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Non-profit daycare, non-market housing set ‘standard’ for future Port Moody developments

The project includes a 49-spot daycare to be operated by the YMCA
0218-PoMoCondoProjectFile 1w
An artist's rendering of a proposed condo project on St. Johns Street in Port Moody, just east of the police station.

A Port Moody councillor is hopeful a new six-storey mixed-use condo complex on St. Johns Street just east of the police station will set “a standard” for similar developments in the city.

On Tuesday (June 28), council gave third reading to amendments of zoning and official community plan bylaws that will allow the project to proceed.

Coun. Diana Dilworth praised the developer’s inclusion of a non-profit daycare for 49 kids to be managed by the YMCA along with 10 non-market rental units to be owned and operated by the Bloom Group – a Vancouver-based social services organization.

As well, 12 of the project’s 197 units will be available through a rent-to-own program.

“This is a really great example of how partnerships can work,” said Dilworth, adding she’s especially pleased by the non-market rental unit, boosted from six to 10 since the proposal was last before council.

“We do not have shelter rate housing, so this is a great benefit to the community.”

Coun. Amy Lubik was equally ebullient. “I think it adds a lot to the community.”

But Coun. Steve Milani said the six-storey frontage along St. Johns Street is too much.

“We’re going to end up with walls six storeys straight up,” he said, urging developers to think about the impact such structures might have on “liveability” in the community.

Milani also suggested the daycare might be better located in the complex’s second floor, as its presence on the ground floor does nothing “to activate the street frontage” along St. Johns.

Earlier, Blaire Chisholm, chief operating officer of Pooni Group, told council the project’s amenity package is worth about $10.6 million, including a contribution to the city’s community amenity fund of $552,000.

“This site is really a perfect site for the amenities we’re proposing,” she said, citing its close proximity to Moody Middle School.

Chisholm also said the non-market housing will be geared towards people earning less than $30,000 a year.

“We’re really looking at deep affordability here.”

Since the project was first considered by council in February 2021, it’s had a bit of a rocky ride.

A last-minute request by the proponents to delay a public hearing for the project in May 2021 so they could continue working on enhancements to their amenity package was rejected in a narrow vote by councillors, necessitating a second public hearing that was conducted before Tuesday’s meeting.

The decision to proceed with the first public hearing sparked a sudden absence from the subsequent meeting of three councillors who had wanted to grant the request for a delay, leaving consideration of third reading for the necessary bylaw amendments in limbo as there was no longer a quorum.

In the days that followed, councillors sparred on social media with Mayor Rob Vagramov about the timing of the developer’s request to hold off proceedings and four of them failed to attend a special meeting scheduled to continue the derailed agenda.

Pooni’s Chisholm informed councillors Tuesday the project’s original proponent, The Buffalo Group, had decided to take a step back and was now involved only at “arm’s length.”