Port Coquitlam is rising to the occasion.
City council unanimously approved a pair of approximately 300-foot tall towers and 556 housing units on six lots at Westwood Street and Woodland Drive in Tuesday’s meeting.
Located about 400 metres from Lincoln SkyTrain station, the location is ““As appropriate as you can get,” said Mayor Brad West.
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“We don’t want to have a sprawling region that takes up agricultural land and turns it into housing. We don’t want to have a region that clearcuts forests and turns it into housing,” he said. “That means that we need to exist within a footprint in Metro Vancouver.”
The vote followed a public hearing which consisted largely of support for the proposal. However, while stipulating that she didn’t want to deprive anyone of a home, one speaker cautioned against chopping down 100 trees and ushering in a “concrete forest.”
Despite some new street trees and a pocket park, the development is expected to result in a net loss of about 60 trees, according to city staff.
While he said he sympathized with the speaker’s comments, Coun. Glenn Pollock emphasized the need for new housing.
“We’re building about 300 units a year and we need to be building 500 as soon as possible,” he said. “Where all of our homes were, a tree once stood. . . . We need the housing so badly that I think it’s a trade we need to make.”
Coun. Laura Dupont also noted the loss of tree canopy.
“In terms of process, it’s late at this point . . . to try to save trees, unfortunately,” Dupont said. “Hopefully there will be more tightening up of the tree bylaw in the future.”
Couns. Darrell Penner and Dean Washington each noted the public support for the project, with Washington referencing the outcry that greeted a previous highrise development.
“The mayor would not get acclaimed in that election,” Washington said.
Washington added that he’s since moved into that tower and found “a sense of community.”
Given the growing population of Metro Vancouver, West noted the need to have housing for both newcomers to the region as well as the many young people who can’t afford a down payment on a single-family home.
“If we want to be a community that includes people from all walks of life and all ages – which is essential to the health of the community – then we have to have those [housing] options for every single demographic within Port Coquitlam,” West said.
The site is currently occupied by four houses, two of which are vacant.
The project also includes a row of three-storey townhouses fronting Woodland Drive.
- Studio/one-bedroom units: 316 (including 98 one-bedroom apartments with dens)
- Two-bedroom units: 196 (including 98 with dens)
- Three-bedroom units: 40
- Townhouses: 4
- Strata ownership apartments: 486
- Non-market rental units: 49
- Market rental units: 21
- Parking spots: 660
- Unit size ranges from 401 square feet for a studio to 1,579 square feet for a townhouse.
Parking and traffic
The project includes a plan to extend Anson Avenue east toward Westwood Drive and to put two new left-turn lanes on Westwood.
A 1,485 square foot park is set to be built near Woodland Drive and the Anson Avenue extension.
A traffic assessment based on the addition of 282 new units and 480 residents estimated the project would put another 102 cars on the road during afternoon rush hour, according to draft by Binnie and Associates.
The project includes a total of 660 parking stalls.
The south section
The southern tower is set to be 30 storeys or 311 feet with 292 apartments and four townhouses fronting Woodland Drive.
Lot coverage: 85 percent
Floor area ratio, which measures a building’s total floor area against its lot size – is set to be 5.65.
The north section
The northern tower is set to be 28 storeys, or approximately 288 feet, with 264 apartments and 7,158 square feet of commercial space fronting Westwood.
Lot coverage: 89 percent
Cash on the table
In total, Mosaic would be on the hook for approximately $14.8 million in exchanged for approximately 296,963 square feet of extra density.
The project is now tentatively slated to include space for childcare facility that could accommodate between 12 and 16 children ranging from newborns to three year old children in the south building. That space is in addition to a childcare facility for approximately 25 to 30 children over the age of three.
Coun. Steve Darling underscored the importance of childcare at a previous meeting.
“We are in desperate need of childcare especially in that particular area,” Darling said.
Tip of the triangle
In addition to this development, Mosaic development company has put forward a plan to develop five sites within the 19-lot, 6.3 acre Westwood-Woodland triangle.
Located near the Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam municipal border, the area accommodate “approximately 1,000 to 1,200 new households at full buildout,” according to a city staff report.