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Proposal for Bosa Foods store would fill a need in Port Moody, but is it too big?

The store would be modelled after a similar outlet on Vancouver's Victoria Drive
A rendering shows the front entrance and patio to a new Bosa Foods store being proposed for St. Johns Street and Queens Street.

A new grocery store would be a welcome addition to Port Moody’s downtown area.

But some councillors are concerned a proposal by Bosa Foods and Cornerstone Architecture to build a mixed-use project on the south side of St. Johns Street at Queen’s Street – that includes a 9,400 sq. ft. specialty food store and 47 rental apartments in a four-storey residential block — is too big.

In the first formal look at a pre-application for the project during a meeting of council’s initiatives and planning committee last Tuesday (Feb. 21), concerns were raised about the building’s footprint that could cover 90 per cent of the two lots that sit next to a protected heritage home.

“It feels like it needs to be shrunk down,” said Coun. Haven Lurbiecki.

Other councillors worried about the number of trees that would have to be cut down to accommodate the project while Coun. Callan Morrison said the developer’s plan to locate the entrance to the residential parkade at the back of the building would be a tight squeeze along narrow and steeply-sloped St. Andrews Street.

Port Moody senior planner Kevin Jones also suggested a plan to build a new multi-use path along that part of St. Johns could hinder Bosa’s plan to locate an outdoor patio along the sidewalk for patrons of its coffee shop.

But none of those issues are insurmountable, said Scott Kennedy of Cornerstone Architecture.

“Certainly there’s lots of enhancement of the design we can do,” he told councillors while acknowledging the building’s footprint is largely to accommodate the grocery store as well as its indoor parking area and loading bay.

Bruno Benedet, the president of Bosa Foods, said his company is excited to bring its “old-world shopping experience” to Port Moody. The company currently operates two other stores in east Vancouver and its location on Victoria Drive will serve as a template for its newest venture.

Benedet said the smaller size of a Bosa Foods store, reclaimed wood beams and amenities like a coffee shop and outdoor seating bring a community feel to the shopping experience.

“Yes it’s a grocery store, but it feels like a very welcoming space,” he said. “Part of our branding is we believe we should give back to the community.”

That was music to the ears of most councillors, including Mayor Meghan Lahti, who said she “would love to see this project come to fruition.”

Jones said the project is just a pre-application and staff are still reviewing; there will be plenty of opportunity for refinements as it goes through various committees.

The proposal also requires amendments to the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaws.

Kennedy said his company and Bosa are excited to move forward.

“We’ve heard a lot of anecdotal evidence there’s a desperate need for a food store in that area.”

SOUND OFF: Do you think Port Moody is underserved by grocery stores? What kind of stores would you like to see and how might the city be able to help attract them? Send us a letter.