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Letter: Coronation Park decision a fiasco with too much council grandstanding

Was this developer treated unfairly?

The Editor:

Re: Letter: Port Moody’s future is at a watershed moment with Coronation Park (April 29, 2022)

On Wesgroup’s Coronation Project proposal, this area was designated to be a transit-oriented neighbourhood nine years ago prior to the Evergreen line, with the nearby Inlet Station becoming a reality.

Land acquisition took place to create over a 14-acre development opportunity enabling the proponent Wesgroup to come before council expressing their wish to invest in our City. Wesgroup is a well-respected, family-run development company who made it abundantly clear from the onset of their willingness to work with council in putting together a proposal that will meet our council’s vision.

Wesgroup worked with staff and council to develop this envisioned proposal that was presented to council. Council then rejected their proposal based on the towers being too high, even though the towers, literally across the street on the Coquitlam side of our eastern border, have already been approved to be much taller.

Wesgroup made it clear that without the tower height the affordable housing component, that had been built into the proposal would have to be sacrificed. Council as a whole insisted that the tower height would have to be reduced regardless of having to give up the affordable housing component and sent Wesgroup away to come back with a revised proposal. Wesgroup once again worked with city staff and council to come back again with the requested revisions proposed that was once again presented to council last week.

After years of Wesgroup working with our staff and council on the Coronation Park proposal all that was required last week was for council to approve an amendment to our OCP necessary for this project to move forward. The proponent understandably made it abundantly clear that council had two choices, either to proceed and gain proposed amenities, child care space, seniors housing, a pedestrian overpass that would link the neighbourhood to the Inlet SkyTrain station, community amenity space, a rental building, retail space including a grocery store as well as 2.53 acres of public park space – or not.

A simple yes or a no from each council member at the time was all that was required.

What we all got was literally hours of grandstanding by certain council members. This fiasco was completely preventable had the chair who had the sole responsibility to hold all council members to the question at hand simply answer either yes or no as to whether or not the OCP amendment should be granted. What actually happened was that Wesgroup was subjected to lengthy rhetoric, inclusive of poorly disguised insults, as part of a maneuver by Coun. Madsen to hamstring Wesgroup with the new one week old inclusionary zoning policy.

The affordable housing component demanded by Coun. Madsen rightfully was pointed out by other council members, as well as by the proponent at the time of their presentation, that all this would be negotiated during the re-zoning process. On the heels of Madsen, Coun. Milani then chimed in with the simplistic low density option of townhouses and carriage home infill. Goodbye to $84 million in amenities for our city. Compare Mr. Stuart’s perceived description of “not just yet more high end condos” to what was actually being proposed by Wesgroup. Furthermore Mr. Stuart’s characterization ignores all of the antics of demands and delays thus incurring additional costs for the developer and ultimately additional costs for future residents moving to our beautiful City of Port Moody.

- Stirling Ward, Port Moody