A plan for a large residential development in Capstan was sent back to city hall staff to figure out if mature trees on the property could be saved and if more rental units could be added.
After several members of the public spoke at a public hearing Monday about the loss of the green area and 154 mature trees by Cambie and Garden City roads, as well as the need for more rental units in Richmond, city council decided to refer the project back to staff instead of moving forward with second and third readings.
The Polygon Talisman project for about 1,200 new homes — one million square feet in residential housing — located south of Cambie Road and west of Garden City Road, is a three-phase development that includes a purpose-built affordable rental building that will be managed by Success, and a market rental building.
Richmond resident Jim Wright argued at the public hearing for keeping the greenspace with the 154 mature trees, where “nature has reclaimed nature.”
“We have a golden opportunity to empower nature to go further,” said Wright.
He suggested appealing to the philanthropic nature of the developer, Michael Audain, to create an “Audain Natural Area” where the greenspace currently exists.
John Roston, a Steveston resident, asked for more rental housing, pointing out Richmond’s rental units comprise 26 per cent of all housing, whereas in Vancouver, this figure is 53 per cent, according to the 2016 census.
He suggested council ask for 80 per cent rental in this development, saying because of economies of scale, it would be easier to manage large rental complexes, rather than smaller ones.
The developer is proposing 150 units of low-end rental and 65 market rental units out of a total 1,226 units.
Couns. Linda McPhail and Alexa Loo voted against referring the project back to staff.
Loo said the applicant had gone through all the steps as expected, adding she doesn’t know how developers can get financing “if we keep making the timeline ever longer.”
Loo questioned whether the greenspace was safe for children to play in.
“I’m not convinced the park, that space as it is right now, would provide enough security as a park space,” Loo said.
“If I was living next to it, I think I would be a little concerned having my kids playing there.”
Furthermore, delaying the development because of council’s referral would push the affordable rentals back even further, she said.