The City of Port Coquitlam unanimously approved a development permit for a 35-unit, four-storey apartment building on Hawthorne Avenue.
The nearly 18,000 square foot site currently comprises four parcels between 2275 and 2267 Hawthorne Ave. and is surrounded by other apartment buildings and older houses.
Designs submitted to the city are generally consistent with the Official Community Plan, according to staff’s recommendation to council on April 25.
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Suites vary in size from 506 to 1,162 sq. ft,, and the building will contain six studios, three one-bedrooms, 22 two-bedrooms, and two three-bedroom apartments.
The development was granted added density for nearly $200,000 in contributions, split between the city’s special needs housing reserve fund and the community amenity reserve.
Only four visitor parking stalls are included in the project, but the city is also receiving $160,000 to making up for the shortfall, which will be transferred into the city’s parking reserve.
Several minor variances have been requested by the Otivo Developments Ltd., relating lot coverage, structure setbacks, and the size of common outdoor amenity space.
The design is 8.7 percent above the maximum lot coverage allowed under the current zoning, and 147 sq. ft. below the required outdoor amenity space for instance.
Alternative amenities such as an outdoor storage area with bicycle and dog wash stations, storage racking for large items such as paddle boards or kayaks and lockers have been proposed in lieu of the space.
Coun. Glenn Pollock said he appreciated the added storage space, as he regularly hears complaints from people who are downsizing.
“I hope that becomes the norm because that’s the one thing I hear from people over and over again,” Pollock said.
Other outdoor amenities include outdoor seating, barbecue, raised garden beds, a playhouse play structure, and a vehicle wash station.
Shared indoor features include a lounge/party room with a kitchen, a billiard table and a separate workhub/boardroom.
Staff note the design is modern but incorporates a generous amount of brick to give the structure a heritage feel, which is recommended in the zoning guidelines.
The site is located on the edge of the floodplain, and the first floor will be elevated above the flood construction level.
Another positive was noted by staff is that the proposal meets the city’s energy efficiency requirements.
A number of off-site upgrades are required to allow development, including improvements to curbs and sidewalks, gutters and storm sewers, and street lanes and lighting, according to the staff report.
Tree chopping concerns
Concerns raised by residents during the public consultation period relate to a lack of park space in the area and the chopping down of trees on the site.
Staff note that the site is currently home to 20 trees, including fruit trees, ornamental trees and some larger trees such as a willow, western redcedar and Douglas Fir.
The city requested assessments to possibly save two larger trees (a willow and redcedar) on the property, but an arborist report found they are in poor condition.
The developer added that saving them would be challenging due to the parking requirements on site, and proposed planting 25 new trees on site.
“Trying to retain a tree for the long term, with proper root space, would be a huge concession … it would be quite a penalty for the project.”
Coun. Steve Darling raised some concerns regarding the removal of so many trees.
“Even if we can save one tree, it’s worth it,” Darling said. “We’re getting to a point now where there’s a lot of these lots that are coming forward that are tree filled. I want to stress that it’s important to try and find ways to even retain one, two, three (trees) … We need to do better work than that.”
The City of Port Coquitlam’s tree-canopy coverage sits at around 23 percent, and has a target of 30 percent, according to staff. The average canopy coverage in Metro Vancouver’s urban containment boundary is 32 percent.
Staff note that a variety of other shrubbery is being proposed to create some interface between the development and adjacent properties.
The city will be looking at a more aggressive program and are looking at park areas to intensify tree-planting, according to staff.