Maple Ridge council has given third reading to a project that would see two six-storey, concrete-and-steel condo towers on 227th Street downtown.
Council voted on the proposal Tuesday following a March 19 public hearing which drew 11 speakers, with some questioning the decision to opt for a cash-in-lieu payment of $256,000 instead of a housing agreement requiring 16 rental apartments for 20 years, three of which would have been affordable housing.
“I have a lot of concerns with this. I recognize the developer has said it will still build the affordable market rental units, however there’s no agreement in place,” said Coun. Kiersten Duncan.
Without an agreement, the developer doesn’t have to build those units, she added.
“I’d be a lot more comfortable if there was a housing agreement in place.”
The original proposal required a housing agreement to be signed between the developer and the city, requiring 13 market rental units and three affordable rental units, as part of a density-bonusing agreement.
Duncan also said the $256,000 cash-in-lieu payment was “minimal” and doesn’t match the investment in rental housing the city could have received. She wanted a review of the amount the city receives when it opts for cash instead of affordable rental housing when new housing projects are built.
Coun. Gordy Robson agreed with Duncan that the amount was too low, but asked if Maple Ridge could be responsible in the future for monitoring “myriad” of housing agreements. Instead, he favoured collecting the cash and putting it into a new fund, which would then be used to buy land, which the city would offer to service providers for creating affordable housing.
“We have to decide, for the sake of our community, which direction we’re going in,” Robson said.
One speaker at the public hearing said that rental units should be in every condo building and that creating purpose-built affordable housing could lead to ghetto-like structures.
According to a staff report, architect Wayne Bissky said that the current proposal was identical to that presented at a previous developer information meeting for the neighbourhood.
All told, if the project is approved, the developer will pay more than $700,000 in community amenity contributions and cash in lieu.