A consortium of developers and property owners is proposing more affordable housing units, more jobs and more green space for its master-planned project in near the Moody Centre Skytrain station.
But several city council members say it’s still not enough — and too much at the same time.
In an update on the project’s progress to council’s committee of the whole Tuesday, Curtis Neeser, the vice-president of residential development for Beedie Living, said the group — which includes TransLink, Anthem properties, PCI Group, Woodbridge Homes and several smaller property owners — is committed to keeping more than 10% of the project’s housing component affordable. He said that could be achieved through a combination of partnerships with non-profit organizations for below-market rental units as well as rent-to-own programs.
Neeser also said preliminary discussions with Simon Fraser University and Capilano University have shown promise that a higher education and tech hub could be created that will help make more than half of the project’s anticipated 1,400 jobs well-paying.
As well, Ryan Bragg of the architectural firm Perkins + Will, said the creation of several pocket parks along Spring Street and an ambitious plan to daylight Slaughterhouse/Dallas creek all the way to where it meets Rocky Point Park would ensure plenty of green space for residents, workers and visitors in the neighbourhood.
He said the daylighted creek that bisects the development would “ecologically repair this place” and provide an opportunity for an educational institute to incorporate the rehabilitation into its mandate.
Neeser added the approximately $25 million the city would realize from development cost charges to the project would also allow Port Moody to acquire parkland elsewhere in the city.
“We do understand park space is important,” he said.
Coun. Diana Dilworth said at Tuesday's meeting she's encouraged by the improvements the consortium has made to its proposal based upon receiving feedback from council last October as well as a series of workshops it held with various stakeholders in September and some public open houses. She said the project’s affordable housing component could probably be further improved with involvement from various levels of government, including the city.
“This is a great starting point,” she said.
But Mayor Rob Vagramov said the plan to build about 3,800 homes in a series of towers ranging of 26 storeys or smaller along St. Johns Street to up to 35 storeys next to the SkyTrain station “goes above and beyond in a scale of density people couldn’t imagine.”
He said the influx of thousands of new residents to the neighbourhood would overwhelm Rocky Point Park, which would be connected by a new pedestrian overpass as part of the project.
Coun. Hunter Madsen suggested the consortium hadn’t done enough to ease concerns about the project’s impact on city traffic.
“A lot of residents will still be taking cars,” Madsen said.
But Thea Wilson, a transportation planner working with the group, said improved pedestrian and cycling amenities in the neighbourhood would encourage more active transportation, as well as transit use at the adjacent SkyTrain station. She said the developers would also look to reduce the number of parking spaces they’re required to provide to discourage car use and signals along St. Johns Street could be better timed to improve traffic flow through the area.
Vagramov said he also wants to see more of a focus on creating “high-value employment” in the project.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an employment engine,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re just moving people in for the sake of moving people in.”
Bragg said attracting those tech and education employers requires “a robust community,” adding, “I think we can be successful in creating that space.”
Dilworth said she’s confident with more work by all sides, that can happen.
“I understand there’s a lot of pressure to nail everything down now,” she said, then later pointed out council had previously approved the development of Westport Village on the former Andrés Wine site that’s even more dense than the proposal for Moody Centre, creates fewer jobs and is much farther from rapid transit.
A resolution introduced by Vagramov to give the consortium further direction to address council’s concerns about the project was left hanging when the meeting abruptly adjourned at 10 p.m. as a motion to extend the time was defeated.
Wednesday, Vagramov said the meeting will reconvene at 5 p.m. Saturday.
A spokesperson for the consortium said the group would be getting together to discuss its next steps. The group will go ahead with a pair of public open houses scheduled for Jan. 28,, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Old Mill Boathouse, adn Feb. 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the gym at Moody elementary school. For more information, go to www.moodycentretod.ca.
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1/23: Added new information about public open houses.