Port Coquitlam townhouse development has ‘big hill to climb,’ says mayor
Residents of a central Port Coquitlam neighbourhood will have to wait to provide input on a proposed 20-unit stacked townhouse development in a residential area.
CityState Consulting Group is requesting an amendment to the Official Community Plan. Their application to start the public consultation process was mulled by city council on May 2.
Mayor Brad West said he’s already had at least four conversations with residents who voiced staunch opposition to the project.
“Freaking out would be the right way to describe it,” West said, adding he believes there is “a fairly big hill to climb” for the developer.
The city has received numerous inquiries, questions and concerns related to the development proposal for 3149 Raleigh St., according to staff.
Despite staff recommending public consultation to begin, council voted to bring the developer in to have discussions before allowing public feedback.
The proposed OCP amendment would change the land-use designation to allow more density, and the current proposal envisions three buildings on a large single lot.
A site-specific zoning change would also be required.
Current plans pitch a unit mix of 16 two-bedoom units, two single-bedroom units, two three-bedroom units, two non-market rental units run by a registered non-profit, along with space for a separate home-based daycare facility in one unit.
Council was not entirely sold on the development in its current form, and split on whether public consultations should begin.
While several councillors said they liked the stacked townhouse form, the location was called into question.
The site is surrounded by a mix of old and new single family homes, duplexes, and one older townhouse development to the northeast.
West said the amount of density being proposed is a “significant jump” from what current OCP envisions, noting it’s not a neighbourhood in transition.
Coun. Nancy McCurrach was outright against the development.
She raised concerns regarding 50 trees out of 71 on the property that would need to be cut down, and the lack of setback from Maple Creek, which is a salmon-bearing stream.
“I don’t mean to sound blunt, but out of the gate, I’m refusing,” McCurrach said. “I just find that that’s just too much going on in a small area.”
Coun. Steve Darling said he found the development “challenging” for the area. He also disapproved of the small unit sizes and lack of three-bedroom units.
“I don’t know why we would go taking this to the community,” Darling said. “The way it is right now, I would never vote in favor of this.”
The one councillor in favour of the proposal was Coun. Glenn Pollock, chair of the housing committee.
He cited the city’s need for more housing, and said property was only around a 30-minute walk from the SkyTrain station.
“This is a really nice use of a large lot, putting 20 homes that we desperately need on it,” Pollock said. “We’ve got our neighbors in Coquitlam doing towers, and we’re doing this more general form of density.”
Council discussion focused on whether asking for public feedback on the development in its current form was appropriate, considering the amount of issues council identified.
Darling said he was concerned that a public engagement process at this time would make residents think they had endorsed the project.
Couns. Darrell Penner and Paige Petriw, however said they would be interested in what residents have to say about the project.
West admitted the current feedback the city has received only represents a small percentage of residents in the neighbourhood.
He suggested the developer meet with council to hear their input and concerns first.
“I don’t like wasting people’s time,” West said. “If a majority of council believes that this application in its current form ain’t gonna fly, or they don’t support it, then there are other options.”
Coun. Dean Washington suggested council should provide early input on development projects more frequently.
Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch