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City Cracking Down on Developers

Blog by Rebecca Permack | January 20th, 2012

A builder who was issued with a stop-work order by the city of Coquitlam last month while constructing a show home on Burke Mountain is expected to meet with city staff this week. 

Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam’s general manager of planning and development, said the show home was being built without a permit and, to compound matters, in an unserviced subdivision.

Coquitlam’s building bylaw states show homes cannot go up until a new subdivision is substantially finished — that is, with roads, curbs, gutters and other necessary amenities.

McIntyre, who declined to name the builder, said the problem came to light in the week after Christmas, when city inspectors were on Burke and looking at siltation runoff in the area.

McIntyre said city managers also plan to meet with other Burke builders in the near future to review regulations from Metro Vancouver municipalities about the timing of show home construction. If changes are needed, Coquitlam managers and council will consider clarifying the city’s building policy.

“The issue is not about show homes, there will always be show homes,” city manager Peter Steblin stressed at Monday’s council-in-committee, when the topic was raised afterwards by Coun. Terry O’Neill. “It’s when you allow them to be built, how far in advance related to the road construction?

 “Can you build a house without sewers in front of it? What is the state of the surface in front of it? All of those issues we are looking at and, in this particular case, we believe builders are becoming a bit more aggressive than they were historically or what our policy allows... and that’s related to the overall economic situation.”

The spring is typically a good time to sell homes and builders want to get their product on the market as soon as possible, Steblin said.

But Bill Susak, Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works, said builders are putting stress on the environmentally sensitive mountain when they build on unserviced lots, and there are no municipal side protections for siltation runoff.

Mayor Richard Stewart said the city needs to strike a balance between the builders’ wants and the city’s responsibilities to safeguard the public from environmental hazards.

The city is planning a community of 20,000 more residents in five new neighbourhoods on Burke Mountain over the next 20 years. The neighbourhoods are called Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek, Smiling Creek, Partington Creek and Hazel Drive.

The city has yet to complete the neighbourhood plans for the latter two but construction is brisk in the first three (at the Jan. 30 public hearing, three of the eight rezoning bids to be considered pertain to Burke housing developments).

Courtesy: The Tri-City News