Concept drawings one of the proposed townhomes located on St. George Street. Image supplied Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A British Columbia development proposal for a 12-unit townhouse project got some early support from Port Moody council on Tuesday.

The proposal is at the preliminary stage, and the applicant, Laidler Group, was seeking feedback on its designs for the 2600 block of St. George Street.

“I have to say this is the right form of housing, it’s the right location with proximity to school and transit, and it does fit the character and evolution of what is happening along St. George and along St. Andrews,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth. 

“Our housing needs assessment reports clearly state that this is what is desired and needed in Port Moody.”

The design calls for a pair of three-storey buildings across approximately 0.4 acres.

The development would require an Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment, as zoning currently only allows single-family homes with options for secondary suites.

The property is surrounded by single-family homes, with the exception of a three-storey mixed use building farther north on St. Andrews Street.

All the units proposed would be two-bedroom suites, ranging from 1,300 to just over 1,600 square feet.

Staff remarked that the density is in the range of similar townhouse projects in the city, and recommended some units be converted to three or four-bedroom units.

“Typically with townhouses I think we want to see more larger family-friendly units,” staff said.

Twenty parking spaces are proposed (18 residential and two visitor spaces), 12 of which would be in tandem formation.

The city only allows 50 percent of parking stalls to be in tandem style, and staff noted that a parking variance would also be required.

The project also includes 24 bike spaces, and a children’s playground.

Staff said the development would require contributions for road and servicing upgrades to the area.

These include updates to street lighting, upgrading sanitary lines, replacing storm lines, a potential replacement to the water main, and reconstruction of adjacent roads, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and catch basins.

Finally, staff requested the applicant consider retaining the mature Douglas fir tree on the property, and said they would require an arborist report.

Council’s feedback

Coun. Haven Lurbiecki said that she was generally supportive of townhomes, as they are a much-needed form of housing in the city.

However, she said she finds it hard to comment on whether or not this project is appropriate in the context of the neighborhood, and it doesn’t conform to the current OCP.

Lurbiecki pointed out that council is in the midst of updating the OCP, along with creating a neighborhood plan for the area. 

Staff confirmed that work on the Moody Centre Neighbourhood South is slated to start in 2023, but it has not yet begun.

 “My point here is that we are in the midst of figuring that out,” Lurbiecki said. “Once we start kind of changing our vision in one-off ways in a street or an area. . . . We have impacts on land values on that street, we have impacts on what that neighborhood and community will look like.” 

Coun. Kyla Knowles disagreed with Lurbiecki, and said she thought it was suitable for the neighborhood.

“I really actually appreciate the applicant’s efforts to situate this project,” Knowles said.  “I think this is so close to St. John’s and other buildings of varying heights and building types, that I’m not terribly concerned about the fact that there are single-family homes nearby.”

Knowles encouraged the developer to seek variations to increase some of the units to three-bedroom suites. 

Coun. Diana Dilworth stated she would support a change to the OCP. 

She added that the units are oversized for two-bedroom suites, and that the city has long been advocating for family-friendly housing.

“If that means a variance in parking, that’s certainly something that I would be open to chatting about,” she said.

Dilworth, however, said she dislikes tandem parking. She said that although it’s easier for builders to provide space, often it just ends up being used for extra storage rather than cars.

Coun. Amy Lubik said she appreciates the lot coverage, as many developments have come before council recently with almost no green space.

She encouraged the developer to not chop down the Douglas fir tree on site.

“Looking at being able to retain that is really important,” Lubik said. “It takes a long time for the new trees that get planted to reach the carbon sequestration and heat dispersal levels.”

By Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Tri-Cities Dispatch   Coquitlam, British Columbia

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