-storey structures Wesgroup pitched last January — came at the expense of 175 below-market rental units that were part of its proposal, he said council had indicated then a preference for lower density.
“It’s an expensive item to deliver” he said of affordable housing component. “It does require additional density.”
But Mayor Rob Vagramov said the recent unveiling of Polygon Homes’ master plan for the 10-acre Coronation Heights neighbourhood right next door in Coquitlam had moved the goalposts for the city as well.
He said that proposal, which includes up to nine towers as tall as 45 storeys, will increase pressure on Port Moody’s traffic, as well as its civic facilities and infrastructure.
Coun. Hunter Madsen agreed, saying Wesgroup’s proposal is “coming at us in a far more challenging growth environment than when we looked at it last January.”
He said the city needs more time so staff can properly assess the cumulative impact of the two projects combined, along with others in the works for Port Moody’s downtown.
“We need to get it right,” he said. “There has to be a sensible balance.”
Other councillors, though, cautioned the clock is ticking and any further delay in the process isn’t fair to the developer or to the neighbourhood’s residents whose lives have been in limbo ever since council approved a plan four years ago to densify the area from its current 58 single-family homes.
Coun. Meghan Lahti said the additional information some councillors seek could be gathered after the OCP amendment is approved but before the company applies for zoning changes.
“We need to get this to a public hearing so Wesgroup doesn’t walk away.”
Coun. Diana Dilworth said the frustration among landowners, residents and the developer is palpable.
“We owe it to our community to move this project further,” she said.