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Port Coquitlam big box proposal will get a second look

A proposal that would see a large commercial development built at Oxford Street and Lougheed Highway in Port Coquitlam on the site of a former car dealership needs more work before receiving council's approval.

A proposal that would see a large commercial development built at Oxford Street and Lougheed Highway in Port Coquitlam on the site of a former car dealership needs more work before receiving council's approval.

Traffic issues and a concern over big-box retail so close to Port Coquitlam's downtown were some of the reasons cited by councillors, who voted unanimously in favour of sending the rezoning application back to committee.

One of the concerns several councillors voiced during Monday's regular meeting dealt with a provision in the proposal that would allow the large-format retailers up to 20% of their floor area for health and personal services.

The amendment could allow smaller businesses to move into the big box outlets, affecting some of the services offered in downtown PoCo.

A 10% allowance for health and personal services was allowed at Walmart and retailers in the Dominion Triangle but this latest proposal is much closer to the city centre, said Coun. Mike Forrest.

"The fact that we allowed the [10%] situation far away in the Fremont Village is different," he said. "This is a lot closer to the city."

Coun. Brad West said he, too, had concerns about the development, particularly the 20% floor space allowance for health and personal services. He told council the city should follow its policy and adding smaller services inside larger commercial buildings would likely affect business in the downtown.

"I'm concerned we are chipping away at our policy," he said. "Each application pushes the boundary further and further."

Traffic concerns are also an issue, he added. A laneway on the north end of the property that is used by many neighbouring residents would likely turn into an alternate access route, causing traffic issues in the area, West said.

The rezoning application was sent back to the smart growth and the transportation solutions and operations committees for further deliberation.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com