Port Moody townhouse project moves forward without recommended density reduction

Concept drawings for the 11-unit townhouse development on the 2800 block of St. George Street. image supplied

A staff recommendation to remove a single unit from a townhouse development on St. George  Street had Port Moody council split.

Compromising amenity space and unit sizes for the sake of an additional suite were the central issues for the rezoning discussions on June 13.

“You weigh the balance of that against someone losing a home and increased unaffordability for those that are going to buy other townhomes,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth. 


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CityState Consulting Group aims to build a family oriented townhouse development on the 2800 block of St. George St., in two three-storey buildings over a 17,300 square foot site.

While there was general support for the townhouse form and unit mix, the land use committee and early input council discussions voiced concern over the density in one of the buildings, recommending the 11-unit project be reduced by one to improve livability of the other suites.

Staff note that while unit sizes vary between two and four-bedroom units, some bedrooms appear to be “very tight.”

While the developer submitted revised plans, staff said that they were unable to increase the size of the building, leaving the unit width below par compared to similar townhouse projects.

The city does not have specific requirements for unit width, and look to prior applications as a guide.

Staff’s recommendation was on the condition of the unit reduction, as well as a public art contribution, and the achievement of Port Moody’s standard for energy efficiency.

Council voted 4-3 to remove the first condition, but were unanimous in their support of the others.

Carolyn Thompson, senior planner at CityState, said the loss of one of the units would make the project financially unviable.

She added if they increased the building’s footprint, wider units could be accommodated.

Though supportive of the housing type, Couns. Amy Lubik, Haven Lurbiecki, and Callan Morrison voted against cutting the unit reduction recommendation.

Lurbiecki and Morrision voiced concern over a lack of standards in city policies. Both councillors voted against moving the rezoning forward.

There have been consistent reductions in unit sizes across certain types, according to Morrision, suggesting they may be setting precedents.

He noted the developer was already asking for concessions regarding tandem parking and lot coverage. 

“There really isn’t a clear number on how many units should go on those two lots,” he said. “What else is giving in order to be able to provide that (extra unit). I don’t think that those things should be compromised.”

Lurbiecki said the city is not looking at any standards when making these decisions, stating it’s a “slippery slope.”

She said the city has passed a motion to examine minimum bedroom sizes, but that report has not yet been received by council. 

“It’s not a race to the bottom,,” Lurbiecki said. “I just kind of feel like we’re a bit blind here in terms of what our standards are that we should be looking towards.”

Dilworth said that the development was addressing a very specific type of family housing missing in the community, consistent with Moody Centre neighbbourhood planning.

She referenced a prior townhouse development where density was traded for amenities, stating the end result was one less home for a family.

“One family lost out on a home,” Dilworth said. “The construction costs were then carried across the existing units that were there – and the development got a concrete picnic table and a fire pit.” 

Lubik said she was “torn,” and asked if the developer would consider reducing the tandem garage space to allow greater unit sizes.

Thompson said they were unwilling to budge, as the units are geared towards families, and many would require space for two vehicles.

Coun. Samantha Agtarap said she was concerned about removing any units.

She successfully introduced a motion to recommend cutting one of two visitor parking stalls in order to increase the footprint of the building.

To the frustration of some on council, Lurbiecki tried to add an amendment that would require a parking mitigation study. It was shot down by a vote of 5-2.

Couns. Kyla Knowles and Dilworth both cited the province’s recent decision to set housing targets in Port Moody.

“If I’m being asked to choose between a parking spot and a home for a family, I’m picking a home for a family every single time,” Dilworth said.

Residents will have a chance to speak on the application during a public hearing prior to council’s vote on final approval.

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