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Province provides boost for plan to build more homes near Port Moody SkyTrain station

Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti said she welcomes the initiative, although the province has yet to bring forward a concrete proposal
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This view of the Moody Centre SkyTrain station parking lot will change dramatically as the neighbourhood densifies, including a plan by the province to built homes on a property it owns.

The B.C. government in increasing its stake in getting more housing built in Port Moody's downtown, next to the Moody Centre SkyTrain station.

In a news release Monday, Nov. 27, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced it has acquired a small parcel of land adjacent to property it already owns in the area so it can build more rental units, child care spaces, health care services as well as educational and retail spaces.

While the Ministry's release didn't specifically state which property it has purchased, the B.C. Transportation Financing Authority (BCTFA) owns a 1.2-acre site on the north side of Spring Street that is currently used as a parking lot for SkyTrain and West Coast Express users.

The BCTFA is part of a consortium of developers and property owners that have been working for several years on a master plan to transform 23 acres of light industrial and commercial properties in the Moody Centre area into a dense, transit-oriented mixed-use community of more than 4,100 homes, as well as retail, office and artist spaces.

"Building neighbourhoods next to transit makes sense," said Rob Fleming, B.C.'s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in the release.

"That's why we are focused on creating more communities where people can go to work, school and access the services they need all close to transit."

Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti said she welcomes the initiative, although the city hasn't yet seen a concrete development plan from the province.

"Development in proximity to the Moody Centre SkyTrain station is in keeping with council's goals of encouraging greater use of public transit, climate resilience, increasing access to jobs and services, and more affordable housing options," she said.

According to the release, the money to purchase the property is coming from a $394-million fund the province has allocated for the acquisition of sites as part of its commitment to see more housing built near transit hubs.

Earlier this month, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon introduced new legislation mandating denser development within 800 metres of mass transit stations and within 400 metres of bus exchanges.

If it's passed, cities in Metro Vancouver would have to accommodate development proposals for condo towers at least 20 storeys tall within 200 metres of a SkyTrain station, high- and mid-rise projects of at least 12 storeys between 200 to 400 metres away, and mid-rise buildings at least eight storeys tall between 400 and 800 metres.

Last June, Port Moody was cited by Kahlon as one of 10 municipalities in the province requiring special attention to hasten the pace of housing construction.

In September, he announced the city must get almost 1,700 new housing units built by 2028 to comply with the government's new Housing Supply Act. Of those, 238 must be below-market rental apartments, 466 should be market rentals and 462 should have three bedrooms or more to better accommodate families.

On Nov. 21, Port Moody councillors got their first formal opportunity to comment on a proposal by Vancouver-based PCI Developments to construct 857 new rental homes in two 39-storey towers adjacent to the Moody Centre station. The project includes 43 below-market units as well as a 40,000 sq. ft. grocery store, retail spaces, artist studios and a new community plaza at the station’s entrance.

Another plan by Beedie Living would see the construction of 972 condo units in three towers of 32, 34 and 38 storeys a little further east on Spring Street, as well as 40 below-market rental apartments in a six-storey building on another property at 2806 Spring St.