The redevelopment of Port Moody’s Coronation Park neighbourhood is a step closer.
But council’s approval to amend the official community plan (OCP) for the area comes with a hitch.
The developer, Vancouver-based Wesgroup Properties, will have to bring assurances that at least 15 per cent of the 2,665 units being proposed will be affordable housing when it applies for rezoning of the 14.8-acre site.
The proviso, successfully championed by Coun. Hunter Madsen, would bring the project in line with a new inclusionary zoning policy endorsed by council just last week.
The policy — for any new multi-unit development with a density of greater than 2.0 floor area ratio (FAR) — requires a minimum of 15 per cent of units be below-market rentals or at least six per cent be non-market rental units.
(Floor area ratio is the relationship between the usable floor area in a building to the gross area of the lot where it’s built.)
And while the policy is not intended to apply to projects already before the city, Port Moody’s general manager of community development, Kate Zanon, told councillors because Wesgroup has yet to apply for rezoning for its Coronation Park project, it would have to comply.
Earlier, Wesgroup’s senior vice-president of development, Brad Jones, said the company expects to submit its rezoning application “soon.”
He also suggested amenities like an affordable housing component could be negotiated during the rezoning process.
But, he added, they would likely come at the expense of additional density or other proposed amenities such as seniors housing, a pedestrian overpass linking the neighbourhood to the Inlet SkyTrain station or a community amenity space that would be operated and programmed by the city.
“All of these items are choices for the city,” Jones said, adding the company would continue working with funding partners to explore affordable housing options.
The vote to allow Wesgroup’s proposal to proceed to the next step came early Wednesday morning after a public hearing that lasted almost four hours.
A large majority of speakers expressed support for the project that would be comprised of:
- six towers up to 31 storeys
- a rental building and office space
- a 9,500 sq. ft. daycare that can accommodate 90 to 120 children
- a 2,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. city-owned amenity space
- 76,000 sq. ft. of retail space, including a grocery store
- 2.53 acre public park
Some residents who live in the 59 single-family homes that currently comprise the neighbourhood implored council to give its assent, so they could finalize sales agreements for their properties to Wesgroup.
“For the past few years, it’s really held our future in your hands,” said one homeowner. “It’s been difficult.”
Opponents said the project is too dense and offers little to address the city’s lack of affordable housing options.
“Building luxury condos at Coronation Park will not make housing in this community more affordable,” said one speaker.
But the project’s architect, Alan Boniface — who grew up in Port Moody’s Glenayre neighbourhood — said the project, with its central park, proximity to transit and dynamic mix of residential, commercial and office spaces, would become a “cherished space” in the city.
“It is a world-class project,” he said.
Not all councillors were convinced.
Madsen said Wesgroup’s proposal “fails to hit it out of the park for this community,” except for the overcrowding it represents.
“We may be making the most unfortunate urban planning mistake in the history of Port Moody,” he added.
Coun. Steve Milani said he’d favour a more “quaint update to the neighbourhood” comprised of townhomes, secondary suites and carriage houses.
“When looking at a project of this magnitude, we have to ask ourselves what does this project do for the residents of Port Moody?” he added.
Plenty, said Coun. Meghan Lahti, noting all residents who spoke at the meeting are able to live in the city because of council decisions made in the past.
“This is an exciting opportunity to build a new neighbourhood,” she said. “Once it’s completed, it will house a new generation of Port Moody residents.”
Coun. Diana Dilworth reminded her colleagues when the city got two SkyTrain stops, “there was an acknowledgement we would grow around those SkyTrain stations and so far we haven’t lived up to that.”
She said approving the land use for the neighbourhood was imperative, so council and the developer could get on with negotiating “some of the nitty-gritty stuff” like affordable housing.
Coun. Amy Lubik said she was “somewhat torn” about the project, adding some of her concerns about its lack of an affordable housing component could be addressed through “a lot of negotiating.”
In the end, only Madsen and Milani voted against adoption of the OCP amendment after Vagramov reversed his opposition at third reading, saying he didn’t want to stand in the project’s way forward at this early stage.
“Let’s get on with it,” he said.