When is density not enough ??

So last night and into the wee hours of this morning I attended Coquitlam Council for a public hearing.  The public hearing was to consider a
zoning amendment for 810 McIntosh Street and 811 Kelvin Street, from RS1 to RS3.  RS3 has a minimum parcel size of 6000 sq feet, where RS1 has
a minimum size of 7000 sq feet.

The properties are shown here in the dark outlined box with  the RS-3 designation (what they want to rezone the properties TO.

The lots are currently about 9000sq feet each. The lots are back to back, one lot in from Como Lake at McIntosh.

Under the current RS1 zoning the two lots could each be subdivided making a total of 4 lots, without any need to get approval from the city for anything
other than the subdivision.  It would comply with zoning and OCP for the area.

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The developer has asked for the rezoning to RS3 to allow the subdivision of each existing lot into 3 – so 6 total lots.

The lots would all be over the 6000 sq ft minimum and the City has proposed putting a maximum on the houses on each lot at 5500 sq feet.

Very surprising there were dozens of local residents that showed up to speak AGAINST this item.

Their comments were, for lack of a better word, astounding.

This rezoning would allow TWO more homes that could be built there now, and of course, with the rezoning the city is able to negotiate things like
amenities, maybe easements, laneways, bike lanes, road improvements etc.  Without rezoning none of that is negotiable, they can simply buiild
their 4 houses , I believe they said up to 12000 sq feet or something. (I might be wrong, and im not trying to be dramatic, but i know the number was
very high).

So – what was it the residents were concerned about ??

An increase in traffic !  There would be basement suites they said, so , it isnt just ONE car per house, its two – maybe three !  And this
area is already very busy and there are kids walking to school and the intersection is dangerous and there are cars parking near the road and the kids..
those kids walking to school will surely be run over….

BY ADDING ONE HOUSE ON EACH STREET !!!!!    So, that’s one or maybe TWO cars above what is allowed there now…

If it is in fact two – no , lets make it three cars – and lets assume they are very active and they go in and out in their car four times
per day each, thats 12 movements a day in and out.  That’s ONE CAR EVERY TWO HOURS.   It’ll be like the Lincoln tunnel for gosh sake
! They will be lucky if they dont have to widen the road.

So , why am I in Coquitlam and why am i dripping with sarcasm about and application in a little neighbourhood in a community adjacent to mine ?

I am interested in this because this had previously been proposed as a townhouse project , one that i thought would work very well in the neighbourhood
and might help bring an alternate form of housing for young families to be able to afford and live here.  That project, I was unaware, had already
been thinned down to this 6 house proposal based on push back in the neighbourhood.

This is on Como Lake road, one of the 4-5 major arterial routes in Coquitlam, and one of the two east/west corridors along with Austin Ave.  There
are buses running frequently on Como Lake to connect to Skytrain at Burquitlam , about a 4 minute drive to the west.  Porter and Harbour View
elementary are both easy walks away for any age child.  Banting Middle is just down the road.  Centennial is a little bit of a walk but by
the time the kids turn 14 shouldn’t be too big of a deal.  The neighbourhood is large lot, older established homes mixed with newer homes built
since the 1970-80’s as the original owners sub-divided their very large lots into just ‘large’ lots.   Many of the newer homes are described
and appear as “Monster Homes”, much larger than the 1960’s character neighbourhood.

As the Chair of the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee one of my roles is to help cities find ways to support the Regional Affordable Housing Strategy.
That strategy talks a lot about affordable rentals and sub market housing, but also about the importance of cities providing a mix of form and style
of housing.   Condo, Townhouse, Row House, Carriage House, Single Family, Duplex, Rental, Ownership – all forms of housing are need to fit
the different needs of our community, and this appeared to be a chance for a neighbourhood to embrace the gentlest of densification, adding two houses
above what can be built there tomorrow.  I looked forward to applauding this small step to helping with affordability.

AND THEY CAME OUT TO PROTEST IT.  IN DROVES !

So , the community has spoken.  Does the City listen ? Do the send this developer packing with his crazy idea of adding two homes to the City
?

Honestly I think the residents must have been confused.  They must have thought this was still a proposal with many townhomes proposed.
There’s no way a few dozen people – young, old, moms, dads, grandparents, singles – could oppose TWO HOMES being built in this area.

But they did.  And what to do ?

Do we continue to build into the pristine forests of Burke Mountain, destroying trees, invading on wildlife areas, bringing bears and cougars into
our neighbourhoods ? Building homes where there are no roads, no schools, no sewer, no water, no sidewalks, no buses, no shopping, no amenities ?
So all those people once we plow under the forest and pave the wilderness and build their mansions can move in and then complain they have nothing
in their neigbhourhoods ?

I’m very disappointed.  There are probably hundreds of lots very much like this throughout Coquitlam.  I know I’ve seen them.. Cottonwood,
Grover, Linton, Laurentian, Mundy, Hillcrest, Brisbane.. I know they’re out there.

But the residents will rise up and protest.  So we’ll take our bulldozer back up to Burke Mountain, because the people keep coming and they have
to live somewhere.

Disappointing.  And I stayed till 1:00.  Double Disappointing.

The agenda for the public hearing is here:

http://www.coquitlam.ca/docs/default-source/council-agenda-documents/public_hearing_2017_09_18_item_2.pdf?sfvrsn=2

 

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Mike Clay

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