Woodland Park Townhomes. For Sale?
Recently I became aware that there is a real estate listing for Woodland Park Townhomes. The entire property. 200 homes on 23 acres.
If you don’t know where Woodland Park Townhomes are, they are in College Park, centred around Cecile and Angela, but are a huge portion of College Park.
News of this listing has spread in the neighbourhood, and on the internet/Facebook.
Understandably, this is of grave concern to those that live in this development.
I will put an ‘executive summary’ right up front:
I, and I am confident ALL of City Council, will do everything to ensure that this neighbourhood remains the great neighbourhood that it is, with affordable family housing. I do not want to see any single resident or family have to leave our community as a result of the sale of this property that results in a loss of housing or an increase in rents. There is currently no proposal, offer, or anything else on the table to indicate this is going to happen, but I certainly understand the concerns of residents that this crazy real-estate market would lead to exactly that. I continue to work with the City, Metro, the Province and Federal governments to bring MORE affordable family housing to Port Moody, and I know Council supports that as well. It is being made very clear to all developers that ANYTHING that happens in this neighbourhood must respect the current residents, the neighbourhood character and any changes would only be considered if the residents consider them to be positive to the neighbourhood.
This is not an area that our OCP identifies for growth or for change, but envisions this remaining as a low-density family neighbourhood! The language used in the real estate presentation is presumptuous and is not language anyone at the City would use. There is no explicit or implicit opportunity to redevelop in this area.
Woodland Park is an older development, with 19 buildings of relatively low density for a multi-family development (certainly low density by today’s standards), two storey buildings, with 2 and 3 bedroom homes. Most of the families have lived in the area for some time and there are MANY school-aged kids living in the homes, attending Seaview, Glenayre, Moody Middle, Banting and PMSS.
This is a great Port Moody neighbourhood, the kind of neighbourhood every city would be proud to have, and the residents are highly involved in the community and the City. Imagine the impact the sale of these homes could have on our City. These are some of the best and most affordable family rental units in Port Moody, and we haven’t had any purpose-built rentals built since the 1980s. While Council has recently approved over 500 new rental homes to be built in the City, with over 100 at income based rents, these are still in the planning stages. Rental housing, in particular, was identified as a need throughout the Metro Vancouver region and in Port Moody specifically.
But I digress – Woodland Park Townhomes. Some of us have feared for some time that this property would at some point come under pressure to redevelop or sale. This is a huge site, single owner, well maintained, good access, and in a very desirable neighbourhood. And even those of us that aren’t builders or developers can see the opportunity to increase the density on the property that would be a draw for many developers, particularly in a market as in demand as Port Moody.
In my role as chair of the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee, I work every day with Metro, BC Housing, other municipalities, non-profit housing providers and the development community finding opportunities to provide more affordable housing in the City and in the region. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation currently provides housing to about 10,000 residents in Metro Vancouver with 30% being income based below market. The remaining 70% are ‘cost recovery’ rents that are generally also significantly below market. The properties are owned by Metro Vancouver Housing Corp, meaning the 21 member municipalities. We have been very busy identifying opportunities to improve/expand our existing housing stock and also to identify new opportunities with the Provincial, Federal and other Municipal governments. We have built great relationships with non-profits and companies such as Catalyst who have developed the recently approved project for the St Andrews United Church site. These are exciting projects, and we are seeing success, but also this has made me very aware of some of the challenges and how many communities are suffering the same issues as we are in Port Moody and the Tri Cities: lack of any rental stock built since the 1980’s and aging rental stock being redeveloped and becoming less affordable. Lack of Federal funding led to the end of the Co-Op programs that brought many great homes and neighbourhoods to the region in the 1980s. Rentals have been left generally to private owners with investment properties doing individual rentals – no tenure, no security for the tenant.
A couple of months ago, prior to this property being listed for sale, I brought together a draft Rental Protection Policy and Tenant Relocation Policy and these were adopted by Council in July. The policies are based on similar policies in Vancouver, North Vancouver and New Westminster, three cities that have had significant growth, are increasing rental units, and have aging rental stock under threat of redevelopment.
The Rental Protection Policy (http://www.portmoody.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=17287) outlines the City’s expectations should someone wish to come forward with the intent to redevelop an existing rental development. It identifies that the City will expect a minimum of 1:1 replacement of the rental homes, of the same form & character (# of bedrooms, sq ft, etc) It speaks to redevelopment accommodating existing tenants, about opportunities to increase affordability and incentives that developers may be able to take advantage of .
The Tenant Relolation Policy (http://www.portmoody.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=17286) outlines the City’s expectations should a property be redeveloped, for ensuring existing tenants are accommodated with replacement homes should they be forced from their homes during redevelopment. The policy includes tenant relocation plans and assistance, equivalent housing provisions, monetary compensation and ‘move back’ rights on project completion.
These policies make it very clear to the potential developers what will be expected from them should they choose to go ahead with a redevelopment plan and that we expect no loss of rental stock for Port Moody families. Remembering these are private properties that all carry existing zoning, most of the tools the City has are enabled on redevelopment that includes a change in zoning/density/land use. With the age of most of our rental stock, it is most likely that any development proposed today would involve a request to change from the existing configuration.
Woodland Park Townhomes property is currently 3 city parcels, totalling over 23 acres and zone RM3 – multi-family residential. (http://www.portmoody.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=16525 – page 71 of zoning bylaw) There is currently no stipulation in the zoning bylaw that the homes are rentals, as the BC Government is just now enabling ‘rental’ as a type of zoning, which we have not had in the past. So it is these policies and the Strata Conversion Policy, that provide some protection from losing these homes to redevelopment that might end up with luxury, or certainly less affordable, condos.