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Victoria Drive lot could've had 104 homes: Port Coquitlam mayor

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West warned the city's committee this week that a proposed 26-lot development on Victoria Drive could have been converted for 104 homes under B.C.'s new housing legislation.

The future of land-use bids now before city councils in B.C. played out at Port Coquitlam City Hall this week, with residents in the council chambers but banned from speaking up.

Under the recently unveiled rules set by the provincial government pertaining to housing — in a bid to address the housing crisis — there are no public input opportunities.

Instead, as seen at yesterday’s committee meeting, April 23, PoCo elected officials relied on previous consultation with the community and letters to inform their vote on a rezoning application and development variance permit for a 27-lot subdivision at 1160 Victoria Dr.

About a dozen neighbourhood residents were in the audience for the 2 p.m. committee meeting to hear council discuss the merits of the development plan, for nearly an hour.

The lack of live feedback “is a gift from the province,” Mayor Brad West quipped when Coun. Darrell Penner voiced his frustration with the public hearing stop. West also urged the crowd to contact Port Coquitlam MLA and deputy premier Mike Farnworth about the change.

The proposal for 1160 Victoria Dr., which the committee advanced to council for formal approval, calls for the 4.3-acre property to be rezoned for 26 residential lots on 3.23 acres. The remaining 1.04 acres would be converted to a city park to save a watercourse.

According to a report from Bruce Irvine, PoCo’s director of development services, the site on the Coquitlam border, south of Victoria Park, currently has an older house, an accessory building and a pool that haven’t been used for several years.

HY Engineering held two consultation rounds with neighbours in 2021 and 2023, the latter an open house at Hyde Creek Recreation Centre with 52 people in attendance — many of whom cited concerns about the site access, increased traffic and tree removal.

In fact, the access proved to be the stickler for Couns. Steve Darling and Paige Petriw who voted in favour of the site having an internal through-road (with a right-in and right-out) while the committee majority voted to follow the staff’s recommendation of having a new local road connecting to Lynwood Avenue, a lane for rear yard vehicle access to the lots fronting Victoria Drive, plus a public walkway connecting the new road to Victoria Drive.

Coun. Nancy McCurrach said the development will help the city reach its housing target of 550 homes a year; the Victoria Drive property would also allow secondary suites.

And Coun. Dean Washington praised HY Engineering for its community outreach. “I don’t recall too many developers who have bent this far to accommodate residents.”

Washington also took aim at Victoria for its “dog’s breakfast” of housing legislation.

Still, West reminded council that, under the new provincial rules, developers can build a fourplex on single-family lots; for the Victoria Drive bid, that would mean 104 homes.