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Our proposed development will provide 89 units of housing for women, women and children and for women-headed families, 100 per cent of which will be nonmarket and affordable. Priority will be given to women and children who currently live in the Port Coquitlam and Tri-Cities area and to those who were forced to leave the Tri-Cities area in search of safe, affordable housing, but who may still have family and support networks in the Tri-Cities communities. Women and children from the Kwikwetlem Nation will also have priority access.
Study after study shows that safe, affordable and appropriate housing plays a central role in allowing women and families who are marginalized to re-establish their lives. Stable housing is, in fact, the foundation for positive change in the lives of women and their children. It reduces levels of stress and can change the perspectives of women by providing them the opportunity to empower themselves and therefore generate a positive, healthy and nurturing environment for their children. Housing at the Flint Street site will provide a safe, welcoming, affordable home for women and children, a home from which hope and possibility can flow.
Alignment with Metro and Port Coquitlam Housing Needs
Our proposed mixed-use development will provide a variety of housing unit types for women and children in Port Coquitlam and the Tri-Cities area, addressing a specific and urgent need as was identified in the 2015 BC Rental Housing Index, which states:
“Single mothers in Coquitlam are the most financially challenged demographic of all, with 75 per cent falling into the “severe” affordability measure of spending 30 per cent of gross income on housing. About half of single mom renters in Coquitlam spend a “critical” 50 per cent or more of their income on housing, putting them at risk of homelessness, according to housing advocates. On top of that, index measures show 30 per cent of single moms in Coquitlam raise children in overcrowded conditions, compared to 24 per cent of single mom renters across B.C.”
In June 2013, the Tri-Cities Homelessness & Housing Task Group published a report The Housing Needs of Women and Their Children in the Tri-Cities. This report documented the serious lack of permanent affordable housing for women and their children in the Tri-Cities and recommended it be the first priority to address. There are also many women with children who are on BC Housing’s wait list. Many of those women are housed but, in numerous cases, inadequately. The study suggests older siblings of different genders may be sharing bedrooms or in some cases families have even been split up amongst different shelters.
Addressing needs identified in the The Housing Needs of Women and Their Children in the Tri-Cities and in the 2015 BC Rental Housing Index, the proposed development will embrace a mix of women including single women, women and children (including women-headed families where there may be a male partner), single women who are older, and young women who are aging out of care; creating a community of women and families who have similar life experiences such as struggles with homelessness, poverty and experiences of violence/abuse. All leases will be in women’s names.
The development also envisions a licensed, nonprofit daycare of at least 37 spaces that will include infant, toddler and after-school care, and a community health centre, in partnership with the Fraser Health Authority, that will offer a family practice and could include space for independent family doctors, general practitioners and specialists, a pharmacy, a physio practice, and other health-care related businesses. Priority access to both the daycare spaces and the Community Health Centre will be given to the families living in the building and to families in the neighbourhood.
The site is owned by Metro Vancouver and will be leased to Atira Women’s Resource Society on a long-term basis. Located within the Glenwood neighborhood, near Port Coquitlam’s Northside commercial area, the site is accessible for the women who will live there, their children and families. The corner site faces Flint Street and Prairie Avenue, an arterial road serviced with public transit and a marked bicycle route. Kwayhquitlam Middle School is located immediately east and James Park Elementary School is just a 15-minute walk away. The land use designation for the site in Port Coquitlam’s Official Community Plan is Townhouse Residential and an amendment to the Plan would be required to accommodate the proposal. Rezoning would also be required. In 2000, the City gave favourable consideration to a proposal for a 4-storey apartment building and townhouse project but that project did not proceed due to a loss of federal funding at that time.
Proposed Building Use, Size & Design
The vacant site is comprised of four properties located at the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Flint Street. The site area is a total of 49,372 square feet. The concept consists of three blocks of two and three storey townhomes flanking the interior and rear lot lines as a respectful buffer to the adjacent townhome and single family developments, with a five-storey, mixed-use apartment building at the corner of Prairie and Flint. Parking will be underground with access from the lane, and a drop-off area is proposed to be located next to the lane. The main floor of the mixed-use apartment building is proposed to house a total of 16,000 square feet of commercial space that would house a nonprofit, community daycare (5200 sq.ft.), a community health centre and or other social enterprise endeavors. Floors two-five above will house 76 dwelling units, from small studio units to four-bedrooms, ranging in size from 320 to 1,300 square feet. The townhomes being proposed consist of eight, three-bedroom units, four, four-bedroom units and one, five-bedroom home ranging in size from 1,200 through 1,600 square feet and having a height of three storeys; there is one, two-storey townhome. The total approximate gross floor area is 15,400 square feet. The total proposed square footage for the development is estimated to be 94,000 square feet.
Energy Saving Features
Our development will embrace the upcoming changes to the BC Building Code and the implementation of a stepped level of building code requirements as it relates to sustainability. The reduction of GHGs, energy usage and implementation of construction methodologies to ensure that our building is sustainable and energy efficient during its life cycle is an important consideration, which we take seriously.
We will implement an energy modeling program as part of our overall design process. We will work closely with BC Housing and Metro Vancouver to ensure that building components (continuous air barrier, heat recovery units and minimizing thermal bridging) provide for the most sustainable building possible and ensure the building’s energy consumption is compliant with the upcoming step level program within the BC Building Code to be implemented later this year as well as the City’s Environmental Conservation development permit requirements.
Who will live in the new project?
The project will be tenanted by women, children and families, with a focus on creating a intergenerational community that includes young women, women who are older (seniors) and well as single moms with children and single moms with children and partners. Priority will be given to women who currently live in Port Coquitlam and who are homeless (e.g. living in a transition house) or precariously housed (e.g. paying more rent than they can afford, living in a small or poorly maintained basement suite, etc.) and to women currently living in the Tri-Cities communities. Women from the Kwikwetlem First Nation will also be prioritized, as well as women whose children already attend school in the area. Only if the units are unable to be filled by women from the immediate community, will units be offered to women from outside the community. In this case priority will go to women who grew up in and still have family and support networks in the Tri-Cities area.
How much rent will women pay?
One third of the rents will be targeted at maximum shelter allowance for women and families in receipt of income assistance or eligible for a Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) subsidy. One third of the rents will be targeted according to Housing Income Limits (HILs), a rent that is established based on 30% of gross annual household income. Information about HILs is available here: Housing Income Limits (HILs). One third of the rents will be targeted at low end of market rents, which will be established towards the completion of the project. Low end of market rents will likely be between 10 and 20% below local-area market rents.
What will the rent up process look like?
Prospective tenants will be vetted through a typical tenanting process, e.g. references and credit history checked, and all tenants will be required to sign a standard residential tenancy agreement as well as Atira’s Good Neighbour Agreement, and a Crime Free Housing Addendum. As this will be long-term housing, tenants will typically enter into a one-year lease, after which tenancies will revert to month-to-month.
Where will residents park?
Parking will be provided on site, in an underground structure, accessible from the lane. We are working with third-party transportation planning engineers to ensure adequate parking for residents and visitors is provided.
What about traffic impacts?
As noted above, we are working with third-party transportation planning engineers, who will produce a study that ensures all aspects of parking and traffic generation is captured, studied and factored into the design. Their scope of work will be vetted and defined by the City of Port Coquitlam and the study will be made public and posted on this webpage when complete.
Is the day care only for children who live in the building?
No, the day care will also be accessible to the community at large, with priority access provided to the families in the building, families in the neighbourhood and families with children attending the Kwayhquitlam middle school.
What about the community health centre?
Like the day care, the proposed community health centre will be accessible to the community at large with priority provided to families living in building as well as to those living in the immediate neighbourhood.
Will there be methadone clinic or safe injection site in the development?
No. Absolutely not.
Will the clinic offer addictions treatment?
Like all health centres, clinics and medical practices, what treatments are offered at the health centre will be between the individual doctors and their patients. It is possible that some doctors may be offering some patients treatment for struggles with substance use, but this is not the focus of the health centre and so would be no more visible than at any other medical practice.
I thought this site was going to be a park?
The site was acquired by the Greater Vancouver Housing Corporation a number of years ago and has been considered for a variety of nonmarket housing purposes over the years. While the site is designated in the City’s Official Community Plan (OCP) for townhomes, the Plan also contains policies which support consideration of non-market housing to meet housing needs. The OCP represents the City’s vision for the future growth and development of the community and guides development by establishing policies and designating land for specific uses. It also provides clear direction as to how the community will grow and change in the coming years. The current OCP was adopted in 2005 and substantially updated in 2013 and is available for review on the City website here: https://www.portcoquitlam.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/3838-Official-Community-Plan.pdf
What will happen to the trees?
We are working with a third-party certified arborist who will produce a report regarding the existing trees on the site, assessing each individual tree for health and safety concerns, which will then be verified by City staff. We recognize mature trees improve the public realm and enhance any new development by providing an established-neighbourhood look and feel. As such, we will endeavour to save as many healthy trees as possible. We also recognize we heard from some neighbours who had concerns about the health of a safety risks posed by the trees along the west lot line. Those neighbours expressed a desire to see those trees removed and replaced with newer, healthier and fuller vegetation, which would also provide a better screen and more privacy. Like the traffic study, the arborist report will be made public and posted on this webpage when complete.
Is this a done deal?
No. While the City recognizes the need to increase its supply of affordable housing, like all other new developments, this project must proceed through a municipal process, which provides the public an opportunity to have input and provide feedback on all aspects of the project. The project team held its first public open house on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017. 21 neighbours and interested community members attended, asked questions, and shared their thoughts on topics ranging from the building design to plans for existing trees, to the women, children and families who will ultimately be housed in the new development. A second public open house is scheduled for Thursday, November 23rd, 2017 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. A larger venue is currently being sought and will be advertised well in advance of the open house.
When will it be built?
We are targeting construction to begin in early 2019 and completion in the summer of 2020.