But is it one project or two? Port Coquitlam council debates 44-unit townhouse project(s) with ‘a hole in the middle’

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They knew why they were supporting it, but Port Coquitlam council couldn’t quite agree on exactly what they were supporting Tuesday.

Council was generally in favour of the project, which includes 44 townhouse units arrayed over seven lots on Rindall Avenue and one lot on Tyner Street, just east of Mary Hill Road. However, the project would essentially be split in two because of one Rindall Avenue homeowner who opted not to sell to the developer, Woodbridge Homes.

Buying the lot was “unachievable,” explained the company’s vice-president of construction Kevin Urbas.


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“We even tried to find them a new house and a new lot that was comparable. . . . We weren’t able to come to an agreement on anything,” Urbas told council on Tuesday.

While Woodbridge Homes contended that the holdout lot could eventually be incorporated into the development, Coun. Dean Washington had his doubts about approving what he called “a development with a hole in the middle of it.”

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“To me, in my mind, this is two separate projects,” Washington said. “I would love to see them split.”

City staff recommended treating the development as one project on two sites. While there would be two stratas and two development permits, the density bonus would calculated for a single project and reduced by about $59,818 – something that raised a key question for Coun. Darrell Penner.

“What it really comes down to is that $59,000. Does the developer keep it or does it come into the community?” Penner asked.

The city is slated to charge Woodbridge Homes $59,818 for each extra unit on the site. That figure is based on a real estate appraiser’s per unit land lift estimate.

If the development was treated as two separate projects, the city would charge the developer for 11 extra units. However, when treated as a single development, Woodbridge Homes would be on the hook for the price of 10 extra units.

It would be unfair to the city to treat the development as one project, according to Coun. Steve Darling.

“It’s not the city’s problem that these people don’t want to sell,” Darling said. “I don’t think we should be eating almost $60,000 just because a homeowner didn’t want to sell.”

Treating the project as two developments would be out of step with council’s common sense approach, countered Mayor Brad West.

“I see this as a single application,” he said, noting the development would be built at the same time by same builder and eventually marketed as one project.

Treating the development as two applications would result in a “huge amount of duplication,” West added.

The developer was “extremely bothered” by the city’s density calculation, contending they should be charged for nine extra units. The issue was also somewhat contentious inside city hall as even Port Coquitlam’s planning team wasn’t unanimous, according to city staff.

10 buildings

If approved, the project would swap out older single-family houses on the block for 10 three-storey buildings built in two phases.

The townhouses, all of which have three bedrooms, range in size from 1,374 to 1,965 square feet.

Woodbridge is asking for a lot coverage variance. The city generally allows 40 percent lot coverage. However, the two phases of the project would span 42 and 46 percent of their respective lots.

There are 59 trees on the two sites, including city boulevard trees. Twenty of those trees, including a monkey puzzle tree, are slated to be kept. The other 39 trees would be chopped down to make room for the development.

Woodbridge Homes would be required to provide 43 replacement trees.

The application passed 6-1 with Washington opposed. The project requires a further vote from council before proceeding.


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