A big development took a small step forward.
A nine-tower, $956-million development has been proposed for the area just north of Barnet Highway bordering Port Moody’s long-gestating Coronation Park project.
The approximately 2,835-unit project, which got first reading from Coquitlam council Jan. 16, would be built on an 11.29 acre-site formerly occupied by Coronation Park Elementary and surrounded primarily by single-family homes.
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The development is slated to include about 210 units of below-market rental housing. However, if it’s possible, the city should push for more, according to Coun. Robert Mazzarolo.
The rent in a below-market unit is usually 25 percent below the monthly rate in a comparable unit. However, Mazzarolo noted that rental rates have increased by roughly the same amount in the last seven years.
“A below-market rental today puts you right back at what 2016 was,” he said, noting that 2016 wasn’t renowned as an age of affordability.
The developer, Polygon Coronation Homes, is permitted to include as many as 850 studio units – 30 percent of the total. A minimum of 283 units – or 10 percent – must have three or more bedrooms.
Mazzarolo underscored his preference for fewer studios and more family-sized units. However, Mayor Richard Stewart defended studio units as “entry points” for renters moving into a very expensive market.
Stewart explained that any policy change should be revisited “outside of the context of a specific application,” in which the applicant has already met the city’s current policy.
It’s important the city offers “predictability” for developers, the mayor said.
“One of the criticisms of, for example, Wesgroup’s site next door, was that the goalposts kept changing. We try not to do that,” Stewart said.
The site next door
Consisting of six towers ranging from 26 to 31 storeys, Port Moody’s Coronation Park project has been described both as necessary housing for a new generation and the most unfortunate urban planning mistake in the city’s history.
Port Moody council voted to amend the city’s official community plan in the spring of 2022 – potentially clearing the way for the development. Wesgroup development company subsequently submitted a rezoning application to build 2,587 homes east of Ioco Road, west of Balmoral Drive, and north of Barnet Highway.
That development includes pedestrian paths that would also offer residents on the Coquitlam side of the municipal border easy access to Inlet SkyTrain. If the Wesgroup project isn’t approved, residents would have to loop around Port Moody’s sidewalks to get to the station, explained Coquitlam’s director of development services Andrew Merrill.
Coquitlam’s project is slated to include 785 purpose-built rental units in three towers, as well as 2,050 condos in six buildings. All told, the development is slated to house 5,500 residents.
The development also includes a stand-alone building set to include commercial space.
Towers on the site could range from 24 to 51 storeys. Coquitlam approved a different nine-tower development in 2022.
With the development expected to accommodate 583 children, the city requires a total of 152 child care spaces.
Polygon is proposing two child care facilities totalling 79 child care spaces. Additionally, the developer would pay the city approximately $590,000 to address the outstanding 73 spots.
Mazzarolo seemed somewhat uncomfortable with the arrangement.
“The money we get in return for the space is not equivalent,” he said. “Child care spaces in these development means more than if we take the money from the developer – which I’m thankful for – and then build the child care somewhere else.”
Trees to fall, park to sprout
At least 346 trees are slated to be chopped to make room for the project. Another 39 trees on adjacent properties may impacted, according to a city staff report.
A one-acre park is set to be built on the northwest corner of the site by Guildford and Balmoral.
Once finished, the development is expected to generation between 30 and 50 jobs in retail and child care.
Cash on the table
Through sources including development cost charges, a density bonus, and the sale of 2545 Palmer Avenue, the project is estimated to put approximately $155 million into the city’s coffers.
The project is set to include 3,390 underground parking stalls. The developer is also slated to pay $3.1 million to help manage transportation demand.
A 20-foot tall sculpture titled The Three Watchmen by Haida artist Chief James Hart is set to “mark the heart of the neighbourhood,” according to a city staff report.