Big changes promised for Connaught Heights
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
With Metro Vancouver’s steadily-growing population, the need for increased housing is imminent. The City of New Westminster has their sights set on a dramatic scenic overhaul around 22nd Street Station. With an expansive view of the Fraser River and the cities it snakes through, the low-density residential area surrounding the station is being observed, with big plans ahead.
According to their Official Community Plan, New Westminster has considered placing several high-rises and townhouses in close proximity to the SkyTrain, with single-family homes stretching out beyond in green-space areas.
In late January, city council proposed three options for the land between 23rd Street and 20th Street, and Sixth Avenue and Edinburgh Street. The first option includes four high-rises and three blocks of mid-rises. The second option includes six towers and two blocks of mid-rises. The third option includes eight high-rises, with a small amount of land used for townhouses.
Discussions are still being flushed out as council is concerned about how the area will look in the next 25 years, noting that there will be divisions among residents. If there’s one thing that is for sure, it’s the fact that the council is confident in its decision to introduce high-rises around the 22nd SkyTrain Station.
“This scenario allows a greater number of people to live in close proximity to the SkyTrain station,” explained a staff report from city officials. “The higher population near the station also better supports the amount of commercial proposed, since there will be more customers in the area. This makes it more likely that an anchor tenant could be attracted to the area. This form of development would also likely result in a higher amenity contribution, which would be put toward amenities in the area.”
“I think that this particular piece of the OCP is potentially one of the most challenging, but also exciting because we could see quite remarkable change there over several years,” said New Westminster City councillor Mary Trentadue to the New Westminster Record. “We have to keep reminding ourselves that this OCP will take us to 2040, which is a long way off. I think we are certainly going in the right direction.”
The objectives of the land use designations rely on integrating the high-rise future around the SkyTrain Station, providing an open neighbourhood atmosphere, and establishing a pedestrian-oriented area with limited commercial uses.
New Westminster City councillor Patrick Johnstone shared his concern for mobility with the New Westminster Record by noting that the Connaught Heights area surrounding 22nd SkyTrain Station is heavily dependent on vehicles for transport. With scarce sidewalks and fewer commercial spaces, a massive overhaul in the future might be needed to bring the SkyTrain station area into a new era.