Monster homes or just big houses on Port Moody's Alderside Road?

A task force examining the issue of monster homes in Port Moody will pay particular attention to the effects of its findings on waterfront residences along Alderside Road.

The closer look was sparked by city council’s decision Jan. 14 to approve a bylaw amendment that will allow a homeowner to replace an older home at 804 Alderside with a 5,494-sq. ft. house. And though that’s "comparable in size" to the original structure, which was built in 1987, it’s more than twice the size allowed in the area by current zoning regulations.

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Councillors were told the new home would occupy the same footprint as the previous dwelling and present a similar profile at street level, although with more contemporary architecture. At a public hearing prior to the council meeting, the proposal was widely supported by neighbours.

While Coun. Hunter Madsen acknowledged the proposed rebuild “is grossly out of sync with current bylaws,” he said Alderside presents unique challenges because most of the existing homes don’t conform to the area’s RS3 zoning, which was adopted in 2015 and then updated in ’18.

Madsen, who proposed the monster home task force last summer in response to growing concerns about outsized homes in several Port Moody neighbourhoods, pointed out most of the waterfront homes on Alderside would already be considered overly large. But because many of the Alderside homes are built down an enbankment to the shores of Burrard Inlet, most present as only one or two storeys to passersby at street level.

He also said the city’s zoning should respect that character of the neighbourhood.

“The city should come back with reformulated guidelines that better reflect the usual property size and cheek-by-jowl living there.”

Coun. Meghan Lahti, who suggested the monster home task force take a closer look at Alderside, said some of the city’s regulations for waterfront property, including a requirement that basements be raised by an additional two feet to account for potential rising waters brought on by climate change, has put homeowners there who want to renovate or rebuild in a bind.

“It causes more difficulty,” she said.

The task force is expected to present its recommendations to council sometime this spring.

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