The meeting was contentious but the vote was not close Monday evening as Coquitlam council approved 123 condominiums arrayed in two mid-rise woodframe buildings at 209 Lebleu Street.

Several speakers assailed the decision to replace the site’s 16 strata townhouses with condos.

“It just causes the property values of the entire neighbourhood to go up . . . destroying affordable housing in our city,” said Vaani Nadhan.

Nadhan, who introduced herself as a mother of three, said she wasn’t opposed to development, but she was against high-end condos that could play a part in: “pushing out working families just like ours who have nowhere else to go in Coquitlam because of the atrocious housing prices.”

The project garnered support from neighbour Nora Naijar, who suggested Maillardville “needs a facelift.”

“It makes me happy to see that my neighbourhood is blooming,” Naijar said.

Responding to displacement concerns from the public, Mayor Richard Stewart explained that, following the sale of the Lebleu strata, the new owners opted to temporarily rent out the townhouses.

Some of the more blistering criticism came from Murray Martin of Burnaby ACORN, a group that advocates for initiatives like supportive housing and rent relief.

The development will swap out townhouses with decades of livability in favour of luxury housing likely used as “investment vehicles,” Martin said.

“The city is basically giving away . . . this upzoning. There’s no provision here to build any affordable housing.”

Stewart was readying to respond to what he said were inaccurate statements (he later explained that 1980s-era woodframe buildings don’t always age well) when Martin interrupted.

“You’re supposed to be listening to the public, not us listening to you,” he said.

Following the hearing, council voted 8-1 to approve the development with Coun. Bonita Zarrillo opposed.

While she expressed some ambivalence about her vote, Zarrillo ultimately said she was concerned the development would send a signal to the development that Maillardville is open for business and essentially “open the floodgates.”

“I’m not sure I’m ready to start displacing and gentrifying this neighbourhood,” Zarrillo said.

The whole region needs more affordable housing, Coun. Teri Towner acknowledged, noting the city has been incentivizing more rental for several years.

“Not every project is going to have social housing or subsidized housing,” Towner said, suggesting the neighbourhood has a good mix.

The breakdown:

  • Applicant: Porte Homes
  • Buildings: 2 (separated by a courtyard)
  • Height: 7 and 5 storeys
  • Floor area ratio: 2.25 (FAR measures a project’s total floor space against its lot size)
  • One-bedroom units: 67
  • Two-bedroom units: 44
  • Three-bedroom units: 12
  • Parking spots: 177

The project is expected to generate approximately $1,623,000 for the city through development cost charges and a community amenity contribution.

The development requires one final vote before construction can begin.