Residents in one Port Moody neighbourhood are hoping a task force of city councillors will finally give some teeth to “Good Neighbour guidelines” that were adopted in 2015 to protect the “peaceful enjoyment of the community.”
Beverley Davino said her Pleasantside neighbourhood is being torn asunder by the construction of new homes that dwarf their neighbours, obstructing views, causing privacy concerns and creating a feeling of ill will.
Davino said the homes — some larger than 6,000 square feet — counter the spirit of the guidelines, which ask builders to be considerate of how a project fits into the surrounding neighbourhood and the impacts it may have on other residents.
One of those residents, Gary McKinnon, has seen his expansive southwest view of Burrard Inlet that he has enjoyed since moving into his 1,800-sq.-ft. home above Ioco Road in 1975 obliterated by the construction of two homes on a subdivided single lot that used to be occupied by the home and gardens of beloved community member, Bill McCracken.
One of the houses will be 5,500 to 6,000 sq. ft. while the other could end up as large as 7,000 sq. ft., McKinnon said. That has him seeing plywood — massive expanses of it — instead of the wooded slopes of Burnaby Mountain from his living room window.
“It’s very frustrating, to say the least,” McKinnon told the Tri-City News, adding he tried to fight the construction of the homes for three years after the property was sold.
At its May 28 meeting, Port Moody council struck a task force to look at the issue of neighbourhood-appropriate homes over the next six months. Coun. Hunter Madsen, who proposed the investigation, said he has been hearing lots of complaints from residents in neighbourhoods like Pleasantside, Glenayre and Moody Centre.
“This seems like a good time to take a look at current bylaws, get the community to come together and talk about the annoying issues, and see if we can identify any areas we need to improve,” Madsen said.
Those issues could include the height of new homes, their impact on views, the compatibility of their design with neighbouring homes and even lighting, he said.
“How do we strike the right balance between owners’ right to build the house of their choosing and the desires of the neighbourhood?”
McKinnon said he has heard it all before.
“This is like déjà vu for the third time,” he said. “We get all the good intentions but then it gets diverted.”
And Davino said, since Port Moody issued its Good Neighbour guidelines, “the houses are getting bigger and worse.”
Acting Mayor Meghan Lahti said the issue of new homes that are out of scale with their neighbours has raised tensions in parts of the city. She said some that are under construction have been targets of vandalism and graffiti.
“We need to be more neighbourly,” she said.
But Lahti cautioned there’s only so much council can do as, under the community charter, it can’t dictate the architectural form and character of homes.