A five-neighbourhood megaproject passed a major hurdle in the wee hours of Wednesday morning as Port Moody council voted 5-1 in favour of advancing the Woodland Park development.

Located on a 23-acre boomerang-shaped site from 300 Angela Drive (just east of Glenayre Drive) down to 1142 Cecile Drive, the project is set to feature 2,053 units of housing and 19,000 square feet of commercial space.

At the conclusion of the five-hour meeting, the single dissenting vote was cast by Coun. Steve Milani.

The scale of the development is “mind blowing,” Milani said, noting that, once built, the development will boost Port Moody’s population by a greater figure than Newport Village and Suter Brook combined.

Speaking to council, applicant Peter Edgar asked to reduce the requested $10.3 million community amenity contribution to $6.75 million.

Milani rejected the notion that Port Moody should “eat” $3.55 million.

Port Moody is in no position to offer a discount, Milani emphasized.

Given the 13 acres of green space provided, the applicant is paying “more than their fair share,” countered Coun. Diana Dilworth.

“Woodland is ripe for evolution,” she said. “I don’t see traffic concerns as a dealbreaker.”

Dealbreaker

While he voted to give the project third reading, Mayor Rob Vagramov took the opposite stance, arguing that without a fundamental change in the area, such as a SkyTrain station, he couldn’t ultimately support the project.

Vagramov later asked staff to report to council about securing a SkyTrain station.

Despite his concern that the development proposals in Port Moody’s pipeline could result in the municipality overshooting its goal of 50,000 Port Moody residents by 2041, Coun. Hunter Madsen supported the development.

It would be a mistake to concentrate too much housing density downtown, Madsen said, suggesting room needed to be saved for economic revitalizations.

But while Madsen praised the graceful architecture and access to a grocery store and childcare, he voiced concern about the project’s 19-storey tower and the accompanying increase in traffic. 

“Basically we’re just re-routing our congestion,” Madsen said.

The affordable rentals could help keep cash-strapped seniors and essential workers in Port Moody, according to Coun. Amy Lubik. While she expressed concern that it wasn’t closer to transit, Lubik touted the project’s green space and the preservation of trees.

Coun. Zoe Royer agreed, calling the development “quite wonderful” and suggesting her vote for the project was a way to support the collective good.

Big idea, long meeting: During a meeting that stretched past midnight, council heard from 40 speakers about the implications of the project, ranging from a possible boon to the arts to a likely burden on traffic.

Breakdown:

  • Childcare spaces: 93
  • Strata units: 1,596
  • 132 market rental
  • Below market rental: 325
  • Height: Six to 19 storeys

Public view

In a city full of “Wonder Bread architecture,” Woodland Park is perhaps the best development Port Moody has ever seen, according to Paul Mitchell-Banks, who spoke at the meeting, praising the abundance of green space as well as the infusion of $140-million from B.C. Housing.

That money may not be on the table for long, Mitchell-Banks emphasized.

“B.C. Housing will walk,” he promised. “If we aren’t fast enough they’ll move somewhere else.”

For Sharon Carr, a resident of a neighbouring strata, the development represents a chance to sell get “fair market value” for a 1960s-era home.

An overarching, thoughtful development is preferable to a “mishmash of new builds,” Carr said.

One more vote, tentatively set for October, is required for final approval. Coun. Meghan Lahti recused herself from the meeting due to a possible impact on her property.