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1,300 units in Capstan supported by majority of Richmond council

Three councillors argued to have 25 per cent of the development as rental units
Richmond condos

A housing development with more than 1,300 units in the Capstan area is moving forward despite calls for more rental units to be built.

The application by Polygon Talisman to develop a property on Cambie and Garden City roads passed a council vote 6-3 – next it will move forward to a public hearing.

The application has been on council’s agenda twice before and Polygon has made changes, for example, agreeing to move a greenspace in order to save several dozen mature trees on the property.

This iteration of the application adds 51 rental homes to the project bringing the total to 171. The number of affordable rentals that will be built as part of the project remains the same at 156 units.

There will be 1,014 strata units and the entire project will be about 1.2 million square feet in size.

The affordable and market rental units comprise almost 14 per cent of the units in this project.

Couns. Carol Day, Michael Wolfe and Chak Au voted against the application, saying 25 per cent of the units should be rentals.

At Monday’s council meeting, Day referred to a housing needs report that was compiled by city staff and which will be dealt with at Thursday’s planning meeting.

She pointed to statistics in the report that show only six per cent of construction in Richmond  in the past decade has been for rentals.

According to Day, the report shows Richmond has “flatlined” in trying to bring down the number of people paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

“We have remained stagnant – it’s pretty obvious that status quo doesn’t work anymore,” Day said.

Coun. Chak Au said there was no sacrifice for the developer to add more market rentals in this version of the plan because this was compensated by density bonusing.

The 51 market rentals that were added in this round were tacked on as extra square footage.

He suggested sending it back to ask for 25 per cent rental market units, but this was not supported by the majority on council.

Coun. Bill McNulty said housing is an issue because the population is increasing and enough housing isn’t being built.

Furthermore, he said, council has “pushed it to the limit” as far as getting concessions from Polygon with this application.

“No matter what we do, we’ll never satisfy everybody,” McNulty said in support of the application.

McNulty said he was pleased with what the city was getting from this developer, but added the city “can’t get everything from one developer.”
“If we push sometimes too hard with one developer, we won’t get anything,” McNulty said.

Coun. Andy Hobbs said various bank reports have shown Canada has the fewest number of homes in all G7 countries, and that B.C.’s and Metro Vancouver’s populations are expected to keep rising.

He added the Polygon project can’t solve all of Richmond’s housing problems.

“It’s not just about low-end market rental and it’s not just about market rentals, it’s about homes that people want to purchase,” Hobbs said.

He added the city’s policies on housing have been “met or exceeded with this development proposal.”

Coun. Alexa Loo said the developer has already stepped up with new requests from council, to move a park in order to save mature trees and to add affordable and rental housing.

“We keep asking for things and they’ve kept doing it,” Loo said. “At some point, we actually have to say, that’s what we asked for, that was the criteria, let’s approve this, let’s move on.”

Loo said council should be moving forward in a “measured considered pace,” building community.

“We’re not just slapping huge rental buildings up because rentals are a good idea this week and next week it’s going to be community centres or something else,” Loo said.

In the end, council voted to pass first reading on the application.