It’s an unnecessary delay or a crucial postponement, depending on your perspective.

Despite a staff recommendation to move the 2,665-unit Coronation Park plan to public hearing, Port Moody council ultimately voted to postpone the project Tuesday – a decision that prompted two councillors to apologize to the applicant.

Spanning nearly 15 acres and 59 properties (including one holdout), the project is set to include six towers, a drug store, a grocery store, office space, commercial retail and two daycares totalling about 9,500 square feet.

Following a lukewarm reception from council in January, Wesgroup development company opted to expand the commercial space from 10,355 to 105,275 square feet, and to reduce building heights from 37-40 storeys down to 26-31 storeys while also significantly reducing overall floor space.

But over in Coquitlam . . .

While the project is “greatly improved,” Port Moody is forced to take a different perspective given that Coquitlam recently advanced a 2,500-unit proposal just over the municipal border, according to Coun. Hunter Madsen.

“I wasn’t quite prepared to hear that Coquitlam also was going to appropriate – if you will – our [Inlet Centre SkyTrain] station as a pretext for packing 5,000 new residents of their own right along our border,” he said.

Mayor Rob Vagramov agreed, suggesting the proposal before Coquitlam council amounted to a “paradigm shift.”

“Coquitlam has made a huge move since we last saw this,” he said. “In many ways they’re pushing us – as the smaller municipality here – in a certain direction.”

Given the potential strain on municipal infrastructure, Madsen moved for cumulative traffic assessment, a meeting with B.C. Housing to enable more affordable housing, and an outline of civic-servicing requirements be undertaken prior to the project heading to a public hearing.

Amendments, not approval

The matter before council concerned amendments to the city’s official community plan. While those amendments could pave the way for the development getting approved, Tuesday’s meeting was strictly about moving the matter to a public hearing, Coun. Meghan Lahti emphasized.

“I don’t disagree with any of these things but I don’t think they have to be done now,” Lahti said, charging that a postponement would do a “huge disservice” to residents who have been waiting years.

“These are delay tactics,” Lahti said. “We need to get this to public hearing so that Wesgroup doesn’t walk away.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth concurred, accusing some of her colleagues of altering their standards for the project.

“I’m so disappointed in my fellow members of council tonight,” she said.

Blindsided again

Council’s decision might cause months of delay or possibly even scuttle the project entirely, according to Wesgroup director of development Brad Jones.

“We’re flabbergasted,” he said. “Each time we’re effectively blindsided by you. . . . The goalposts move constantly and they move drastically.”

Jones emphasized that Wesgroup does not own the site and only has a limited time to move forward.

“We’re having a hard time seeing how that’s possible with this council,” he said.

Lahti apologized to Jones. “I’m also sorry. This is embarrassing,” Dilworth added.

Next steps

Prior to proceeding, city staff is set to undertake a cumulative traffic impact assessment and a meeting with B.C. Housing. Wesgroup must ensure the project meets Port Moody’s jobs-to-population ratio. Currently, the project is set to support approximately 840 jobs including home-based businesses and to house approximately 5,900 residents.