This Tuesday, Oct. 3, Port Moody residents will get a chance to contribute their thoughts about the city's largest-ever redevelopment project before council considers third reading of zoning bylaw amendments required for it to proceed.
If approved, the plan by Vancouver-based Wesgroup Properties will bring more than 5,500 new residents to the Coronation Park neighbourhood, a 14.8-acre site at the corner of Barnet Highway and Ioco Road currently occupied by 59 aging single-family homes.
How we got here
2012: The city flags the neighbourhood for its own special consideration in the update process for Port Moody's official community plan (OCP) given the anticipated arrival of SkyTrain just across Ioco Road.
2013: A draft plan is presented early in the year that suggests a mix of mid- and high- rises up to 30 storeys, much to the dismay of some residents.
2015: The first of several public input meetings to explore options for the neighbourhood’s future is held as a commercial real estate brokerage begins the process of assembling properties. Some residents say they hope to be able to stay in their homes
2016: With the opening of SkyTrain's Evergreen line imminent, the city presents its preferred development options for the neighbourhood. They include a mix of townhomes, apartments and high-rises that would boost its population to 4,500 residents, along with a one-acre park, commercial spaces and a pedestrian overpass to the Inlet Centre station. While some residents are supportive others say they feel like their homes are being “expropriated by OCP.”
2017: Council endorses the OCP updates for Coronation Park, as well as the Moody Centre neighbourhood and the site of the old Flavelle sawmill
2018: Port Moody elects a new mayor, Rob Vagramov, who ran a campaign based on measured growth to keep pace with the city’s amenities, preserve green space and natural habitats as well as provide sufficient infrastructure.
2019: Wesgroup makes the first presentation of its plan for the neighbourhood to city council. It includes six high-rise towers up to 36 storeys and five six-storey buildings, as well as 1,100 sq. ft. of commercial space. Of the 2,850 residential units, 450 would be market rental and 50 would be below-market. Several councillors express reservations about the inadequate amount of retail spaces as well as an insufficient amount of affordable units, but Vagramov says he's cautiously optimistic.
"I think we've got a home run here if everybody is on the same page."
2020: Wesgroup returns to council with a revised plan, this time with five towers up to 40 storeys and several smaller buildings up to 10 storeys. Retail space has been increased to 10,000 sq. ft. and it’s added a daycare that could up to 100 children. The developer has also increased the amount of affordable units to 175, but did away with the 450 market rentals.
Jan. 2021: Current residents of Coronation Park express frustration with the slow pace of the redevelopment plan. They say with their properties under contract for sale to the developer, they can’t make improvements to their aging homes and until the redevelopment plan is approved by council, they also can’t get on with their lives.
Later that month, council gives first reading to amend the city’s official community plan to accommodate the project in a special meeting that had to be convened on a Friday after more than four hours of discussion during its regular Tuesday session. But it also gives Wesgroup a shopping list of further suggestions, including:
- reduce the project’s density, possibly at the expense of affordable housing units
- provide more family-oriented units and local shopping options
- include office and light industrial space
- rearrange the placement of the towers so they’re clustered along the eastern side of the property, next to the Coquitlam border
- • include a new civic amenity like a seniors centre or library
Oct. 2021: Polygon presents its plan for the 10-acre Coronation Heights neighbourhood immediately next door in Coquitlam. It includes nine high-rise towers up to 45 storeys for about 5,000 new residents.
Nov. 2021: Wesgroup returns to council with more revisions. The company has reduced the maximum height of the residential towers from up to 40 storeys to 26 - 31 storeys, but it’s added a sixth tower as well as a six-storey rental building with 101 units, about 10 of which would be reserved for seniors. It’s also expanded the planned park at the centre of the development from its original 1.48 acres to 2.52 acres.
As well, a community amenity space would be dedicated to the city.
The developer also says it’s committed to securing a grocery store and drug store as part of the project’s commercial component, along with office space.
But several Port Moody councillors aren’t happy Wesgroup axed the project’s proposed 175 below-market rental apartments as part of its effort to achieve council’s desire for less density and vote to suspend second reading of the OCP amendments. They also want another traffic study to take into account Polygon’s development plan next door.
Wesgroup’s senior vice-president of development, Brad Jones, says the company feels “blindsided” by council’s further demands.
“We are struggling to see a path forward with this council.”
Dec. 2021: Following private discussions between the mayor and the developer, Port Moody council rescinds its postponement of second reading and agrees to send Wesgroup’s proposal to a public hearing provided several conditions are met. They include:
- further exploration of reconfiguring the placement of taller towers along the site’s eastern edge
- a commitment from the developer to explore more affordable housing options
- encourage the developer to provide more job spaces
Coun. Diana Dilworth says some of those elements could be achieved as Wesgroup’s proposal evolves further.
March 2022: Wesgroup returns to council with even more changes to accommodate its demands to reconfigure the site and increase the number of jobs.
This time the company pitches five towers up to 45 storeys, with three of them located along the neighbourhood’s eastern edge, as well as an eight-storey office and retail complex with up to 1,360 jobs. But, it says, it can’t commit to an affordable housing component until the project is approved so the company can secure funding from BC Housing.
However, councillors say they don’t like the new direction and instead vote to send the company’s previous plan to a public hearing.
Wesgroup’s Jones says the company is running out of time to move forward.
April 3, 2022: The public hearing for OCP amendments to accommodate Wesgroup’s redevelopment proposal for Coronation Park is abruptly cancelled after the city is advised it didn’t properly notify nearby residents.
April 26, 2022: Following a public hearing that lasts almost four hours, council approves the OCP amendments for the Coronation Park redevelopment project.
But there’s a hitch.
A new inclusionary zoning policy adopted by council the week before means dense multi-unit developments will require at least 15 per cent of units be below-market rentals or at least six per cent be non-market rentals.
Jones says that could still be negotiated as the project heads for rezoning, but it would likely mean more density or fewer amenities, like the pedestrian overpass.
July 2022: Vagramov announces he won’t seek a second term as Port Moody’s mayor.
Oct. 2022: Veteran councillor Meghan Lahti defeats her council colleague Steve Milani for the mayor’s job. She vows to mend fences, build bridges and “turn the city around.” Incumbent councillors Hunter Madsen and Zoe Royer are also defeated while four new faces join re-elected councillors Diana Dilworth and Amy Lubik.
Feb. 2023: Wesgroup applies for rezoning. The company says it’s met all the requirements requested by council including a plan to make all 101 rental units in the project more affordable by including them in a rent-to-own program. As well the developer says the project will generate 24,000 short-term and 1,075 long-term jobs along with more than $91 million in benefits to the city.
After an early look, council isn’t quite so bullish and tells Wesgroup there’s still room for negotiation.
Feb. 2023: Coquitlam council approves Polygon's redevelopment proposal for neighbouring Coronation Heights.
May 2023: Port Moody council passes first reading of the zoning amendments but expresses a desire its would still like to see a more concerted effort by the developer to include affordable housing. Jones says an independent financial analysis agrees with the company’s contention that can’t happen unless there’s significant trade-offs like increased density or decreased amenities.
Sept. 2023: Council passes second reading of the zoning amendments and sends the project to a second public hearing. After pitches by Couns. Haven Lurbeicki and Dilworth, it also agrees to extend written notice of the hearing to every address in Port Moody because of the magnitude of the project and the impact it could have on the entire city.
How it compares to other big Port Moody development projects
Newport Village was completed by Vancouver-based Bosa Development. It’s comprised of 900 in a mix of low- and high-rise condo buildings, along with a six-storey office building, all clustered around a town square of retail shops.
The recent completion of two new 26-storey condo towers and a six-storey rental building were the final pieces Onni Development's Suter Brook Village project.
The 22-acre master-planned community at the corner of Ioco Road and Murray Street includes more than 1,200 residential units in condo towers and low-rise buildings, retail shops — including a Thrifty’s grocery store — and a nine-storey office complex that was originally supposed to be a hotel.
Woodland Park is currently in its first phase of construction in the city’s west end. When completed by the mid-2030s it will be comprised of 2,053 new homes in buildings from six to 19 stories, a 93-space daycare and 19,000 sq. ft. of commercial space that could include a grocery store and café.
Recently approved by council, Westport Village will feature more than 400 new homes in three towers up to 31 storeys that will also include seniors and rental housing, artists’ live-work studios, a new arts centre and 350-seat theatre, commercial, office and light-industrial spaces and even a boutique hotel.
But John Peller, the CEO of Andrew Peller Ltd. that owns the five-acre property next to the Barnet Highway where it operated a winery from 1961 to 2005, said the company isn’t ready to put shovels into the ground as it seeks a development partner.
The redevelopment of 22 acres of light-industrial and commercial property in Moody Centre, adjacent to the SkyTrain and Westcoast Express station, could eclipse Coronation Park when it’s built out.
Vancouver-based PCI Developments recently submitted an application to build 857 new rental homes in two 39-storey towers plus office and retail space on Spring Street, directly across the station.
It’s the first substantive component of a plan put together by a consortium of nine developers and property owners working to transform the area into a dense mixed-use community with more than 4,100 homes, offices, shops, artists’ studios and a community plaza.
While a redevelopment plan for the 11.9-acre waterfront property that used to be occupied by the old Flavelle cedar mill has been in the works for years and both Port Moody and Metro Vancouver have paved the way with necessary approvals, an actual plan has yet to be realized.
The property’s owner, Flavelle Oceanfront Development, has proposed the construction of almost 3,400 new homes in townhouses and 11 towers ranging from 16 to 38 storeys, a low-rise with 75 live-work units and 60-70 rental apartments.
As well the proposal includes retail, office and light industrial spaces along with a waterfront promenade.