Six-story redevelopment of Port Moody’s tiny A&W deemed stale by land use committee

Concept drawing of the six-story mixed-use building proposed for the 2500 block of St. George Street. image supplied

A developer is looking to replace Port Moody’s tiny A&W with a six-storey mixed-use building, but the land use committee (LUC) did not find the proposal appetizing.

CityState Consulting pitched a nearly 19,000 square foot building on the 2500-block of St. George Street, offering a mix of commercial, office and residential space.

Every member of the LUC deemed the application inappropriate on June 5, criticizing inclusion of another drive-thru, failure to include larger residential units, and a lack of parking spaces.


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“Generally, I’m very supportive of a six story mixed use portable housing for this area. I think that’s exactly what we need here,” said LUC member Amanda Welsh. “But this one totally misses the mark.”

The 7,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor commercial space included another A&W drive-thru, a concept soundly rejected by the LUC and staff alike.

Staff said new drive-thu restaurants are not desired or permitted under current zoning, especially in pedestrian areas like Moody Centre.

Furthermore, a drive-thru would conflict with the walkability, and the queue could spill out onto Mary Street causing traffic issues.

LUC members said a drive-thru promotes car dependence, which conflicts with the climate action plan. “I don’t know why they would include a drive thru in today’s era,” said LUC member Sarah Wellman.

Offices are proposed for the second floor, along with 60 residential units on the top floors, containing a mix of 52 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units.

The developer is offering 25 percent of the residential units as market rentals, and another 25 percent as below-market units – exceeding the city’s affordability requirements.

Staff, however, have issues with the unit mix, as the proposal falls well short of the family friendly policy. City policy requires strata apartments to offer 10 percent of units as three-bedrooms, and 20 percent as two-bedrooms.

While LUC members appreciated the inclusion of affordable housing, they agreed with staff’s assessment of the unit mix.

“Eighty-seven percent are one bedrooms. We can do better than that,” said LUC member Stirling Ward. “Lose the restaurant, and the drive-thru, and put that space towards housing.”

Other complaints were voiced regarding awkward design choices, such as small balconies, corner elevators, and an open atrium that only provides limited light to some of the affordable units.

LUC member Alistair Henry said the proposal was “cramming in too much into a very small parcel of land.”

Some LUC members suggested allowing the developer to build more storeys could help address some of the issues and provide a better unit mix.

LUC chair Coun. Kyla Knowles pointed out that the site was close to the Moody Centre TOD area, and suggest the applicant could be more successful if more storeys were included.

Parking was another big concern for staff and the LUC.

The proposal seeks a 43 percent reduction of parking spaces. Only 63 in total are being proposed: 25 for residents, 28 for employees, and the rest as visitor or shared spaces.

Staff said local businesses in the area already complain about cramped parking.

LUC member Jeff McLellan said the parking reduction was “beyond extreme,” adding residents and employees would just add further strain on the already limited parking supply.

Wellman agreed, adding the area is not immediately adjacent to a SkyTrain station, and Port Moody is not ready to build housing with this much reduced parking yet.

“I would love to reduce our car dependence,” Wellman said. But (residents) will still want to have a car and still need a place to put it.”

Another parking issue relates to only five of the residential spaces supporting electric vehicle charging, whereas zoning require 100 percent, along with 20 percent for commercial spaces.

Ward questioned why the proposal had even come before the LUC if staff were not supportive either.

“It’s just flying in the face of everything,” Ward said. “At least get it closer to give us something to work with.”

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