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Letter: 'Port Moody council’s tactic to deny by delay is a page out their playbook we have seen time and again'

I wasn’t surprised at all by Haven Lurbiecki’s letter to the editor about Wesgroup’s proposal to redevelop part of Coronation Park.
A conceptual rendering of what the proposed redevelopment of Port Moody's Coronation Park neighbourhood might look like from Ioco Road. | Wesgroup

The Editor: 

Re: Letter: Luxury towers won't sold Port Moody's housing woes (Nov. 26, 2021).

I wasn’t surprised at all by Haven Lurbiecki’s letter to the editor about Wesgroup’s proposal to redevelop part of Coronation Park.

But must say I am disappointed with the lack of factual content peppered with a few inflammatory statements in an effort to create the perfect recipe to further misinform residents.

Wesgroup’s application has been in process for almost two years — well before the city’s housing needs report was completed.

Obviously, that doesn’t excuse the applicant from providing any of the identified housing needs, but as Derek McCarthy’s letter to the editor clearly pointed out, for the city council to continually change the rules of the game mid-way through a process is a sure way of never getting to a resolution.

It is very important to note that the application previously included 175 units of affordable housing that the council specifically asked be removed at first reading on Jan. 26, 2021, in an effort to reduce the overall height and density of the proposal. 

I believe that Wesgroup actually added back in affordable housing at the OCP amendment at the request of council — only to be asked to remove it at first reading (not sure you could make this stuff up and, if you did, people wouldn’t believe you).

It should be noted, as I understand it, that this latest iteration of the application does provide over 100 units of market rental housing — all of which qualify for rent-to-own program, which allows renters to put their rent toward a down payment in any Wesgroup condo project. 

This program will not be limited to initial unit owners but will last for the life of the building, potentially helping hundreds of people access home ownership.

I am also wondering why the writer specifically referenced micro-suites when there are none included in this application.

She goes on to ask, “How do six luxury towers, likely to be mostly 1–2 bedrooms, likely close to $1M or more each, meet the needs of families?” 

The fact is that the current land use has 59 single-family homes. The proposed redevelopment includes a mix of housing over 2,560 condo homes.

Based on the average unit mix of projects in the Tri-Cities (i.e., meeting market conditions) about 10 per cent of these units will be three bedrooms. That is 250 homes for families that need three bedrooms. 

This is four times more than what currently occupies the land if this project does not proceed.

Based on the market pricing I have noted, I would expect that the pricing of the homes would likely be between $400,000 and $800,000 each based on average prices in the area. Those are very affordable for many people in Port Moody and also for people looking to move here. In addition, I recall Wesgroup previously noted that a portion of the rental could be directed specifically toward seniors. 

The issue of additional density and its impact on traffic and parks were also brought up. 

From what I saw in the agenda package, very comprehensive traffic studies were prepared by consultants and reviewed by city staff as noted in the staff report and attachments to the application, and park space has almost tripled from the original OCP direction.  

To state that the scale of this proposal is almost as big as Newport, Suter Brook and Klahanie combined is one of the statements made with the biggest stretch with respect to the facts of the proposal I have heard. Perhaps the letter writer could provide the data to support that claim so we can all understand her premise.  This proposal is far from being “rushed."

The city’s OCP was first amended in 2017. This application was first brought to council two years ago; each time it has been discussed with council, a dramatically different direction has been provided, with a constant theme being council asking for more each time.

There was no rush when they started but certain members of council’s tactic to deny by delay is a page out their playbook we have seen time and again. The need to move forward was urgent when the applicant started, after council’s misdirection, it is now desperate.

The assembly of a parcel of land of this scale in close proximity to a transit station is an opportunity the City of Port Moody needs to execute on — not miss out on.

One thing that Ms. Lurbiecki and I do agree on is that we want to see Coronation Park developed into a higher-density vibrant community with diverse housing types that offer a scale of affordability across a spectrum of residents and that is exactly what this application provides — if you remove personal biases.

This is a generational opportunity to revitalize the front door of this community with housing, parks and jobs steps from transit, all of which will be paid for be the developer and provide tax benefits and fees to the city for decades.

Unfortunately, these opportunities and benefits are slipping through the fingers of this council.

I'm not sure what other than them being newer makes the proposed towers “luxury” as none of the specific details have been released or made public yet about the buildings being proposed.

As many people are aware, the BC NDP is working to legislate specifically against obstructionist municipal actions to build more housing on transit. This proposal and how our city council has behaved is a text book example of what has led to them taking the position they are.

- Jeff McLellan, Port Moody