Development, neighbourhood planning, housing types

Development, neighbourhood planning, housing types
Heritage character area-Moody Centre

The image above first appeared in post: Moody Centre designated heritage character area — ??

The Tri-City News reported this week on the pace of development in the Tri-Cities, and noted the pace is much brisker right now in Coquitlam than in Port Moody, but that could change.

Article title, link, and excerpts are below. Emphasis added.
Evergreen Line continues to spur development Coquitlam is changing fast, Port Moody is waiting for plans and Port Coquitlam is banking on industrial development
Diane Strandberg / Tri City News, February 17, 2016

“Coquitlam’s skyline continues to change with more cranes and more demand for housing as the Evergreen Line project races towards a 2017 completion date. In Port Moody, meanwhile, a slower approach is being taken, according to development permit application figures.
[…]
Next door in Port Moody, which will have two Evergreen Line stations — one at Inlet Centre and another at Moody Centre, at the site of the current West Coast Express station — development has been more subdued. In 2015, the city issued permits for $21.1 million worth of construction, up from $12 million in 2014 — nothing like what is taking place in Coquitlam along the Evergreen Line.

James Stiver, PoMo’s general manager of development services, said he has heard a lot of talk about land assembly taking place in the Moody Centre area, near the Evergreen Line, but speculated that developers are waiting for the area’s neighbourhood plan to be completed before presenting their plans.

“That’s underway now,” Stiver said of the plan, noting that council gave staff until mid-year to finish it, and a market study and a view of density for the area are underway.

As well, the Coronation Park neighbourhood is still under study.

One of the bigger projects underway is a new building for Moody middle school, valued at $24 million, and the nine-storey Onni office building is taking shape in Suter Brook.

“It’s a huge shot in the arm for the city to have a lot of office space close to the transit station,” said Stiver.”

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We know there is a great deal of planning happening right now in Moody Centre, including proposals for major development such as the Flavelle and Andres Wine sites, as well as smaller-scale projects, and land assembly.

There is still a lot we don’t know, including details on major proposals.

We don’t know when or if the city plans to engage with Moody Centre residents on “our neighbourhood plan.”  MCCA has asked about this, but so far hasn’t received an answer. Hopefully there will be an affirmative reply soon.

With regard to housing types and development in Moody Centre, MCCA is on the record as supporting sensitive infill to support some growth, but also in a way that is respectful to an established neighbourhood. Moody Centre is a combination of single-family detached housing, townhouses, and low-rise multi-family apartments and condos.

Also in the Tri-City News (online only) was a letter to the editor claiming single-family homes are subsidized by multi-family units. It’s in response to a letter posted previously on this site, Moody Centre opinions on land use and housing. The most recent letter is below.

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Letter: Realtor says research on his side re. multi-family
The fact that infrastructure required for single-family homes is subsidized by multi-family units has been well documented over the past few decades, writes John Grasty.
Tri-City News, Feb. 12, 2016

The Editor,

Re: “Multi-family does not subsidize” (Letters, The Tri-City News, Jan. 20).

Thank you to Rick Evon for his letter questioning the sources for my statements pertaining to infrastructure costs published in The Tri-City News (“Detached homes are a hot commodity,” Jan. 5).

The fact that infrastructure required for single-family homes is subsidized by multi-family units has been well documented over the past few decades. A simple internet search for “costs of sprawl” will return many research papers, and one in particular I referred to as a source for my comments was local.

“Understanding Sprawl” is a British Columbia publication of the David Suzuki Foundation; here are two short excerpts.

“Suburban homebuyers often focus on the cost of a house, which is cheaper when built on land further from the city centre. They usually pay only slight attention to the maintenance costs of the infrastructure their new community will need, though these costs may eventually show up as increased property taxes. They may also fail to consider fully the additional transportation costs of living in a setting where all trips require a car, though these transportation costs can begin to add up quickly.”

“It is obviously more expensive to lay sewer, water and gas pipes, and build roads and electric grids over longer distances than shorter ones. It is also more expensive to provide police, fire, sanitation, snow removal and transit services to large low-density areas. The cost of providing services increases with distance and decreases with density.”

The footprint of single-family homes is the least efficient, and one key reason for the justification and widespread adoption of Transit-Oriented Development in urban census metropolitan areas is the many efficiencies it offers.

John Grasty, Port Moody

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MCCA president Hazel Mason’s comments on the above.

John Grasty says multi-family residential units subsidize single family homes. To support his claim, he cherry-picks quotes, with inadequate context.

Mr. Grasty is well known locally for promoting major densification of Coronation Park and Moody Centre with multi-family residential units. He is also in the business of selling property.

Coronation Park and Moody Centre are not new suburbs. They are well-established neighbourhoods, with existing infrastructure.

Mr. Grasty provides an excerpt from “Urban Sprawl” to back up his claims. It’s important to note that the reference refers to “new community” including laying new “sewer, water and gas pipes, and build[ing] roads and electric grids.” The key word is “new” as in new subdivision.

Mr. Grasty suggests a simple internet search for “costs of sprawl” will prove his point.

Alternatively, a simple Internet search for “established neighbourhoods” along with development will turn up plenty of arguments for respecting the character of existing neighbourhoods, with guidelines for sensitive infill.

A little background: Skytrain was soundly rejected in Port Moody’s 2004 referendum. When the two Port Moody stations were announced a few years later, the reasons given were that Inlet Centre had already achieved density, and Moody Centre was an existing transit hub.

Established neighbourhoods are not static, and some change is to be expected. But it sounds as though Mr. Grasty is suggesting Single Family Homes (SFH) are bad and could be razed and replaced with multi-family units for more efficiency.

Our city officially promotes a variety of housing types; rightly so, since people have different needs.

In summary, Mr. Grasty’s economic argument ignores the larger context and a multitude of variables.

We welcome your comments.

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