Developers in Coquitlam may soon have to include more parking when building ground-oriented residential projects such as townhouses and row homes.
The city bylaw currently states that 1.5 stalls are required per housing unit but council wants to increase that two stalls per unit.
Parking has been an issue for many residents in higher-density neighbourhoods, particularly on Burke Mountain, where council has received numerous complaints from the public. Staff is hoping that by regulating developers to include more stalls within their projects, fewer cars will be parked on city streets.
For some councillors, an increase to the requirements can’t be approved fast enough.
“The lag time on this, given the number of times council has mentioned it over and over again, is concerning to me,” said Coun. Dennis Marsden, who was told by staff that the new regulations could go before council for a vote as early as April.
But some councillors were wary of the impact expanded parking regulations could have on housing affordability.
Urban Development Institute president and CEO Anne McMullin warned staff in a memo that forcing developers to build two-car garages can add up to $180,000 to the overall cost of a unit. Of that increase, $70,000 is attributed to land costs, while the additional costs are associated with the larger floor plans needed to accommodate the larger garages.
Coun. Terry O’Neill said increasing parking requirements would throw “gasoline on the affordability fire.”
“What is most important is to get [people] into the house in the first place,” he said. “I want to do everything I can to get them into the home.”
Coun. Teri Towner concurred, noting that improving housing affordability has been a priority for council. She said increasing the number of stalls could limit housing choices and promote larger, more expensive homes.
“I don’t want to reverse anything we have done with our Housing Affordability Strategy,” she said, later noting that “adding $180,000 to the price of a townhouse was super eye-opening to me.”
In order to give some flexibility to developers, a majority of councillors said they supported changing how the city counts tandem parking. Currently, the stalls where vehicles park one behind another is counted as one space but that could change to two spaces in the new regulations.
But a majority of council also wants to see a cap on the number of tandem stalls in ground-oriented residential developments and to see the practice ended for secondary suites.
Staff will now take the council feedback and come up with a bylaw that could come back to council as early as the spring. If the new rules are approved they would not impact any development that is currently working its way through the municipal process.