Maple Ridge may be giving the green light to a six-storey apartment building in the city’s downtown core — despite concerns over the loss of park space.
City council gave first reading to the rental proposal at 12129 Edge Street on Tuesday.
The proposed development, led by Amacon Construction, is slated to feature 165 units, at least 20 per cent of which would be rented out at less than 30 per cent of the median total income for Maple Ridge families.
However, the development comes with an environmental cost.
The vacant lot is designated for a park under the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP) — which prompted some concern about the loss of green space in downtown Maple Ridge.
“I’m struggling with this one,” stated Coun. Sunny Schiller at the Sep. 5 meeting. “It’s very thoughtful in terms of the type of housing that is provided, which we very much need, but for me it’s not ‘housing at any cost.’”
There’s already a lack of green spaces in downtown Maple Ridge, Coun. Schiller declared, adding that the OCP must have had an intention to develop a park within the downtown core when it was adopted in 2014.
“It’s a concern to me that we would start chopping this one up. While I appreciate it does provide the type of housing we’re looking for, I wish it wasn’t on a park,” she stated.
While 12129 Edge Street is designated as a park in the OCP, the land is zoned for single-family housing, according to a report to council.
Mark McMullen, the city’s manager of development and environmental services, stated that he couldn’t clarify why the land was chosen to become a future park.
But as the OCP was being developed, Maple Ridge had a goal to mandate a specific number of areas within the city that could become green spaces, which may have contributed to the decision.
“In our [OCP] planning and area plans, we require a certain amount of park [spaces] to make a livable community,” he stated. “The parks department has set rates of acres per park per thousand people and that may have contributed to this being identified as a park.”
The report to council also argued that there are a couple of parks near the proposed development.
Reg Franklin Park is within walking distance of 12129 Edge Street, and a park is scheduled to be developed on 227 Street near Eric Langton elementary school.
Coun. Korean Carreras voiced support for the development.
She specifically praised how the proposed rental apartment would house existing residents living in a nearby apartment building, Maple Court Apartments, which is at the end of its lifespan and may be redeveloped in the coming years.
“I think it’s much needed to have some below-market rentals in our community,” Coun. Carreras stated.
The project is set to include 10 three-bedroom units, 54 two-bedroom units and 101 one-bedroom units
Mayor Dan Ruimy also supported the motion, citing the property’s location to nearby parks and a need for affordable housing as the two main factors in his decision.
But he also expressed hesitancy about developing green spaces within downtown Maple Ridge.
“We do have to be careful that we don’t get rid of all of our green spaces,” he stated. “But in this case, I think we’re close enough to some local amenities that compensate for that.”
Amacon Construction must submit a complete application to council following council’s approval.
A public meeting will also be held before the proposed development reaches the second reading stage at a future council meeting.