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Saving trees, how one Port Coquitlam developer moved his house to get his subdivision approved

Two developers who seek to subdivide their lots had to prove to Port Coquitlam council that they were willing to save mature trees

Two developers working to save trees while subdividing their properties have won praise and approval from Port Coquitlam city council.

It is not easy to build two homes on a single-family lot in an older neighbourhood while protecting the tree roots of 60-year-old mature trees.

Yet efforts by a developer of property at 1340 Prairie Ave. on the city’s north side and a small lot subdivision proposed for 1777 Langan Ave. on the city’s southwest side show saving trees pays off.

On Tuesday (Feb. 1), city council recommended rezoning for the subdivision plan for 1340 Prairie Ave. be moved to the next stage of approval.

This is the second time the subdivision plan for Prairie Avenue, by JCJL Enterprises Inc., has come before council.

A year ago, councillors sent the project back for more study after a tree protection plan met with some hesitancy.

Since 2018, the developer has sought to rezone the 10,053 sq. ft. property on Prairie Avenue to RS2 in order to subdivide the property into two lots.

The site currently houses a mid-century modern style, single-storey flat roof house built in 1959 on property now worth approximately $1.2 million, according to the BC Assessment Authority.

The property is mid-block along Prairie Avenue, near Birchland Elementary, with the home sitting among several trees, including those of its neighbours.

In the original plan, the arborist had recommended using grade beams supported by piles (long cylinders of strong material pushed into the ground) to protect the root zone of neighbouring trees instead of building one of the homes on a typical concrete pad or footings.

That plan was deferred for more information.

Now, however, the developer has come back with a simpler plan: build the home that is closest to the trees on the existing foundation, but move it forward so the new building footprint is mostly outside the root zones.

To further avoid tree roots, there will be no basement or crawl space and the developer also proposes to retain six on-site trees. 

A variance is required to shift the house forward 1.5 metres, to avoid the neighbouring trees, resulting in a smaller front yard setback (six metres instead of 7.5 metres).

Lot B, the second home, will retain the original 7.5 metre setback.


Meanwhile, on the other side of PoCo, Bikram Gill is proposing to subdivide a property to build two homes, while also keeping several trees.

The property is an 8,245 sq. ft. lot the north side of Langan Avenue near Broadway Street in a neighbourhood recently approved for small lot subdivision.

According to the development plan, nine trees will be kept and protected, including large Douglas firs.

“Removing the trees would have changed the look of the entire area,” said Coun. Steve Darling in approving the plan. 

“It’s really smartly done.”

Construction of a portion of the unopened lane will also be required to relocate the vehicle access to the lane.

According to BC Assessment, the property currently houses a one-storey home built in 1969 and the property was valued at $1.3 million in 2021.