“Tiiim-berrr!” Coquitlam council talks timber construction in Burquitlam, the definition of midrise

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They like what’s on the outside, but there are a few concerns about the inside.

Coquitlam council voted unanimously Monday to give first reading to a proposed 12-storey timber building alongside a seven-storey residential building at Dogwood Street and Lea Avenue. But while council was keen on the carbon sequestration of timber construction, several councillors voiced one concern.

Of the project’s 204 units, five are below-market rentals.


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The project was initially slated to include 23 below-market units. That reduction is frustrating, explained Coun. Matt Djonlic.

Djonlic said he would “strongly advise” the applicant, WG Architecture Inc., to reconsider those below-market units.

“I have a very hard time believing in the financial risks,” Djonlic said.

Couns. Steve Kim, Trish Mandewo, Dennis Marsden and Robert Mazzarolo each echoed that concern.

Located about a 10-minute walk from Burquitlam SkyTrain station, the project would replace two single-family houses, one duplex and a fourplex.

To move forward, council would have to amend Coquitlam’s official community plan to allow for the extra height and site coverage.

The project would cover about 63 percent of the 0.85 acre lot. The city’s OCP allows for a building to cover 55 percent of the lot.

Neighbourhood reaction

Council should refuse to amend the city’s OCP according to several residents who objected to the project for a host of reasons ranging from increased crime to lost views.

“When we bought our property we were told only 6 stories were allowed, so we are concerned that across from us our views could be looking right into a 12 story building,” wrote neighbour Sarah Teigland.

Other residents noted that the mountain views were one of the main reasons they bought property in Coquitlam.

“The developers are being incredibly greedy by wanting to change the zoning that was purposely designed for smaller, quieter communities,” wrote neighbours Aleksandra Korolczuk and Brett Williams. “Moreover, families who moved here didn’t want to live in such a busy area; facilities like schools and community centers are not prepared for such a large number of people to move in at the same time.”

Different view

While a real estate agent may try to sell you a view, you don’t own it, said Coun. Brent Asmundson at Monday’s meeting.

“Nobody owns a view,” he said.

To move forward, council will have to switch the designation of the properties from medium to high-density apartment residential. The proposed change led to a conversation about the definition of midrise apartments.

Given the 30- and 40-storey highrises, that definition may need to be amended, reasoned Marsden.

“The argument could be made that 12 [storeys] is midrise, so that might be the solution going forward is just recognizing that as the definition,” he said.

Many of the houses that would be replaced seem to be in good condition, according to Coun. Craig Hodge, who suggested they could be moved rather than being demolished.

Mayor Richard Stewart said he had no hesitation about the mass timber building being right for the land-use.

Midrise wood-frame buildings, “are options that I think we should be celebrating when they come before us,” he said.

Unit mix

  • Studios: 35
  • One-bedroom: 98 (34 have a den)
  • Two-bedroom: 50 (13 with a den)
  • Three-bedroom: 21 (11 with a den)

Cash on the table

If approved, the applicant would be on the hook to pay the city approximately $11 million for development cost charges and density bonuses, as well as a another $224,400 earmarked for car share memberships and transit cards.

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