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New West committed to child care and community centre at Sapperton Green

Neighbourhood could one day house 9,300 residents
Sapperton Green rendering2
Artist's rendering of the proposed Sapperton Green neighbourhood in New West.

The City of New Westminster will stop processing applications for the Sapperton Green development until it gets more clarity on the timing of its community centre and child-care amenities.

QuadReal Property Group has submitted a revised master plan to the city related to Sapperton Green, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development that’s being planned for a 38.35-acre site at 97 Braid St. The developer outlined its current proposal for the site at the Sept. 21 meeting of the city’s advisory planning commission.

At its Oct. 4 meeting, city council released a resolution approved at a closed meeting. In the motion, council directed staff to discontinue further advancement of the processing of the official community plan and zoning amendment applications for Sapperton Green until such a time that it’s determined when the community centre with child-care space will be delivered to the community, should the development applications be approved.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said the Sapperton Green project’s OCP and rezoning processes have been in the works for several years and are getting closer to going to council for its consideration.

“One of the big amenities that is coming out of that project is the development of a new community centre in Sapperton, to be located in the site there,” he told the Record. “Essentially, what the report is getting at is, there is a dispute between the city and the developer as to exactly when the community centre and the child-care spaces should be built as part of the project. The developer would like to not have to build that community amenity until the very end of the development project, whereas the city would like to see it more towards the beginning or the middle of the project.”

A staff report states the master planned community calls for: up to 4.455 million square feet of residential floor space (including condos, market rental and affordable housing); 750,000 square feet of office commercial space; about 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail commercial floor space; a 35,000-square-foot community centre and child-care space; a central park; greenways; and open spaces. It’s projected to provide homes for 9,300 residents.

“From our perspective, this is going to be one of the largest master planned developments in our community, and we think it has a lot of benefits, but a big part of making sure we are building a complete community is ensuring we are getting these amenities,” Cote said. “This is going to be a project that will likely take more than 10 years to develop, and from our perspective we want to start to deliver on some of the benefits to the community earlier in the process than the very end.”

Jackie Teed, the city’s senior manager of development services, said the timing of the Sapperton Green community centre’s construction hasn’t been determined. She said staff will report back to council once that information is known.

“They have directed us to determine this as a next step,” she said. “It is definitely something that council wants to have clarity on.”

No firm timeline has been established for when the official community plan amendment and rezoning applications would be forwarded to council for its consideration, Teed said.

“That is really going to depend on our discussion with them about the childcare and just some other final discussions with some of the phasing and those kinds of things,” she said. “We are aiming to get it in front of council as soon as we can.”

Affordable housing added

In 2015, city council approved an official community plan amendment for the site. In 2017, council endorsed a preliminary master plan concept as the basis for public consultation, but also directed staff and the applicant to work at incorporating affordable housing into the proposal.

Teed said the development proposal has gone relatively unchanged in the past two to three years, with the exception of the inclusion of affordable housing.

“It hasn’t changed much since the proposal we received in 2017, in relation to things like the roads, the transportation network, the open space, the parks and those kinds of things,” she said. “One thing that has changed is that in 2017 council directed us to ensure that affordable housing was included. The updated proposal now has about 4.2 million square feet of market units and 255,000 square feet of affordable housing. So there is more residential in that regard. The office floor space has not changed.”

According to a staff report, the revised master plan concept has a residential density of 4.2 million square feet (390,192 square metres), which is an increase from the previous 3.4 million square feet (315,870 square metres). Staff say this increase is proposed to support the inclusion of at least 255,000 square feet (23,690 square metres) of affordable housing.

“It is a mixed-use development that includes office space and a significant amount of residential space, and a combination of rental and market. There is a sizable portion of affordable housing that’s now part of the project,” Teed said. “The core elements of the project have not seen any significant changes over the last couple of years, but we are now getting into the more finer details of the negotiations, such as the timing of the amenities, before we are about to fully bring this project to council.”

Cote said the city is looking forward to continue working the developer to see the many years of work on this project come to fruition.

 “We are certainly excited about moving forward with this important project but it is a significant project that needs to come with community amenities,” he said.

Like the Brewery District, Victoria Hill and Port Royal neighbourhoods, Sapperton Green will be a master-planned community that takes years to complete.

“It is a significant site in the city,” Teed said. “It is going to take many years – it’s like adding a whole new neighbourhood, in terms of numbers. So, we want to make sure that we get it right.”

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus