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Port Moody condo project that includes non-profit daycare will get a second public hearing

A 197-unit condo project that also includes a non-profit daycare will get a second public hearing after the developer proposed several revisions.
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An artist's rendering of a proposed condo project on St. Johns Street in Port Moody, just east of the police stations

A mixed-use condo project that was almost derailed by a procedural fracas between Port Moody councillors will get a second public hearing.

But council would still like to see the developer consider a few more tweaks.

The 197-unit project by Vancouver-based Buffalo Group is comprised of a six-storey, L-shaped structure to be constructed on St. Johns Street at Buller, just east of Port Moody’s police station.

While Buffalo Group’s most recent proposal included 44 market-rental apartments, as well as an additional six to be made available at shelter rates as low as $375 a month, the company amended its affordability package to lower the number of market-rental apartments to 38 — with another six being made available to buyers through a rent-to-own program.

The six shelter-rate apartments remain; they’ll be owned and operated by the Bloom Group, a non-profit organization that provides several forms of supportive and affordable housing.

As well, Buffalo Group’s proposal includes a 49-space non-profit daycare to be managed by the YMCA.

But Coun. Hunter Madsen said on Tuesday that those amenities aren’t enough to justify Buffalo Group’s desire to secure an amendment to Port Moody’s official community plan so the backside of the structure, along St. George Street, can be constructed to six storeys — three more than is currently allowed.

“Given their ask for a great deal more density, it makes me feel we haven’t got enough value for the community from this project,” Madsen said.

Though his motion to have the developer consider scaling back the project back to three storeys along St. George Street ultimately failed, council did get behind a request Buffalo Group look at boosting the development’s affordability by including 12 shelter-rate units in addition to the six rent-to-own units.

But Chi Chi Cai, a senior planner with Brook Pooni Associates that’s working with the developer, cautioned such a change might not be practical as discussions it’s had with Bloom Group indicated the organization only has capacity to run six shelter-rate apartments.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said council has to be careful not to ask for too much, as every concession it achieves for affordability will likely be borne by purchasers of the project’s strata units.

“We may give ourselves a gold star for getting the market rental and shelter-rate housing, but we are increasing affordability on one side while decreasing it on the other side,” she said.

Tuesday’s vote to task staff to schedule another public hearing for the project completes a process that went off the rails on May 25 when councillors couldn’t agree to delay its consideration so the developer could further amend its proposal.

After a motion by Coun. Meghan Lahti to defer further discussion about the project, she, Dilworth and Coun. Zoe Royer left the meeting and, with Coun. Amy Lubik already absent, it had to be adjourned because there was no longer quorum.

The dispute then migrated to social media with Lahti and Mayor Rob Vagramov exchanging contradictory timelines of when they were notified of the developer’s request to delay proceedings.