Is Port Moody ready for 45-storey condo towers?
That’s the question councillors will wrestle with Tuesday (March 1) as they consider significant revisions to redevelopment plans for the city’s Coronation Park neighbourhood that would see it become home to more than 5,000 residents.
The changes mean council will have to rescind its previous second reading of amendments to the city’s official community plan and begin the step again before the project can go to a public hearing.
Among the changes Vancouver-based developer Wesgroup Properties is proposing for the 14.8-acre site directly across Ioco Road from the Inlet SkyTrain station are:
- reducing the number of towers the company proposes to build from six to five
- increasing the height of the three towers on the east side of the site, next to Balmoral Drive — to up to 45 storeys from 31 storeys previously — to reallocate the density lost by excised tower
- doubling the size of the office building to eight storeys — including one floor of retail space — resulting in the creation of up to 1,360 jobs
- enlarging a community amenity building to 20,000 sq. ft. from 15,000 sq. ft.
In a letter sent to council, Wesgroup’s senior development manager Evan French said the changes are in response to council’s direction to concentrate density in the project along Balmoral Drive and to increase the number of employment spaces so its ratio of jobs to population improves.
French said the company “sought to create a plan that would respond to these requests while retaining as much of the base site plan and overall design that has previously been moved to second reading by council.”
Council had given Wesgroup’s previous plan second reading on Dec. 7 after private discussions with the company in the wake of a decision Nov. 23 to hold off so the city could assess the impact of a massive redevelopment plan for the adjacent 10-acre Coronation Heights on the Coquitlam side of the neighbourhood.
That plan, by Polygon, would see the construction of eight — or possibly nine — towers up to 45 storeys on the site of a former elementary school on Balmoral Drive.
Port Moody councillors said they also wanted to see more affordable housing in Wesgroup’s proposal and a more comprehensive study of the redevelopment’s impact on traffic before scheduling a public hearing.
But a staff report by Port Moody’s city planner André Boel said BC Housing contends it’s still too early to determine how it might be able to participate in the provision of an affordable housing component and Wesgroup stands by its position that it can only be achieved with additional density.
The proposal already includes a six-storey market rental building comprised of 80 to 100 units, of which 10 per cent would be reserved for seniors and some would be part of a rent-to-own program.
Boel also said a report by Port Coquitlam-based transportation consultants CTS determined the project’s impact on traffic volumes would be “negligible,” but more detailed assessments and mitigation plans could be made when the proposal is at the rezoning stage.
Meanwhile, residents of the 59 aging single-family homes that currently comprise Coronation Park are left in limbo as the clock runs down on agreements to sell their properties to Wesgroup on condition its redevelopment plans get approved.
Brad Jones, Wesgroup’s senior vice president of development, said in a news release: “Residents need clarity and so do we.”
He added if that doesn’t come promptly, “it is not certain that we will be able to move forward.”