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'Nobody owns a view unless you’re on a cliff’: Tall tower for Coquitlam City Centre gets mixed reviews

A 25-storey tower — the tallest a building can go on the east side of Coquitlam’s Pipeline Road — is set to get the green light from city hall next month.

A 25-storey tower — the tallest a building can go on the east side of Coquitlam’s Pipeline Road — is set to get the green light from city hall later this year.

On Monday (June 28), after a public hearing generated mixed reviews, city council unanimously gave second and third bylaw readings for the development planned at 1175 Pipeline Rd. that would see the current three-storey apartment, Rivers Inlet, razed.

Ledingham McAllister wants to rezone the property to build 202 homes in the Kadence, made up of: 

  • 136 market condos
  • 57 purpose-built market rental units
  • nine non-market rental units

The developer is now working with BC Housing for the Crown agency to acquire and run the non-market rental units, according to a Coquitlam city staff report.

As well, Ledingham McAllister wants to add a 1,071 sq. ft. commercial space on the northwest corner of the building that, if constructed, would be steps away from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas and Lincoln SkyTrain stations, Glen elementary, Town Centre Park and the Coquitlam River.

Dan Giordano, the company’s vice-president of development, said its residential projects at other Coquitlam sites are mostly grouped around the Evergreen Line. Among them, Highpoint, a 52-storey tower; Sydney, a 25-storey high-rise; and Precidia, a 29-storey tower — all in Burquitlam.

If the Kadence plan moves ahead, the city would bring in about $4.9 million in density bonuses — including $650,000 for the city’s Affordable Housing Reserve Fund — plus about $2.4 million in development cost charges (DCC) and about $147,000 in voluntary community amenity contributions (CAC).

Giordano said the current tenants in Rivers Inlet would get funding equivalent to one month’s rent to relocate during construction, help with moving costs and the first right of refusal to move into the Kadence. “We want to help ease the burden,” he told council.

Rivers Inlet was built in 1983 and has 35 purpose-built rental units; Ledingham McAllister plans to nearly double that number.

But of those 35 units, 10 are now empty as the developer waits for the city to process its bid — a topic that drew lengthy discussion with council, given the housing crunch and affordability in the Lower Mainland.

Opponents also voiced concern, in email or via the Zoom meeting on June 28, about loss of view for surrounding neighbours, potential property devaluations, construction noise and future traffic.

PAY ATTENTION, COUNCIL ASKS

There were other complaints, too, about the city’s lack of notification about the proposed high-rise.

A sign on the property was erected in February and 1,274 letters were mailed to homeowners, businesses and rental tenants in the area about the rezoning, city clerk Jay Gilbert said, adding Coquitlam residents can sign up for city alerts via coquitlam.ca.

Andrew Merrill, the city’s director of development services, said City Centre residents were also regularly notified during the update of the City Centre Area Plan, which council adopted last year to include 24,000 more residents in the neighbourhood over the next 25 years.

“In my experience on council, over the last seven or eight years, we can send all kinds of letters to houses, postcards to houses. We can put up signs. We can do all kinds of things and we still miss people,” Coun. Chris Wilson lamented. “I really honestly think that if people are concerned about development in the community, we need you to pay attention…. Be part of crafting a vision for what you want in the city.”

Mayor Richard Stewart also suggested that strata councils name a point person to be on the look-out for proposed developments in their neighbourhood.

Coun. Brent Asmundson said the city is doing its best to get the word out, but he sympathized with homeowners close to where the Kadence is proposed, who may have been led astray about their properties; Coun. Trish Mandewo also cited the emails about the tower’s proposed height.

“Nobody owns a view unless you’re on a cliff,” Asmundson said. “I feel bad for people when real estate agents sell somebody a view knowing that view is not likely going to be there for all that time.”

Under the City Centre Area Plan, the small pocket to the southeast of Pipeline Road has a maximum building height of 25 storeys — a contentious point when the plan was being updated, said Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam’s general manager of planning and development services.

Coun. Steve Kim said the Kadence project is the “right land-use for the area” and he thanked the proponents for adding more rental units. 

Like his council colleagues, Kim also encouraged Coquitlam residents to “take a proactive approach and get involved in your city.”

City staff told Tri-City News that the bid could move to final adoption in four to six months. 

Meanwhile, also following Monday’s public hearing, council unanimously gave second and third readings for a plan to rezone 231 Lebleu St. from infill residential to multiplex residential, and to rezone 571 Emerson St. and 604, 606, 608, 612 and a portion of 616 Regan Ave. from infill residential to medium-density housing.