Affordable housing is the sweetener for a massive neighbourhood redevelopment in Port Moody and a third SkyTrain station for the city could be the kicker.
On Tuesday (July 20), Port Moody council gave third reading to changes that would — if given final adoption — allow Edgar Developments to build 2,053 units of housing on the Woodland Park property currently housing 200 older rental units on sloped land near Clarke Road.
What moved many councillors to approve the plan for 24 acres at 1142 Cecil Dr. and 300 Angela Dr. — despite significant neighbourhood opposition — was a proposal for 325 units of affordable rental housing, the largest provincial investment in affordable housing for the Tri-Cities in decades.
Only Port Coquitlam, with a 302-unit affordable housing project in the works has something equivalent, with its Kingsway Avenue project soon to be underway.
The Woodland Park non-market housing, backed by $140 million from BC Housing on five acres of land provided by the Edgar group, would be built first in the staged development.
It would “Increase Port Moody’s social housing supply by more than 50% and represents one of biggest investments the provincial government has ever made outside of Vancouver,” council was told by Keir Macdonald, CEO of the Phoenix Society, and a 10-year PoMo resident.
B.C. Housing Minister David Eby backs the affordable housing plan for Port Moody, commenting on CBC News it would be a “litmus test” for working with municipalities.
Mayor Rob Vagramov called on council to push now for SkyTrain as the project has significant provincial interest and more development pressures are coming for the west side of the city.
Vagramov said the city needs to find out what it would need to do — including obtaining money from future development — to get a third SkyTrain on TransLink’s radar.
He said such a study was necessary to “help him get to a place of third reading.”
Council agreed, as long as it didn’t tie up the Woodland Park development process.
Information on a third station, where and what it might cost could be available as soon as the new year.
The Woodland Park project drew one of the largest public engagements for the city in recent memory with a nearly four-hour public hearing and more than 100 pieces of correspondence.
But despite concerns raised about traffic and increased density — and a no vote from Coun. Steve Milani — council agreed to send the proposal to a fourth reading, likely this fall.
Approval will also allow the Edgar group to provide reduced community amenity contributions owing to significant contributions toward affordable housing and park amenities.
Many who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting were unhappy with that deal. However, the developer originally wanted to be exempt from providing the contributions.
As for a third SkyTrain station, it’s not unprecedented for a city to lobby for another station, with contributions from developers. That’s what the city of Coquitlam did to obtain the Lincoln Station outside Coquitlam Centre shopping centre.
For the developer, Tuesday’s agreement means it can continue to work on its development and although fourth reading is not guaranteed, council’s vote gives it some comfort that it’s on the right track.
“We are very happy that the city of Port Moody has demonstrated its support for affordable housing in their community,” said Peter Edgar, president of Edgar Developments, in a statement to the Tri-City News.
“Our partnership with BC Housing can serve as a template for how to bring together different housing options in one location, while rejuvenating a neighbourhood over time. I want to thank Council, staff, BC Housing, and everyone who has supported this project.”
In addition to 325 units of non-market rental housing, the proposal will provide 1,596 strata units and 132 market rental units, along with child care with 93 spaces, 19,000 square feet of retail space and 8.1 acres of parkland, trails and environmental preserve.