Allowing for medium density development on Burke Mountain risks overwhelming infrastructure, obstructing views and backing up traffic, according to several residents who spoke to Coquitlam council Monday.
Council ultimately approved a zoning change in the Partington Creek neighbourhood that would allow for:
- Three lots of townhouses
- Two lots of medium density apartments
- Two lots for parks
- One lot for watercourse protection
- Six lots for future rezoning and subdivision
“Maintain the uniformity, standardization and [serenity] of Burke Mountain,” requested resident Manish Kumar in a letter to council. “This is indeed one of the most beautiful areas in Coquitlam and let’s keep it that way and prevent overcrowding.”
Other neighbours expressed similar concerns.
“We have a beautiful unobstructed view that was the determining factor in our purchase. The proposal to change this compact low density residential to town housing development as well as the extension of Brownlee across Mitchell would completely change the neighborhood,” wrote residents Darryl and Marilyn Ableman.
Impacts on street parking, loss of trees and local roads being treated like highways was also a worry for many homeowners in the area.
But while much criticism was reasonable, Mayor Richard Stewart took issue with homeowners who explained their desire to live in an upper-middle class neighbourhood without young apartment dwellers.
“You’ve just described my kids,” Stewart said, explaining that the letter offended him.
Council has “never accepted” an argument based on not wanting to live next to renters, he said, adding the Burke Mountain development would likely appeal to seniors.
Coun. Teri Towner concurred.
“I haven’t heard from anybody that their quality of life has been negatively affected because there’s condo dwellers a few hundred metres from them,” she said.
Addressing complaints about altered plans for Burke Mountain, both Towner and Coun. Brent Asmundson emphasized that plans need to respond to changing needs.
“All our plans are living documents,” Asmundson said, explaining that the area’s population likely won’t reach 50,000 for 30 years.
Asmundson also noted everyone living on Burke Mountain was once a newcomer to the area.
“I’m a resident of Burke Mountain. 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,” he said. “I could have said a long time ago, ‘No, none of you guys come up here.’”
Spread over 37 hectares, the rezoning applies to parcels on Crouch, David and Gislason avenues as well as Mitchell Street and some unaddressed parcels.
Moving forward, council needs to advocate for better transit service on Burke Mountain, according to Coun. Dennis Marsden.
“People talk about the fact that it was supposed to be transit-oriented,” he said. “To this point, the transit has failed.”
Marsden recounted regular messages about unreliable service and cancelled trips.
Given that the City of Coquitlam owns much of the land, it behooves the municipality to address the critical question, according to Marsden.
“How do we deliver a better transit alternative to the folks that are living there now?” Marsden asked.
The zoning change passed unanimously.