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Micro-suites not a housing answer for Port Moody as council considers amended condo proposal

A six-storey condo project being proposed for James Road in Port Moody will no longer feature 57 micro-suites after some councillors criticised the tiny living spaces earlier this year.
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A rendering of a six-storey condo project being proposed for James Street in Port Moody.

Apparently micro-suite condos as small as 299 sq. ft. aren’t a solution to Port Moody’s housing affordability crisis.

A 111-unit condo project being proposed for James Road will no longer include 57 of the tiny apartments that local developer Bill Laidler had pitched as appealing to young professionals and recent grads who’ve been priced out of the local housing market and are finding it hard to even afford rent.

Instead, the project has been scaled back to 88 units, of which 38 will be at least 410 sq. ft. studios.

As well, the developer has increased the number of two-bedroom units from five to 19, along with adding five three-bedroom units while reducing the number of one-bedroom apartments to 29 from 49.

The amendments will be considered by Port Moody council at its meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 7).

In his presentation last April, Laidler said the tiny units that would likely sell for between $350,000 and $400,000 would feature “smart” features like stowaway storage and adjustable furniture to maximize available space.

But several councillors expressed concern such micro-suites were out of place in a suburban setting with few amenities nearby.

Coun. Meghan Lahti feared the project’s location midway between the Moody Centre and Inlet SkyTrain stations but far from shopping and nightlife wouldn’t make the micro-suites attractive to buyers.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said the density for the six-storey building wasn’t appropriate.

But Mayor Rob Vagramov said the compact living spaces would provide much-needed housing options for young people.

While councillors eventually gave first reading to the zoning bylaw amendments required for the project to proceed, then rescinded it at a subsequent meeting, Laidler’s reimagining of the development that includes several other changes as well means a second public information meeting would be required should council give the proposal second reading and advance it to a public hearing, according to Port Moody’s senior planner Wesley Woo.

He said council may also opt to refer the project to the city’s land-use committee and/or its advisory design panel for further review.

Other changes Laidler is proposing for the project include:

  • Renting 15 per cent of the units at 15 per cent below market rates for 10 years
  • Offering units first to Port Moody residents and people who work in the city
  • Increasing the number of adaptable units from 45 from 11 fully accessible units
  • Private outdoor space for all units