Coquitlam adds some seniors housing and makes room for a little more

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Following a six-hour public hearing, council unanimously approved two seniors projects in the wee small hours of the July 25 meeting.

Coquitlam council carved out a spot for non-market seniors housing on Cartier Avenue and – a few minutes later and a 1.5 kilometre north – approved 155 units of seniors housing on Austin Avenue.

1200 Cartier Avenue

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Coquitlam council approved a proposal to create a new parcel at 1200 Cartier Avenue with the intention of leasing the land to a non-profit organization for a nominal fee. The non-profit would then oversee the project from design to construction to operation.

However, some neighbours were uneasy about the change.

“Low-income rentals raise concerns for theft, criminals, drug addicts and violence,” wrote neighbour Oriana Girardi in a letter to council.

Mayor Richard Stewart addressed the comments during the meeting.

“We were all offended,” he said.

While residents are welcome to debate land-use decisions, Stewart asked future speakers to please not begin with the presumption that “renters are bad.”

“That’s 40 percent of our community and they’re not criminals,” he said.

A city staff report noted both the rising number of Coquitlam seniors in Coquitlam as well as the limited affordable housing options. Stewart emphasized the need for more housing.

“We heard from a few people that live in multi-family residential buildings that don’t want one built next to them,” he said. “If you have housing that doesn’t mean we can stop now.”

Coun. Steve Kim agreed, noting that seniors housing is especially important amid the rise of social isolation.

The site

The zoning change involves carving a new, 18,179 square foot parcel on the east side of the 61,785 square foot site.

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Surrounded by townhouses, apartments and a church, the city-owned site is now zoned for a three-storey medium density apartment.

1015 Austin Avenue

The 20-storey, 167-unit tower at 1015 Austin Avenue is set to include 155 seniors’ independent living market rental units. The project would replace a two-storey office building.

The mixed-use project is slated to include three units of ground level commercial space as well as 12-below market rentals.

The developer, PARC Communities Management Ltd., is on the hook for approximately $5.67 million, including a $3.5 million density bonus, according to the city’s preliminary estimate.

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Breakdown of the 155 seniors’ units

  • Studio units: 1
  • One-bedroom units: 111 (including 30 with den)
  • Two bedroom units: 43

Below-market rental units

  • One-bedroom units: 11 (including five with a den)
  • Two bedroom units: 1

Parking spots: 102

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