Despite some concerns from the last household on the block, a 35-storey Oakdale development ultimately got the green light from Coquitlam council on Monday.
Spread over eight lots on at Westley Avenue, Gardena Drive and Kemseley Avenue, the project consists of one 35-storey strata tower and a six-storey rental building.
Located approximately a half-kilometre from Burquitlam SkyTrain station, the project will leave one holdout property alongside the 1.36-acre parcel.
Local news that matters to you
No one covers the Tri-Cities like we do. But we need your help to keep our community journalism sustainable.
The development will be: “10 feet from our rear garden, and it’s going to leave us as the sole, remaining undeveloped home on that block,” explained homeowner Ian Dowdall during Monday’s public hearing.
The property – along with a piece of 650 Gardena Drive which is set to be transferred to the city – could be consolidated with properties to the west for a future, high-density development, according to city staff.
However, Dowdall said the project should include all the homes on the block.
“It feels a little bit like that children’s movie The Neverending Story, where the nothing is getting closer,” he said. “Basically, we have this small piece of reality left and development is closing in on all sides. . . . This is a risk. You could be leaving us isolated.”
The Oakdale neighbourhood is experiencing the impacts of development, acknowledged Mayor Richard Stewart.
While that development can mean financial opportunities for some homeowners, it can also offer challenges for homeowners who aren’t ready to sell, he said. However, in the final assessment, the question before council is about land use, Stewart said, adding that the two building are appropriate for the site.
In the neighbourhood
While the area is generally characterized by single-family houses, there are four developments consisting of a total of 1,837 units are at various stages of consideration in the immediate area.
The projects include a 42-storey strata building that recently received third reading as well as a 38-storey apartment building at the beginning of the development pipeline.
There are also a host of mid-rise development ranging from four to six storeys under consideration.
Getting to three
The project includes 38 three-bedroom units. The city would generally require 45 three-bedroom units for a development of this size, equivalent to 10 percent of the total.
City staff “encouraged the applicant to increase the three-bedroom units,” according to a staff report. However, the applicant stated: “the proposed unit count is based on census data which indicates that the city’s average household size has decreased in the last two census periods.”
Coun. Trish Mandewo said she “took offense” to the applicant’s reasoning.
“We know that the need for three-bedrooms is there,” Mandewo said, discussing the increasing number of Coquitlam residents who need a home office as well as larger families immigrating to the city.
“When we are asking for something it’s because we are on the ground and we hear from residents. We know what’s needed,” she said. “Pretty much, you were saying: staff don’t know what they’re talking about, council don’t know what they’re talking about.”
The issue of three-bedroom units was also raised at first reading.
Whose child care is this?
With about 91 children expected to live in the development, the city will likely need another 24 child-care spaces. The applicant is expected to pay the city $148,000 earmarked for Coquitlam’s child-care reserve fund.
Coquitlam should adopt the McDonald’s formula, according to Mandewo. Once a certain population level is reached, a child care facility should be added, she said.
While the money may be helpful, it’s not the same as a child care facility, said Coun. Brent Asmundson.
“A developer in the last five to six years at least, would know [child care] has been an issue in Coquitlam,” he said, noting this project was submitted in 2021.
- Strata units: 320
- Market rentals: 115
- Below-market units: 17
- Floor area ratio (a measurement of the project’s total floor space against its lot size): 5.5
- Parking spots: 504
Cash on the table
If the project is approved, the developer is slated to pay the city approximately $20 million including density bonus charges, development cost charges, a fee to help with increased transportation demand, and other charges.
The project requires one more formal vote from council before construction can begin.