A proposal to redevelop Port Moody’s Coronation Park area into a dense urban neighbourhood will need more work before it’s formally presented to council for rezoning.
Councillors got their first look on Tuesday at the plan by Vancouver-based Wesgroup Properties to build six highrise towers up to 36 storeys, as well as five six-storey buildings that would be home to more than 4,200 people in 2,850 residential units.
The neighbourhood that is currently bordered by Ioco Road, Guildford and Balmoral drives and the Barnet Highway is comprised of 59 single-family homes.
Brad Jones, the vice-president of development for Wesgroup, told council’s committee of the whole the company has reached agreements to purchase most of those properties, but the sales won’t be finalized until it’s achieved the rezoning that will allow redevelopment. He hopes that can happen by June 2022.
Jones said the project’s location right at the Coquitlam border along Barnet would make it an important gateway to Ioco Road that will offer residents easy access to transit, shopping and parks, He added that connectivity to the surrounding area will be enhanced by a one-acre linear park that runs through the heart of the development and will be bolstered by pocket parks and play spaces for kids.
But several councillors expressed concern that while the one acre of park space being proposed conforms to the city’s official community plan for the neighbourhood, it’s not enough to serve so many potential residents.
“It’s the ratio between residents and park space that is really, really important,” Coun. Zoe Royer said.
Mayor Rob Vagramov suggested the company could increase park space by eliminating one of the lowrise structures or by putting access to most of the neighbourhood underground.
Councillors also expressed a desire for more affordable housing in the project, saying Wesgroup’s pitch for 450 market and 50 non-market rental units is inadequate.
“The amount that has been proposed is very minimal,” Coun. Steve Milani said. “Affordable housing is a big deal in Port Moody since nobody can afford to live here.”
Beau Jarvis, Wesgroup’s president, said the company would be open to increasing the project’s affordable housing component if it makes sense financially.
“It’s expensive to build non-market housing,” he said, adding various mechanisms other than further increasing the project’s density could be considered to bring the numbers in line, such as a relaxation of parking space requirements.
Jarvis later told The Tri-City News the company's proposal for the project's affordable housing component is already above and beyond what's required by the city's official community plan for the area. He said increasing that component will add more cost to the project, possibly affecting the price his company has been able to negotiate with current property owners.
Some councillors said Wesgroup’s proposal to include just over 1,100 square feet of retail space is also less than should be part of such a dense development.
“We can’t just say go to Suter Brook or Newport Village,” said Coun. Hunter Madsen, adding he’d also like to see more employment opportunities become part of the plan.
“Being so close to transit, that would be a logical place to expect something more than nothing when it comes to office space.”
Jones said the project’s location is already handy to nearby retail and office spaces and its goal is to create a community that enhances connectivity to those amenities.
“Our approach is to connect it to the broader community,” he said. “Residents can walk and cycle to things that are already in the community.”
Vagramov said he’s hopeful Tuesday’s dialogue between council and the developer can provide clarity to move the project forward to a formal application.
“I think we’ve got a home run here if everybody is on the same page.”