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Proposed Port Moody rental tower shouldn't be 'a faith-based building': committee

The attached Ismaili cultural centre replaces another facility on St. Johns Street that had to close because of structural problems.
A rendering of a new 12-storey rental tower and Ismaili cultural centre being proposed by Anthem Properties for the northwest corner of St. Johns and Moray streets in Port Moody.

Port Moody should seek assurances from the developer of a proposed residential tower on St. Johns Street, which also includes a new Ismaili cultural centre that all 128 of its rental units will be available to anyone in the community.

The suggestion is one of several from the city's land use committee that will be forwarded to council when it begins its consideration of rezoning and amendments to Port Moody's official community plan Anthem Properties requires before it can proceed with the project.

Committee chair, Coun. Kyla Knowles, said the city needs to "make sure it’s not going to be a faith-based building" and "that people of all faiths are going to have an equal opportunity to live there."

Other concerns raised by the committee, that is comprised of two councillors and several members of the community, include:

  • access for residents to green space on the roof of the cultural centre
  • the allocation of parking spaces for residents as well as those to be used by members of the adjoining cultural centre
  • insufficient balcony sizes
  • the need for more children’s play spaces
  • prioritizing larger units to accommodate families

The 12-storey residential tower will sit atop a four-storey above-ground parking structure on the northwest corner of St. Johns and Moray streets — a site currently occupied by a two-storey commercial building that includes offices and a restaurant as well as a multi-unit light industrial building that contains several auto service and repair shops.

Half of the proposed 128 rental units will be available for 20 per cent below market rates as determined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) median rents for the Tri-Cities area.

As well, 34 of the market rental units, and 30 of the below market units will be adaptable.

The adjoining cultural centre, or Jamatkhana, will measure 45,818 sq. ft. and features a landscaped courtyard on its roof, as well as latticework screens that are characteristic of Islamic architecture shrouding its south, north and east walls.

The centre would be a replacement for a former Ismaili gathering place at St. Johns Street and James Road that had to be closed because of structural problems.

There are about 20,000 Ismaili Muslims in B.C.

Suggestions made by the land use committee are non-binding, but can serve as a guideline for council as it considers whether a development proposal is appropriate for its location.