Vancouver-based developer Wesgroup Properties will be able to continue working on its plan to transform Port Moody’s Coronation Park neighbourhood into a dense community for thousands more residents.
But the company will have to consider a long shopping list of possible refinements suggested by city councillors as they unanimously passed first reading for amendments to bylaws and the official community plan (OCP) in a special meeting last Friday. The extraordinary session had to be called when debate was halted early last Wednesday morning after more than four hours of discussion in council’s regular bi-weekly gathering.
Among the items council wants Wesgroup to consider are:
- reining in the project’s density
- a greater mix of family-oriented units
- more local shopping options
- the inclusion of office and light industrial space
- converting some of the existing road network into park space
- explore the reconfiguration of the development by moving some of the high-rise towers from its western perimeter to the eastern side next to the Coquitlam border
- strive for “Interesting and innovative” architecture
- the inclusion of a community garden
- constructing some sort of civic amenity like a seniors centre, library, performance space or even a dog park, that the city could pay for through reduced development cost charges or other financial arrangement
However, some councillors feared the list is too long and too specific for the early stages of Wesgroup’s application to build approximately 2,900 homes in five towers up to 40 storeys as well as five six-storey structures in the 14.8-acre neighbourhood across from the Inlet Centre SkyTrain station.
“I don’t know whether we’re being fair to the applicant,” Coun. Diana Dilworth said. “We need a bit of wiggle room.”
Mayor Rob Vagramov countered most of council’s suggestions are just exploratory to foster further discussion.
While the proposal exceeds the city’s official community plan for the area that allows for towers up to 26 storeys, the company is pitching to compensate for that with 3.4-acres of park space, an 8,000 sq. ft. daycare, 10,000 sq. ft. of local retail space and $2 million for public art.
Dean Johnson, Wesgroup’s vice president of development, told council there’s also been preliminary discussions to include a grocery store along Ioco Road.
But several councillors agreed getting the company to up its ante of 175 below-market rental units as its affordable housing component might be too great an ask if the city wants to achieve other goals for the project.
“Maybe this is a place where we’re not going to get what we want in terms of affordable housing,” Coun. Meghan Lahti said. “The price we’d have to pay is too high.”
Wesgroup president Beau Jarvis said the company is committed to working with council and staff to find common ground.
“We are trying to narrow down what we’re doing here.”
Later, Brad Jones, Wesgroup’s senior vice president of development, told the Tri-City News council’s shopping list isn’t out of the ordinary.
“Each municipality has their own challenges,” he said.