350-366 Fenton Street
As part of its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, New Westminster City Council resolved to leverage City resources to secure development of below- and non-market housing. This direction is in response to the housing affordability crisis facing the city and region as a whole. One of the most direct ways that Council can deliver affordable housing options is to identify City-owned sites suitable for housing.
In October 2019, Council directed in principle the use of the City-owned properties at 350 to 362 Fenton Street in Queensborough. The City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting housing providers to describe how they would develop this site for affordable housing. Seven proposals were received in response, and in August 2020 Council endorsed in principle an earlier proposal received from Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS) for the Queensborough site. An original concept with a three-storey building and one level of underground parking was proposed; however, a subsequent preliminary geotechnical investigation commissioned by VNHS revealed that the site could not support this scale of development.
In partnership with VNHS, the City has continued work on developing a non-market affordable housing project for Indigenous individuals on this site. Based on the new and immediate opportunity for Federal funding provided through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Rapid Housing Initiative Round Two, and updated site information on geotechnical construction technology, a modified project that meets the funding program requirements is proposed. The project team sought the advice of an independent geotechnical engineer, and their review – based on preliminary information – concluded that technical solutions exist that could work to address existing site constraints (namely construction using piles as the building foundation).
The newly-envisioned project would be situated on just over four of the nine City-owned lots along Fenton Street, and include 58-units for Indigenous individuals including providing spaces for women and children.
The concept includes a low-rise apartment building designed to the Flood Construction Level (FCL) necessary for construction in Queensborough, with at-grade parking and three levels of residential above. A central elevator would provide access to all floors and provide accessibility to the units. A mix of apartment sizes are proposed: studios, one, and two-bedroom units. An exterior common corridor is envisioned, which could also accommodate a table and chairs. Other common areas would include a common laundry and green space. Property management services, including a building maintenance worker, would occur, but there would not be 24/7 on-site supports, meals or medical services. The proponent is seeking to design to the Passive House standard and include a geothermal exchange.
Click here to see the concept drawings that have been prepared for the grant application, which was submitted in August 2021.
The sites are currently zoned “RQ-1 (Single Detached)” and a rezoning to accommodate a multi-unit apartment building form, up to three storeys in height (above the FCL), would be necessary. The proposed development would also require an amendment to the Queensborough Community Plan, which currently designates the site as RL (Residential Low Density), which states that the principle forms and uses are: “Single detached dwellings and duplexes. Single detached dwellings may also include a secondary suite.” A subdivision and consolidation of the sites would also be required.
The existing neighbourhood is typified by single detached dwellings with suites. Further to the south is Ewen Avenue, where a number of services and commercial uses are located. To the north, across Boyd Street, are industrial lands, along the Fraser River and Queensborough Landing shopping centre.
The August 2021 grant submission was for approximately $32 million, which is anticipated to be 100% of the construction cost required for this project. While the City would be the recipient of the funding, these dollars would largely flow through to VNHS to execute the development of the project. If the City is successful in the grant application, the majority of municipal costs associated with this project will be recovered. Some fees waived such as Development Cost Charges will require an alternate funding source.
Past Consultation on the Project
The City hosted a virtual information session in the summer of 2020 once the Small Sites Affordable Housing Initiative was announced (prior to VNHS being selected as the project operator). The purpose of the event was to provide an overview of the small-sites affordable housing initiative, the evaluation criteria that was developed to review the proposals, and the process to explore affordable housing on the site. A total of 15 community members joined the meeting.
Community consultation process for a previous iteration of the project was launched in fall 2020. The following is a summary of the community and stakeholder consultation that had been completed to date:
- Residents Association Consultation: VNHS organized a special meeting with the Queensborough Residents Association executive. Two members attended and provided feedback on the project.
- Stakeholder Consultation: Due to the required Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment, all First Nations with an interest in New Westminster, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the School District were identified as stakeholders and were invited to provide feedback on the proposal. At that time, support was received from Cowichan Tribes and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Tsleil-Waututh Nations also noted the possibility of archaeological deposits on the site and requested that the proponent follow archaeological and environmental best management practices, which VNHS had committed to doing.
- Project Webpage: Both the City and the applicant launched project webpages with details about the application. Click here to view the City's page. (The VNHS page includes information from the previous iteration of the project and is not up-to-date.)