Two towers with homes for hundreds of residents are set to rise close to SkyTrain in Port Coquitlam.
Short of having its own SkyTrain station, the 556 units proposed by Mosaic Homes will be the city's first transit-oriented homes within 400 metres of Lincoln Station in Coquitlam.
Tuesday (Sept. 20.), councillors unanimously approved third reading for a rezoning for 2.1 acres of land that would permit towers on lots at 3620, 3640, 3646 and 3650 Westwood St. and 3639 and 3643 Woodland Dr.
Affordable rental housing
When complete, the two towers, at 28 and 30 storeys in height, will provide a mix of 486 strata units and 70 rental units, including 21 non-market rental units in homes ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments.
Additionally, the project will include 12,000 square feet of commercial space in eight units, with space for office use, cafes, restaurants and even a child care centre.
In the works for more than a year, the Mosaic towers will also provide amenities for residents, road improvements on Westwood Street, an extension of Anson Avenue, a pocket park with public access and more than $6 million in capital infrastructure funding that will include sewer upgrades.
Several residents turned out to the public hearing to support the project, many of them noting that the project will provide much-needed affordable rental housing in the city.
More housing needed
One local business owner said he "strongly supports" the project because it could provide housing for his employees who work at a door and window operation just 3.5 km away, noting that employees could even cycle to work.
Another resident, who lives nearby, said he, too, was in favour of the project, even though it might cause noise and disturbance during construction.
He said the city's biggest concern is housing "availability," and the project would go a long way towards meeting local housing needs.
But at least one resident expressed concerns about the removal of 100 trees to excavate the site for the towers.
100 trees chopped down
Jeannette Leach said the loss of trees will create a heat island effect, which makes it hot to walk in the city during the summer.
"The more trees that we lose, the more we have a concrete jungle... the harder it becomes to walk and play outside."
Some councillors noted the loss of trees and said it was disappointing but said it's a trade-off to get important housing to the city.
Even with new trees planted for the development, the city would be short 60 trees from the project, which would have to be made up elsewhere.
Coun. Laura Dupont, who is not running for re-election, said the project is so far along it would be difficult to save trees but she said she hoped the city could replace the lost trees through an enhanced tree bylaw or other measures.
'Where else would we put towers?'
Still others noted that the towers themselves are important for increasing density without adding to urban sprawl.
Mayor Brad West noted that the region will see an additional one million people by 2050 due to immigration and Port Coquitlam will likely have to accept its share.
"Port Coquitlam is not an island," West said, noting as well the project will add important infrastructure and amenities without additional cost to taxpayers.
He also pointed out that the project is close to SkyTrain, something that is necessary to get people out of their cars.
"The reality is, right now you can't get closer to a rapid transit line than at this particular location," West said.
He said the last time the city approved a tower it was more than 14 years ago, a project that was controversial at the time.
Now though, residents need "choices," especially if they can't afford the $1.5 to $2 million for a single family home, he said.
"We have to have options for every single demographic in Port Coquitlam," West said adding: "If you are not putting it here, where are you putting it?