A massive redevelopment of Port Moody’s 23.4-hectare Woodland Park neighbourhood will go to a public hearing.
But several councillors indicated on Tuesday there could be storm clouds on the horizon for the project.
One of those was a request by the proponent, Vancouver-based Edgar Developments, for the city to waive and offset about $20 million in charges for community amenities and development costs that are used to help pay for infrastructure like road improvements and civic facilities.
That request was rejected by a majority of councillors.
Company president Peter Edgar said instead of the cash contributions, the city would realize about $200 million in other benefits like 325 affordable rental units to be constructed in the first of the project’s seven phases and will be offered to existing residents being displaced.
As well, the city stands to gain about 13 acres of dedicated parks and restored environmentally sensitive areas along with a newly realigned access route along Highview Place that will connect to a new signalized intersection at the Barnet Highway and Clarke Street.
As part of that realignment, Port Moody would also be gifted a parcel of property that could be used for construction of a new fire hall.
But Coun. Hunter Madsen said the proposed project’s 2,053 new homes (up from 1,861 because of a transfer of density from properties acquired to build the new road) in buildings from six to 19 storeys would put an enormous strain on Port Moody’s infrastructure like nearby parks.
Coun. Steve Milani said more indoor recreation space would also likely be needed to accommodate the new residents.
Mayor Rob Vagramov characterized the developer’s proposed transportation solution as a “road to nowhere” that might address current congestion but will buckle under the weight of thousands of new residents moving into the city’s west end.
“The transportation issue is a showstopper for me,” he said.
Instead, Vagramov successfully pitched an amendment tasking staff to work with Edgar and other area developers to explore the feasibility of constructing a third SkyTrain station for the city.
Still, he added, the project has “a lot going for it.”
Not the least of which is a partnership with BC Housing worth about $160 million to build the 325 affordable rental units on five acres of land; those homes would first be made available to residents now living in the neighbourhood’s aging collection of 200 townhomes that were built in the 1960s.
Coun. Amy Lubik said such a commitment to provide affordable housing is “unprecedented” that would “set a new standard for all future development proposals in the city.”
Coun. Diana Dilworth added the proposal “helps us realize our goal of affordable housing for everyone.”
Other enhancements to the project since it was first pitched more than a year ago include:
• 19,000 sq. ft. of commercial space that could include a grocery story and café or several smaller food outlets
• a daycare with 93 spaces
• 1.9 km of active trails that will connect the project’s five neighbourhoods and will be turned over to the city
• expansive, semi-public green space between all the buildings
• environmental restoration and protection around one creek and two unnamed watercourses that run through the site
Mark Ostry, of the project’s architectural firm, Acton Ostry Architects, said the master-planned community, which likely wouldn’t be completed until sometime in the mid-2030s, offers Port Moody “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” that’s also a “precedent-setting example of inclusivity.”
BC Housing’s Brad Foster called the project “world class,” while Edgar said its realization would be “a huge win for the city.”
Dilworth said with so much at stake, “the public have a right to weigh in at this point.”
While a date for the public hearing has yet to be set, city planner André Boel told council the project’s massive scale means notices of the meeting will be sent to residents further afield than the standard 400 m radius from the affected property.
• The developer is holding two online webinars about the project on July 5, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. or 6:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, go to www.woodlandparkliving.ca.