Maple Ridge city council endorsed a plan to sacrifice future parkland in order to provide more rental housing near the downtown core.
The builder is Amacon Construction, represented at council by Richard Russell, and plans to construct a new six-storey rental apartment building with 165 units at 12129 Edge Street. The 0.4-hectare (one-acre) green space is across the street from St. Patrick’s Church, and north of the Intergenerational Garden at the corner of 121st Avenue.
A minimum of 20 per cent of the units will be rented below 30 per cent of the median income of families in Maple Ridge.
“The development is intended to help with the relocation and accommodation of the residents of the adjacent Maple Court Apartments to the west, during the future redevelopment of these buildings,” said a staff report by senior planner Parissa Shafizadeh.
The Maple Court Apartments, at the corner of 224th Street and 121st Avenue, are deemed to be at the end of their lifespan, and are also owned by Amacon.
The planner also noted the land is designated as parkland in the official community plan. Although it has not been developed or used as a park, council would need to change its land use designation to allow for the apartment building.
Council approved first reading of the plan, and Amacon must now submit a complete application.
“Given the location, the fact that it’s not far from some existing parks, the fact that it does check off the rentals that we’re looking for, this is something I will be supporting,” said Mayor Dan Ruimy.
The staff report noted Reg Franklin Park is nearby, and staff will prioritize the development of a park next to Eric Langton Elementary.
Councillor Sunny Schiller did not want to build over land designated for a future park.
“I’m really struggling with this one,” she said, noting it’s a “thoughtful” project that provides needed housing.
“For me, it’s not housing at any cost, and when I look at a map of the downtown, there is so little green space, to give up a park is a concern to me.”
The community plan lists the proposed apartment site, as well as four residential lots and the community garden on 121st Avenue, as a future park.
Coun. Korleen Carreras supports the plan.
“I think it’s much needed to have some below-market rentals in our community,” she said, and also spoke positively about accommodating Maple Court tenants, all 108 units, during redevelopment.
Coun. Jenny Tan spoke in favour of the plan, in particular, housing Maple Court residents during redevelopment.
“I’m very heartened to see that we will not be suffering from the renoviction issue for this building, that so many other communities have been facing,” said Tan.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef supported the application, and said he was glad to see the developer would commit to commercial space at the ground level.
The applicant said they tried to purchase four houses along 121st Avenue as part of the development, but could not reach a purchase agreement with the property owners.
Staff noted that if there was a need to relocate the intergenerational garden in the future, possible locations would be at Eric Langton, or at Reg Franklin Park.