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New West council supports townhouse development in Moody Park

Moody Park residents support gentle infill but voice concerns about parking impacts
Council unanimously supported a heritage/townhouse project in the Moody Park neighbourhood

A new townhouse development has been given the green light to be built in the Moody Park neighbourhood.

The city received a heritage revitalization agreement application for 802 and 806 Eighth St. and 809 Eighth Ave. – a site locate at the corner of Eighth and Eighth. The heritage revitalization agreement would facilitate the retention and on-site restoration of the 1929 Sincock House (on its own subdivided parcel) and the construction of three new townhouse buildings containing side-by-side and stacked townhouse units.

According to city staff, the Sincock House will be relocated to the south corner of the site and subdivided onto its own lot, while 13 family-friendly (three- and four-bedroom) townhouse units and four accessible studio units will be built on a separate larger lot.

At a March 27 public hearing, council heard from a number of New West residents, most who supported the “gentle” densification being proposed at this location.

“There's not a lot of options for townhouses in New Westminster, so the prospect of a development like this going up, really speaks to me and my family, because we're currently in a condo across the street,” said Caroline Howes. “And our only option to move into like a bigger home in this city is at a significant increase to what we're currently paying.”

While all of the speakers at Monday night’s public hearing said they supported the “gentle” densification proposed by the project, several expressed “huge concern” that insufficient parking is being provided. Some said parking “creep” is already occurring in the neighbourhood from people going to Moody Park, Massey Theatre and nearby apartments, and they anticipate that to worsen as the new residents and the EVO cars end up on other streets in the area.

Although the zoning bylaw requires 20 off-street parking spaces, the heritage revitalization agreement would allow for 15 spaces – 14 for residents and one space that will be a shared visitor/loading stall. As part of a transportation demand management strategy, the applicant will provide residents with two-zone Compass passes (24 months for studio units and 12 months for townhouse units and the heritage unit) and EVO car share membership and drive time (40 hours of drive time for studio units and 10 hours of drive time for townhouse and heritage house units.)

In addition, electric bicycles for each studio units will be provided and will be owned by the strata corporation. Long-term and short-term bicycle spaces will also be provided.

Area resident Darrin Grund said he supports the “quality application” but opposes the plan to reduce the number of resident parking spaces by 25 per cent and the number of visitor spaces by 50 per cent. Even though he’s a frequent transit user and a cycling commuter, he said he still owns cars.

“That's the reality of the situation that we live in today. I see no evidence in society today of car ownership diminishing. We are getting electric cars, but we are not actually reducing the amount of car ownership in our communities,” he said. “I believe that reducing the number of parking in this particular proposal is going to negatively impact the neighbourhood.”

Lisa Macgregor expressed concern that one visitor parking spot, which will also serve as a loading zone, is inadequate.

“You have DoorDash, you have your SkipTheDishes people – they need to pop in and out of there. They aren't going to be able to do that,” she said. “You're going to have visitors, people have friends – they drive to people's houses.”

Jackie Teed, the city’s acting director of climate action, said the parking relaxation is being proposed is for the four accessible studio units, plus one fewer visitor’s space. Questioned by council, she said properties of this size aren’t big enough to allow for underground parking.

Following the public hearing, council unanimously supported third reading of the heritage revitalization agreement and heritage designation bylaws.

Mayor Patrick Johnstone said the project is a really good example of the city’s infill density program, as it will provide family-friendly and accessible units in a high-service neighbourhood that’s near a park, schools and shopping areas.

Coun. Nadine Nakagawa said the provision of e-bike storage and car share is a good model to try as a way of encouraging people to move around the community differently.

“We have to start to reduce the number of cars in our community, and to do that we need to build a city that people don't require cars as much,” she said. “And so, by putting higher-density housing along major transit routes, next to a park, next to schools, near shopping centers, that is how we started to get people out of their cars, and we make it so that it is less necessary to need a car in our community.”