Coquitlam city council unanimously approved a development application put forward by the City of Coquitlam on Feb. 27.
The best use for the city’s one-acre parcel on the south side of Sheffield Avenue is to carve out three lots, allowing for the eventual development of seven single-family homes, explained Curtis Scott, director of Coquitlam’s city lands and real estate department.
There were no speakers at the public hearing and no discussion at the following council meeting. However, Coun. Robert Mazzarolo asked Scott why townhouses wouldn’t be a better fit.
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The single-family houses will create a buffer between Burke Mountain’s older homes and the neighbourhood’s dense urban village, Scott explained. It’s the city’s objective to offer a variety of housing on Burke Mountain, he added.
“There are some around the table here who don’t particularly see the need for continued development of single-family properties where we can offer greater affordability,” noted Mayor Richard Stewart.
Previously zoned for agriculture and resource, the three “remnant lots” at Mitchell Street and Sheffield are now considered: large village single-family residential.
The development is expected to generate approximately $461,000 for the city via community amenity contributions and development cost charges.
The three lots are leftovers from a previous development immediately south that allowed for the creation of two lots slated for medium density apartments and three lots set for townhouses development.
The change spurred a somewhat contentious hearing with several residents arguing that medium density development would overwhelm infrastructure, obstruct views and snarl traffic.
Everyone who lives on Burke Mountain was once a newcomer to the area, Coun. Brent Asmundson said during the meeting.
“I’ve lived there for 32 years, longer than most of the people that spoke up here tonight about not wanting some other people to be up there,” Asmundson said. “I could have said a long time ago, ‘No, none of you guys come up here.’”
In order for the new neighbourhood to live up to expectations, a transit improvement is essential, Coun. Dennis Marsden said.
“People talk about the fact that it was supposed to be transit-oriented,” Marsden said. “To this point, the transit has failed.”
The Burke Mountain plan
Coquitlam’s initial plan for Burke Mountain was a community consisting of about 2,000 units of housing and 120,000 square feet of commercial spread over 39 acres.
A good portion of that growth is earmarked for the Hazel-Coy neighbourhood west of Hyde Creek with Pinecone Burke Provincial Park on the north side.
While not yet approved by council, the area is tentatively set to accommodate about 2,750 residents living in 950 housing units, consisting mainly of townhouses and single-family homes.
The Hazel-Coy development will likely leave the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club looking for a new location, according to club president Les Staff, who addressed council about the issue last fall.
The club, which was founded in Port Coquitlam but settled in Coquitlam, operates on provincial land.
“When the province sells land near you for redevelopment, it doesn’t leave us many choices,” Stewart told Staff.
The city must balance the needs of accommodating Metro Vancouver’s ballooning population by providing more housing while recognizing the importance of the longstanding club, Stewart summarized.
Happening in the neighbourhood
An area of northeast Burke Mountain is set to become home to 159 townhouses spread between 23 three-storey buildings.
Located at 3550 Mcvicar Court, the development consists entirely of two- and three-bedroom townhouses.
Council approved the project in 2022.
To make room for a 350-stall underground parking lot, 153 trees will be removed on site. The developer is proposing 349 replacement trees.
Not so fast
In January 2021, Coquitlam council approved a plan to build a strata development including 13 three-bedroom rowhouse units at 1350 Coast Meridian Road.
However, following ownership changes, the applicant has asked for and been granted back-to-back one-year extensions. The latest extension extends third reading until January 2024.
The development plan calls for the applicant to build Galloway Avenue running east-west across the site and Francis Crescent, running north-south.
Coquitlam has previously been scrutinized over the environmental impact of developing on Burke Mountain. During a Port Coquitlam council meeting in May 2021, the city’s environmental coordinator Scott Walmsley linked Burke Mountain development to increased bear activity.
“The more that’s developed up Burke Mountain, the more bears are displaced,” Walmsley said.
That displacement leads to move bears roving in urban areas like Port Coquitlam, Walmsley concluded.
While running for office in 2022, Stewart stated council was protecting green space while supporting housing and community development.
“While I wish Burke’s foothills hadn’t been designated for development a hundred years ago, our Urban Containment Boundary protects 95 percent of Burke Mountain from development,” he stated.