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Redevelopment of Port Moody’s Woodland Park steps closer to reality

Port Moody's Woodland Park neighbourhood is set to become a mixed-use community with rental and strata homes in buildings from four to 12 storeys.
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A rendering of one of the active public parks and retail space that would be part of an extensive redevelopment of Port Moody's Woodland Park neighbourhood.

The redevelopment of Port Moody’s aging Woodland Park neighbourhood is a step closer to reality.

Tuesday, city councillors gave first reading to amendments to zoning bylaws and Port Moody’s official community plan that will allow the massive project — that’s expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete — to proceed. The vote paves the way for second reading and a public hearing to follow sometime in the next year, after the developer, Edgar Developments, continues refinements to its proposal.

The company’s president, Peter Edgar, said the transformation of the 23.4-acre, L-shaped site in Port Moody’s west end will be dramatic, turning an enclave of low-rise townhomes built in the 1960s into a “world-class community.”

Best of all, he assured councillors, nobody currently living there will lose their homes, or be priced out of the neighbourhood, as people who are displaced during construction will have first crack at the new affordable homes.

Edgar said the company has a $140-million commitment from BC Housing to build 325 affordable units in the project’s first phase of construction. In total, the development will be comprised of 1,861 homes to be constructed in five distinct districts over seven phases; 132 units will be market rental apartments, while the remainder will be strata.

As well, the project will be anchored by 19,000 sq. ft. of commercial space that’s to include a grocery store and café, along with a 93-space daycare.

Brad Foster, of BC Housing, called his agency’s investment in the project “unprecedented,” adding the affordable units will be managed by one or more non-profit organizations.

“We feel it is a truly exemplary master plan,” he said. “There will be a lot of benefits coming to the city.”

Edgar said in addition to the new homes for about 3,800 people, the plan will preserve the area’s unique outdoor character with two parks and a 1.9-km. active trail to be gifted to the city. As well, parking for all the buildings — that range from four to 12 storeys — will be underground, allowing each to be separated by expansive, semi-public green spaces.

“We want to create a family-oriented community,” he said.

Mark Ostry, of the project’s architectural firm, Acton Ostry Architects, said in total, about 16 acres of the site would remain green space, including extensive set backs from one creek and two unnamed watercourses.

“That is a commitment to the environment,” he said.

Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov said he was impressed with the way the project has evolved from the company’s first pitch that included several 26-storey high-rise towers, a small daycare and very little commercial space.

“There’s a lot in this development that I really like,” he said, adding the plan’s latest incarnation is “way more than we expected.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth agreed.

“This is a unique opportunity,” she said. “This land owner has been particularly reactive to council feedback.”

Coun. Hunter Madsen said he was impressed by the “complete community vision” presented by Edgar and his team. But, he added, he still has some reservations about the amount of traffic it might generate, considering the neighbourhood’s distance from any mass transit service like SkyTrain or West Coast Express.

“Transportation is the main gotcha for this project,” he said.

But Edgar assured councillors a plan to ease congestion is already in the works. The company has options on additional properties that would allow for the realignment and reconstruction of Highview Place to smooth its steep gradient and connect it at a new intersection with the Barnet Highway.

Coun. Steve Milani said the realization of such a realignment could determine his future support for the project.

“We need to get that road in place, no ifs, ands or buts,” he said. “We can’t take it lightly that we’re adding all this extra density to this area.”