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Proposed seniors complex in Port Moody would be like 'living on a cruise ship’. But at what cost?

Some councillors are concerned about the potential project's impact on the surrounding neighbourhood
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A lounge at The Vista retirement residence in Esquimalt. The company that is behind that project, Avenir Senior Living, is proposing a similar 188-unit building in Port Moody.

A seniors housing complex offering deluxe accommodations will fill a need in Port Moody.

But some city councillors are worried a proposed 14-storey tower near the Kyle Centre could set a bad precedent in a neighbourhood that is comprised mostly of single-family homes.

On Tuesday, they finally got their first look at the project by Vancouver Island-based Avenir Senior Living, in partnership with local developer Dulex Laidler Group.

In a pre-application presentation that had been previously scheduled for earlier in the spring but was bumped from the agenda, Avenir principal Jason Craik said the facility would have 188 homes:

  • 100 of them are full-service independent and assisted-living units
  • 42 units are for residents requiring complex care
  • 46 units on the upper five floors are privately owned condos

There would also be an indoor/outdoor amenity space on the building’s fifth floor.

Craik said the lifestyle being offered residents would be “like living on a cruise ship.”

He said full-service rental units would likely cost $5,000 a month, including all meals, snacks, activities and services like cleaning and utilities.

The inclusion of complex care units would allow residents to stay in the building should their needs increase.

“This is a continuum of care,” Craik told councillors. “It allows people to come in independently and then age in place.”

Craik said most prospective residents would be downsizing from single-family homes, so they’d have the means to live at the complex.

“We want something special for seniors,” Craik said. “We want to change their lives.”

Coun. Steve Milani said the proposal “looks pretty swanky,” but Coun. Meghan Lahti countered there is a market for luxury seniors housing.

“People want to downsize and need a place to go.”

Craik said serving the upper end of the market helps take pressure off public and subsidized facilities.

But Coun. Hunter Madsen worried the construction of a 14-storey tower atop a five- or six-storey podium at the corner of Mary and St. George streets could have a domino effect on surrounding property values if developers take it as a signal for densification.

“We really need to figure out what we want that neighbourhood to become,” he said, adding if the complex gets approved it could be “a turning point.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth said the proposed project’s benefits have to be weighed against its impacts to the neighbourhood, especially traffic.

But Lahti said seniors housing is not like approving a condo tower.

“This is a different type of density.”

Craik said the neighbourhood’s proximity to amenities like the Kyle Centre and quiet side-streets close to the commercial strip along St. Johns Street makes it a perfect location for seniors housing. He added the project would also provide about 80 jobs — 50 of them full-time.

To go ahead, the proposal will require rezoning, as well as an amendment to Port Moody’s official community plan.

Craik said if those are ultimately achieved, he anticipates the first residents could move in sometime in 2027.

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