Coquitlam advances Burquitlam development despite concern over ‘junior’ units

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Coquitlam may need to have a big discussion about small apartments.

Council was generally enthusiastic about a 93-unit, six-storey purpose built rental building proposed for Smith Avenue in the Burquitlam neighbourhood.

However, the developer’s plan to include 34 junior one-bedroom units presented a stumbling block for some councillors at Monday’s meeting. The junior units are slated to be 412 square feet.


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“From what I see, they’re a studio apartment in all but name,” said Coun. Robert Mazzarolo.

The junior units are generally small, one-bedroom units with a sliding wall and are intended to fill the gap in the housing spectrum, according to city staff.

Coun. Craig Hodge seemed unconvinced.

“It really does fill a gap? It’s not just a marketing name for a larger studio?” he asked.

While he supported sending the project to a public hearing, Coun. Dennis Marsden voiced a similar concern.

Marsden asked city staff to provide some information, “that will set my mind at ease that this isn’t just a simple work-around to a regulation that we knowingly put in place.”

With land costs and construction costs each rising, cities will likely see more junior units, according to Mayor Richard Stewart.

“I have no hesitation whatsoever about junior one-bedrooms,” Stewart said. “They’re a dominant housing form in so many cities around the world.”

If the developer, Nonni Properties Inc., has misjudged the market, the junior units will stay empty, Stewart said.

“I suspect none of these units will be empty,” he added.


While he was enthusiastic about purpose-built rental, Coun. Matt Djonlic asked if the project could be tweaked to include some affordable housing.

The project is slated to include three levels of underground parking with 84 parking spaces. Djonlic suggested the number of parking stalls could be reduced: “potentially for some below-market rental housing.”

To help manage transit demand, the developer is proposing $102,300 worth of transit passes for the residents. The project is about a 450-metre walk from Burquitlam SkyTrain.


With about 19 children expected to live in the building, the developer is proposing a $59,000 contribution to the city’s childcare reserve fund.

It might be better to reconfigure some amenity space to include childcare on site, suggested Coun. Brent Asmundson.

“That $59,000, really, what’s that going to do for getting childcare in that area with the land costs [and] building costs?” he asked.


  • One-bedroom units: 64 (34 juniors, 12 one-bedrooms, and 18 one-bedrooms with a den)
  • Two-bedroom units: 19 (six with a den)
  • Three-bedroom units: 10

Spread over three lots on the 600-block of Smith Avenue, the L-shaped building would replace one single-family house on the site.

If approved, the developer would be on the hook for approximately $2.2 million in development cost charges and community amenity contributions. That figure includes $1,900 earmarked for Coquitlam’s transportation demand management monitoring fund.

The project needs to go through a public hearing and two more votes from council before construction can begin.


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