Homes replace businesses in Steveston's last industrial pasture

One of Steveston’s last plots of industrial land, which once housed a number of popular businesses, is expected to be rezoned for single-family homes.

The rezoning of the Trites Road property, near Moncton Street, is no game-changer but it, nevertheless, reveals the nature of development occurring in Steveston, as it relates to land use and housing affordability.

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Two industrial buildings — once home to the likes of Steveston Automotive and Autobody, Steveston Bottle Depot and Generations Daycare — were demolished last weekend, ahead of a planning committee meeting Tuesday that tabled the application by 1056023 Holdings Limited Partnership to build 30 relatively small, detached homes.

A near mirror of the proposal is in development on Moncton. Together, 60 homes will replace the now-demolished buildings and (six) detached homes (along Moncton).

Although the rezoning was expected, since the land is designated residential in the 2012 official community plan, Coun. Linda McPhail, the committee’s chair, said the developer did take a risk in demolishing the buildings first.

“I wondered about that,” she said.

Nevertheless, the committee voted in favour of the proposal, which will head to a full council vote Monday, followed by an expected public hearing.

Coun. Harold Steves opposed the rezoning.

“I’m not fighting it, I’m just making a statement,” he said.

Steves claims he opposed the initial re-designation of the land in the early 1990s (although he approved the community plan in 2012).

“We should be leaving some industrial there,” he said.

However, McPhail said the proposal is in line with other recent residential developments in the area.

“When I look at the area, it’s been in transition for a long time. 

“Some of the concern is, where are the businesses going?” said McPhail.

McPhail added she is well-aware of the need to maintain industrial land elsewhere in Richmond.

“We need to have that conversation as a community,” she said.

Last year, the daycare found a new home at the Steveston boardwalk (Imperial Landing) through special “spot rezoning.”

McPhail, a nearby resident, said she will miss the bottle depot and, likewise, Steves was a fan of the auto shop.

Steves said the property was also used to store the nets of fishermen, who are now using storage units near Ironwood.

“I warned before we were losing too much industrial land,” said Steves, who admits he did support residential home development west of Trites Road in the early 1990s, but only because it was part of a deal that would see the renewal of the Britannia Heritage Shipyards. 

Those existing residents are likely happy to see the penultimate industrial property on Trites go, said McPhail.

Meanwhile, more residents to the west will continue to transform Steveston, which is growing in population, unlike the rest of west Richmond, according to the 2016 census. 

While it is extremely rare to create more single-family home zoning in Richmond, McPhail said the developer noted there’s a demand.

1056023 Holdings Limited Partnership paid $14 million for the 3.15-acre site, according to Avison Young sales listings.

The average home size will be 1,975-square-feet.

Nearby, at the corner of Trites and Moncton, three new homes of the same size are under construction after one home was recently demolished. They are listed at $1.6 million.

The city is charging the developer $118,541 ($2 per square foot of building) to be put towards the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.

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