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New Housing Regulations That Allow Between 3 and 6 Units on Single Family Properties Across BC

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Published February 10, 2024

Full Article:

B.C.’s housing critic says there is more to think about before zoning rules can truly change the housing landscape in the province.

Karin Kirkpatrick, MLA for West Vancouver Capilano, says changes to help neighbourhoods densify quickly must be implemented strategically, or there is a risk of newer issues.

“If you’re going to start to go from single families to fourplexes or sixplexes in areas that are far away from transit that don’t have the proper infrastructure, it’s going to be problemetic. They’re going to have to upgrade electrical (and) sewer,” she says.

Last November, the province announced it would fix the “outdated zoning rules” that limited new housing being built in the form of condos or single-family homes. The amendment would allow people to build more small-scale housing units, like townhomes, triplexes, and laneway homes across the province.

“It’s going to allow for young families to have access to homes with a backyard, a third bedroom — that currently is limited to two-bedroom condos — or upgrade to a single-family house. This will provide a significant opportunity for residents in our community,” Bill Laidler with Laidler Development told CityNews.

These zoning rules were meant to make it easier for homeowners and buyers to get into the housing market. But if municipalities failed to meet the June 30 deadline, the province says it will be rubber-stamping building applications outside of unique circumstances.

“Things like steep slopes or unstable ground, something like a feasibility concern, then there are some options for cities to delay. Otherwise, the province is going to step in and implement them for each city,” Laidler said.

Interview with Michael Williams
Aired Every 30 mins on CityNews 1130

Listen to the Full Segment

Highlight 1:

Historic zoning changes are just months away from taking effect across this province. But one expert points out the challenges that come with building more homes faster. 

Bill Laidler is with Laidler Development and he believes these new zoning rules announced in November, which will allow property owners to increase housing density on their land, will open lots of doors for people looking to get into the market or for those already in it, whether that be affordability or options. But it will come with obstacles. 

“What's going to happen with the road infrastructure? How will the existing city services handle the increased population? And has each community really had a chance to think about what areas of their city they want to have these multiplexes?” 

Now, if all goes according to plan, June 30th is when municipalities will start allowing the vast majority of property owners to build at a minimum fourplexes. The province has estimated these changes may generate more than 130,000 new small scale multi-unit homes over the next decade. 

Michael Williams, CityNews.

Highlight 2:

You might start seeing a lot of new faces in your neighborhood soon, along with new with new B.C. wide zoning rules set to take effect this summer. But buyers, builders and developers still have more questions than answers.

“This is the boldest regulatory change we've seen in real estate.” That's Bill Laidler with Laidler Development. He says these zoning changes announced in November will soon allow lots larger than 3,000 square feet to build a fourplex. And if your property is within 400 meters of transit, you can build a sixplex. But Laidler adds, there are loads of questions that still need to be answered before June 30th.

“The biggest question that we're waiting to hear from each city is how large of a multiplex will be approved. What are the sizes of the buildings going to be and will cities allow them to be stratified for sale or will they be secured as rental?” 

Now, if municipalities don't meet the June deadline, the province will rubber stamp the process.

Michael Williams, CityNews.

Highlight 3:

B.C.’s Historic zoning changes take effect this summer, allowing more homes to be built faster. One expert says this will give you more options, while making housing more affordable. 

“Overall, the average price points to drop for Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.” That's Bill Laidler with Laidler Development. He says the new zoning rules enabling the majority of property owners in Metro Vancouver to build more homes on their land, is likely to lead to price decreases.

And that's because of the introduction of a new product in the market at a lower price point. But Laidler adds, that doesn't mean it will be necessarily cheaper to buy a house.

“And it may cause some single family homes with development potential to increase in value, especially older, single family homes on larger lots.” 

Now, if all goes according to plan effective June 30th, many property owners with lots bigger than 3,000 square feet will be able to build at a minimum, fourplexes. 

Michael Williams CityNews.

By Michael Williams
Published February 6, 2024

Full Article: 

You may see more people in your neighbourhood in the near future, with historic zoning changes poised to take effect this summer across B.C., ushering in a new era of housing opportunities.

The legislative amendments, scheduled for implementation on June 30, aim to address housing challenges and create diverse options for both prospective and existing homeowners.

One expert and local developer believes these news changes, which will allow the vast majority of property owners to increase housing density on their land, will achieve exactly what the province set out to do in the first place: create more options faster for those looking to get into the housing market and for those already in it.

“It’s going to allow for young families to have access to homes with a backyard, a third bedroom — that currently is limited to two-bedroom condos — or upgrade to a single-family house. This will provide a significant opportunity for residents in our community,” ​Bill Laidler with Laidler Development told CityNews.

“This is the boldest regulatory change we’ve seen in real estate.”

The anticipated impact extends beyond increased housing options, with Laidler predicting a potential boost in the value of single-family homes, particularly older ones on larger lots, due to the newfound development potential.

Drawing parallels from a UBC study on Auckland, New Zealand, where similar changes were implemented in 2016, Laidler speculates that the influx of new housing options could lead to a drop in the average price-point in the Lower Mainland. 

“Homeowners may benefit, new buyers may benefit,” he said.

The looming changes mandate every municipality in the Lower Mainland and most areas within municipalities of over 5,000 people throughout B.C. to allow, at a minimum, four-plexes up to three stories tall on lots currently zoned for single-family or duplex use (larger than 3,014 square feet). For larger lots or those within 400 meters of a frequent transit network, six units can be built.

The province estimates that these changes could result in over 130,000 new small-scale, multi-unit homes over the next decade.

Questions remain

While the transformative potential of these changes is evident, questions still linger about the specifics and potential challenges. Laidler raises concerns about the sizes of the buildings, their potential for stratification, or being secured as rentals.

“What are the sizes of the buildings going to be? And will cities allow them to be stratified for sale? Or will they be secured as rental?” Laidler asked.

Additionally, the impact on infrastructure, the shift from car reliance to public transit, and the ability of existing city services to handle increased populations pose challenges that need careful consideration.

“The regulations are moving very fast, and it will be interesting to see whether the cities are able to maintain service levels at the same speed the housing is going to be approved,” Laidler said.

What happens after implementation?
As municipalities gear up to meet the June 30 deadline for implementation, developers and builders face uncertainties that may delay their readiness to seize the new opportunities, Laidler says. He suggests that confidence in the marketplace will take time to build, given the unknowns surrounding the zoning bylaws.

“We have to wait until June 30th, because there are still too many unknowns right now for developers to be able to confidently purchase land and know exactly what we can do with it, and what we can build,” he explained.

“There’s going to be a delay from when these zoning bylaws are adopted in June, and when there will be confidence in the marketplace for developers and builders to purchase properties.”

Moreover, post-June 30, if municipalities fail to implement the changes, the province could step in and appoint someone to oversee the process, emphasizing the urgency of adapting to the evolving housing landscape while ensuring community safety.

“Things like steep slopes or unstable ground, something like a feasibility concern, then there are some options for cities to delay. Otherwise, the province is going to step in and implement them for each city,” Laidler said.

By Gordon McIntyre
Published Aug 25, 2023

Full Article: 

When the province declared Port Moody one of 10 “naughty” municipalities when it comes to housing, the city’s mayor greeted the news with a told-you-so.

Her community not only had an anti-density mayor and city council from 2018 to 2022, the population of the city, 35,500, also didn’t grow at all from 2016 to 2021, according to Statistics Canada. It wasn’t a rounding-down number, it was 0.0 per cent growth.


“I was not surprised at all to be part of the province’s list,” Mayor Meghan Lahti said.

Lahti feels the previous council’s anti-development platform only attracted unwanted attention from the provincial government.

“That (anti-development) kind of thinking, to me, sends a red flag to the province,” Lahti said. “The census data, some of the rhetoric coming out of some of the members of the previous council, put us on the radar big time.”

From the window behind the mayor’s desk farmers could be seen getting their stands ready for the weekly market in the parking lot that services the centrally located community centre, library, city hall and ice rinks. Across Ioco Road from city hall sits Newport Village, a dense patch of residential towers and shops.

To the west lay rows of townhouses; to the north sit $10-million homes with water views.

Bounded at the east end of Burrard Inlet by water, mountainsides, Burnaby and Coquitlam, and dissected by a highway and rail line, Port Moody faces some of the problems other waterfront municipalities do.

But it has an ace up its sleeve: A couple of SkyTrain stops around which to build density.

“This council is absolutely committed to bringing in housing,” Lahti said.

But not at any cost.

A microcosm of sentiment among Port Moody residents is a proposed seniors’ housing tower. About 150 people responded to the proposal: Those against the 15-storey tower are vehement in their opposition, and many of those in favour question whether the precedent-busting height of the proposed seniors’ highrise belongs in a neighbourhood of single-family detached homes and few amenities.

Council recently concurred and has hopes the developer comes back with scaled-down plans for the property at Mary and St. George streets.

But the developers — Avenir Senior Housing and Dulex Laidler Group — say they’ve already sunk as much money into revising plans to suit city concerns as they’re prepared to.

“That would be a challenge for us, it’s just gone on so long,” said Jason Craik, principal at Avenir. “I don’t think we have time to redesign.

“We saw Port Moody as a city that didn’t have seniors living and needed it badly, but we’re most likely going to look at another city to expand to.”

Bill Laidler, a local developer and lifelong Port Moody resident, was also dejected. An alum of Port Moody’s Gleneagle Secondary, the 35-year-old remembers when construction at Newport Village began when there weren’t even traffic lights.

“I remember even myself, back in high school, being upset that we had new traffic lights back in 2000,” he said. “But I want to see a range of housing, a range of options for residents.”

As he spoke, his field of vision from the rooftop of his office building extending to Burrard Inlet, he wondered what new developments might impede the water view he was enjoying.

“We’re a small city and we really like our lives here,” Laidler said. “Whenever there’s change people wonder whether that lifestyle will be affected in any way.”

Port Moody has done a lot right, says Andy Yan, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University.

“Let’s begin with the good news,” Yan said. “The good news is that if you look at the southern half of Port Moody, particularly the areas around the SkyTrain stations, those are really excellent examples of what suburban development could be like.”

That’s one side of the coin.

“But Port Moody has two halves in terms of population growth,” Yan said. “Take Newport Village and flip that around and you see the major challenges on the north side of the municipality.”

As you drive along Ioco Road along that north lip of the inlet you pass homes that could be three-unit townhouses in Kits or a six-room apartment building in North Vancouver.

“That side of the inlet has actually lost population,” Yan said.

To those against building more housing until transportation is improved, the neighbourhood development expert wondered just what those folks have in mind when they say transportation.

“When they say better transportation, do they mean public transit?” Yan said. “Or do they mean cars?

“I think that’s the problem, they mean cars.”

The mayor points to five more “major” developments, in various stages of planning, that are in the works.

“I’m going to do exactly what I said I’d do,” Lahti said. “Listen to concerns, mitigate impacts to the community so the community gains most from it.

“This council is absolutely committed to bringing in housing. The issue is we don’t know how much (the province) wants, but we’ll build as much housing as we can.”

By Diane Strandberg
Published May 3, 2022

Full Article: 

A four-bedroom home sold for 50 per cent more than the listed price this week in a property sale that may have set another record in Coquitlam.

While the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) says springs sales activity is easing down from the record-breaking pace of the last year, in some areas, sellers are still getting multiple offers.

On Monday (May 2), a 2,200 sq-ft. home in a cul-de-sac in Coquitlam's Cape Horn neighbourhood sold for $1.5 million. The house at 128 San Antonio Pl. was originally listed for $999,000 and sold within eight days, according to

The 25-year-old home included a small basement suite and a north-facing back yard.

A Tri-City real estate veteran speculates the house was priced to get multiple offers, but high demand for detached homes for under $1.5 million may have prompted the higher offer.

"It's been normal for properties to sell over asking since the start of COVID-19," said Bill Laidler, a former realtor who now mentors real estate agents for the Laidler Group.

"Low interest rates and low inventory caused by sellers cautious about moving during the pandemic caused the market to inflate," he said.

Townhouses would help ease housing crunch

Laidler adds there is high demand but low inventory of ground-oriented housing, such as townhouses, which are more affordable for families.

There is a need for so called "missing middle" housing that is not condos nor traditional single family homes on large lots, he said.

Instead, Laidler thinks Coquitlam should look at approving more townhouses in established single-family neighbourhoods, close to schools, transit and other amenities, where families can raise their children.

"You get a front door, a garage and a yard," he said, adding he'd like to see the issue of densifying for townhouses brought up in the upcoming Oct. 15 civic election.

Laidler is president of Laidler Development Lands Ltd., and a mentor with the Laidler Group - RE/MAX Sabre Realty, according to his profile.

There could be other reasons the Cape Horn home sold for so much more than its original listing, he said, believing a lack of comparable home sales may have also been reflected in the higher price.

The most recent sale for a similar home in the neighbourhood was in 2020, when a house at 130 San Antonio Pl. sold for $1.07 million in August 2020.

"The market has gone up about 40 per cent in the last 18 months, the city has to do more for housing for families," Laidler said.

In another recent sale for the record books, a Coquitlam home with heated pool sold $500K over asking after multiple offers in a single day.

By Mario Bartel
Published April 19, 2022

Full Article: 

Just weeks after Port Moody council approved an effort to solicit expressions of interest from private developers to construct a new Kyle Centre along with seniors housing in conjunction with new market housing, a Vancouver Island company is pitching a 188-unit senior complex nearby.

Tonight (April 19) council will get its first look at a pre-development application by Avenir Senior Housing that would be comprised of a 14-storey tower atop a five- or six-storey podium at the corner of Mary and St. George streets.

The company is nearing completion of a similar nine-storey project in Esquimalt and it also operates the Astoria Retirement Residence in Port Coquitlam, as well as the Pacifica in White Rock.

The Port Moody facility would feature

  • 100 full-service independent and assisted living units
  • 42 units for residents requiring complex care
  • 46 privately owned condos on the upper five floors 

An indoor/outdoor amenity space would be located on the fifth floor.


In a letter to council, Avenir principal Jason Craik said the facility would allow residents “to transition from their current residence to a retirement community that can provide for all their needs now and into the future, without the prospect of an additional move.”

He added the lifestyle being offered would “be at or exceed many five-star hotels.”

However, Port Moody senior planner Kevin Jones cautions in a report that the proposed mix of units may not meet the needs of seniors with low or moderate income levels.

“Further consideration will be needed in relation to the affordability and the potential provision of the affordable unit programming,” Jones said in his report, adding the project has the potential to create about 80 full- and part-time jobs.

It’s also a “significant departure” from the heights and density currently permitted in the neighbourhood which is zoned for single detached and medium density townhouse residential use that allows up to three storeys.

As well, the project would require an amendment to the city’s official community plan.

Jones said the project’s size could have an impact on the surrounding neighbourhood that would “have to be carefully considered.”

Some of those considerations include how the tower’s shadow would fall on nearby homes and a three-storey apartment building immediately to the south, as well as Kyle Park to the west.

Avenir’s partner in the proposed project is local developer Dulex Laidler Group.

Two years ago Bill Laidler pitched the possibility of constructing a new Kyle Centre in exchange for council’s consideration of a residential project much denser than a six-storey rental building he was proposing to build right across from the aging facility that was built in 1973.

A 2020 engineering report said the community centre, which hosts seniors activities, arts and recreation programs and was used as an extreme weather shelter for the homeless last winter, requires more than $2.5 million in repairs.

By  Mario Bartel
Published March 23, 2022

Full Article:

Port Moody will solicit expressions of interest from developers to build the city a new Kyle Centre, along with seniors housing.

Although Mayor Rob Vagramov says such a project will also likely come with market housing in a three- to six-storey development and could take five to 10 years to be realized.

In the meantime, staff is going to determine current costs for repairs to the existing community facility that’s fallen into disrepair with tarps covering sections of the roof and deteriorating siding among several problems identified in a 2020 assessment by a Burnaby engineering company. They’ll also put together estimates for various options of repair.

Tuesday, Coun. Steve Milani pitched his idea the city spend $2.5 million to make the necessary repairs and consider design modifications that would allow the 44-year-old centre to be expanded by 10,000 sq. ft. in the future.

He said Kyle Centre has been “left to fend for itself far too long. It’s crying out for help.”

Milani said while another study in 2013 determined the centre is structurally and functionally sound, years of inattention to its upkeep has exacted a toll on its exterior, such as failing skylights, corroded doors and a storage room that’s leaking so badly it’s been sealed off as a safety hazard.

Meanwhile, he added, demand for community space in the surrounding Moody Centre neighbourhood is only growing as new housing is built.

But several councillors expressed concern the estimated $2.5 million repair bill cited by the 2020 study is already out of date as costs of construction and materials have soared since.

“This has been postponed for a long time, but if we’re going to go ahead we need some cost certainty,” said Coun. Zoe Royer.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said with a “few million of investment” to repair the building now, it could continue to serve the community for years to come, or become the core of any refurbishment and expansion.

“I’m not prepared to look at the neglect of that building for another year,” he said. “We have to stop treating it like something that has got to go.”

But Coun. Diana Dilworth said the city should proceed cautiously, especially if a developer comes forward with a plan that includes a new facility.

“I would support some outer repairs and roof repairs until we can talk further about other potential opportunities,” she said. “We have an opportunity to leverage that land.”

Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed.

“Moody Centre deserves a vibrant new centre, but they also deserve a Kyle Centre that works now and for the future.”

But, she added, “We need to make sure the building is usable in the interim.”

Milani said time is of the essence.

“We’re almost a year past the cut-off date when things should have been done,” he said, referring to recommendations in the 2020 engineering report.

“The urgency is before the weather gets bad. Let’s get a roof up.”

City manager Tim Savoie said staff will report back to council as soon as possible with an estimate of what it will cost to get an updated price for the needed repairs, then go from there.

In the meantime, said Vagramov, the city will see what private developers might be able to bring to the table.

“I doubt the longterm future of Kyle Centre includes the building that’s there today.”

Two years ago, Tri-City developer Bill Laidler presented the possibility of rebuilding Kyle Centre in exchange for council’s consideration of a residential project much denser than a six-storey rental building with 148 units he was proposing for a property on St. George Street, right across from the community facility.

Conceptual drawings showed a raised concrete plaza surrounding a refurbished Kyle Centre that could be a venue for community events and art exhibits while cars parked on the lower level.

“The opportunity is in front of us now,” Laidler said.

But several councillors expressed reservations about allowing dense development in the neighbourhood comprised mostly of single-family homes.

By Mario Bartel 
Published Mar 9, 2022

Full Article: 

Is an 88-unit condo building across from Moody Middle School a way forward to easing Port Moody’s affordable housing crisis?

Or is it a dangerous precedent that will spark the transformation of a quiet neighbourhood of single-family homes into a dense collection of similar six-storey structures?

Tuesday, a majority of Port Moody councillors decided it’s the former and approved the project by former local realtor Bill Laidler, although they also added a proviso the developer commit to making the structure more energy-efficient.

Only Coun. Diana Dilworth voted against it.

The decision came after a protracted public hearing that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.

Most speakers endorsed the project, set to be built on two properties at 148 and 154 James Rd.

They said its collection of 35 small studio apartments and 29 one-bedroom units, along with 19 two-bedroom units and five with three bedrooms, will give young professionals and families an opportunity to buy a home in the city, or rent one of the 26 dwellings that will be available at below market rates for the next 20 years.

But some suggested the location across from the school would be more appropriate for family-oriented townhomes and the project’s approval sets the stage for larger, more dense development in the neighbourhood.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said Laidler’s last-minute offer to double the project’s affordable housing component from 13 units “is a real breakthrough” that assuages many of his concerns, including its 900-metre distance from the nearest SkyTrain station as well its density.

“The city really needs affordability,” he said.

But, Madsen added, “We need to look at what we could do as a city to make that block more of a community space.”

Coun. Steve Milani agreed, saying, “That whole street may fall into that type of build.”

Coun. Zoe Royer urged her colleagues to “look at every application on its own merits,” and where some may see a dense development of small apartments, others might see “a whole new beginning” for people looking to plant roots into the city.

“This is just going to be part of the housing continuum.”

Earlier, Laidler told council the project had evolved for the better since he pitched it as a 111-unit building with 57 micro-suites — as small as 299 sq. ft.

His partner on the project, builder Sasha Rasovic, said, “We do believe we’ve hit a home run.”

But Dilworth countered it felt more like a swing and a miss that’s neglected several elements council has demanded from other developers, like daycare and job spaces as well as environmental sustainability.

“Affordability is a priority, but it can’t be at the expense of the standards we’ve set for other developments,” she said.

By Mario Bartel
Published April 22, 2021

Full Article: 

Are micro-suites part of the housing affordability solution, or a contributor to the problem?

That’s the question several Port Moody councillors are wrestling with as they consider a development proposal for a six-storey condo complex on James Road that includes 57 little units that range from 300 to 392 sq. ft.

The project, by Port Moody realtor Bill Laidler, would be comprised of a total of 111 units, of which 11 would be fully accessible with wider hallways, adjustable countertops and roll-in showers. The developer said he’d also set aside 15% of the units to be part of a rent-to-own program that will allow owners to put rent that they pay for the first two years of occupancy toward a down payment.

But it’s Laidler’s pitch for tiny studio spaces that caught most councillors’ attention at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.

He told councillors the small units, designed with “smart” features like stowaway storage and adjustable furniture that maximize the use of available space, are “a solution to a housing gap in our community.”

Laidler said young professionals and recent grads are challenged to get into the housing market. Even rents are getting out of reach.


“Where are the medium-income earners in our community living?” he asked. “They’re living with their parents and in shared housing.”

Laidler said that realization motivated him to modify his original plans for the condo project, essentially cutting in half many of the 64 units he first envisioned to create independent micro-suites that will likely sell for $350,000 to $400,000.

But several councillors expressed concern the units are more likely to attract investors who would then rent them at inflated rates rather than first-time buyers looking to establish roots.

Coun. Meghan Lahti said micro-suites are more suited to “dense, urban settings where people have access to a wide range of amenities,” adding the location for the proposed project — next to Moody middle school — is too far from either the Moody Centre or Inlet SkyTrain stations to attract residents eager to live a car-free lifestyle.

“Unless the placement of these spaces is done correctly, they can fall into squalor,” she said.

Lahti added such small living spaces are also becoming problematic as people ponder a post-pandemic future in which more of them will be working from home.

Coun. Amy Lubik agreed, saying the project’s location isn’t appropriate.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said Laidler’s plan for several indoor amenity rooms as well as an expansive rooftop deck aren’t enough to offset the project’s density.

“Where are all these people going to go?” she asked. “The trade-offs and benefits of this one aren’t worth it.”

But Coun. Steve Milani lauded the idea of micro-suites coming to Port Moody. He said they bring foot traffic and customers to local businesses, restaurants and cafés. “I lived in a micro-suite,” he said. “I kind of liked them.”

Mayor Rob Vagramov agreed with Laidler’s contention the small units would be attractive to young buyers. “Not every developer is going to bring something for families,” he said. “Young folks need places to live too.”

While a majority of council ultimately gave first reading to zoning bylaw amendments that will be required for the project to proceed, Vagramov said he also wants some assurance from the developer that units won’t end up in the hands of speculators if it’s to be ultimately approved.

Meanwhile, a six-storey rental project to be located on St. Johns Street, just east of the police headquarters, will go to a public hearing, despite some councillors’ reservations about the effect the 197-unit complex might have on neighbouring townhouses along St. George Street.

Lahti said the benefits the mixed-use project will bring to the community, including a non-profit daycare to be operated by the YMCA as well as a commitment by the developer to make six units available at non-market rents, outweigh any concerns.

“We need the non-profit daycare in Port Moody,” she said. “I think it’s a good fit.”

By Stefan Labbé

Full Article: 

A sea lion research station that lost its animals to the Vancouver Aquarium due to funding cuts is inching closer to re-opening after the city of Port Moody and several residents banded together to try and save it.

Following an $18,000 dollar donation from local realtors and on-going support from researchers and concerned citizens, the Salish Sea Research and Education Society officially launched in June. 

The society managed to hang on to one of the pinniped pens and a floating work shed, a section of the research station once made up of several structures built atop docks.

But the funds it has already secured are going fast as costs associated with engineering surveys, towage fees, insurance and safety signage pile up.

The repurposed facility could house a variety of fish or even harbour seals as part of the dual education and research goals of the new managers, said Andrew Trites, former head of the station and current director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit.

“Port Moody is an area where you’re very close to nature. But it’s very easy for people to lose sight of it,” said Trites.

“Having a base like that gives a chance for kids in Port Moody to get on the water and see marine life.”

The transition comes at a time when many districts are looking for ways to get into line with the province’s guidelines for “learning groups.” Teaching students outside the four walls of a classroom could ease the anxieties around COVID-19 and offer an unmatched learning experience, say proponents of the facility.

“If people get to learn about it, experience it and cherish it, they’ll do more to protect it,” said Trites.

Dave Rosen, who for years has carried out research at the station in his dual role at UBC and the Vancouver Aquarium, said the new centre will likely incorporate marine mammal research as some “part of the game plan” going forward. 

But restructuring the research centre also offers a chance to rejig its research priorities, from past work looking to inform conservation off Alaska to more localized concerns.

That could include building insights into the food chain connecting salmon and southern resident orcas, or harbour seals and the transient killer whale families that have been known to hunt off Port Moody. 

“There’s a lot of debate about how much development — like housing, industry — all impact the marine environment,” said Rosen. “We’ve got choices to make.” 

Who guides where research, education and conservation will go at the new centre is set to change too. Board member Melissa Chaun has been in contact with the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and is looking to use their Burrard Inlet Action Plan as a template to guide research priorities. 

That plan identifies several pressures on the Burrard Inlet’s ecosystem, including sediment contamination and the destruction of shellfish beds that have prevented the First Nation from harvesting since 1972.

Another idea is to act as a kind of Port Moody outpost for the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre. At the same time, Chaun is looking to a future where groups of school students could rotate between shoreline tours, an on-site touch tank that lets you get up close to sea life, and an excursion on Tsleil-Waututh's big canoe that Takaya Tours now uses to guide cultural trips around the inlet. 

The plan is to get the whole community involved, from researchers at the region’s universities and colleges to local students and residents. 

“It’s important, with the pandemic not over, to get people involved in some of the most important issues of our day, like climate change,” said Chaun. “If we can come together in positive ways that will really help the community as a whole, I think it’s really important for people.”

Whereas off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre has served as a research and education base for Western Canada’s biggest universities — including UBC, SFU, UVIC, as well as the universities of Alberta and Calgary — the Port Moody facility could offer a more accessible learning hub, said Chaun.

“Bamfield is a really remote place—there’s a lot of people that won’t be able to access it,” said Chaun.

Exactly where on the Port Moody waterfront the new research station will live is an open question.

For the interim, the city of Port Moody has helped secure approval from the Vancouver Port Authority to temporarily dock the facility near Reed Point Marina. But Chaun said the long-term plan to build up the facility as a world-class station would require a sheltered location, both protected from winter wind and waves and close enough that people can access it. 

One such site could be off Rocky Point Park or along the adjacent shoreline near the Moody Centre SkyTrain station, said Bill Laidler, chair of Salish Sea Research and Education Society.

But as costs mount, the group said it has no time to wait, and it has begun fundraising to help cover such costs as Department of Fisheries and Oceans permits to allow for live touch tanks, as well as a COVID-19 health and safety plan that meets provincial and municipal guidelines. 

The group is now looking to raise $50,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to refurbish the floating sea lion pen into marine education centre open on evenings and weekends to begin with, and private school tours once the current pandemic subsides.


“This is just a springboard for a long-term, permanent ocean centre,” said Chaun.

Mario Bartel

Port Moody realtor Bill Laidler aims to help his clients achieve their home ownership dreams. But when one of his clients recently had to sell their home because of debt accumulated as a family member coped with illness, he thought there has to be a better way.

So Laidler created the Port Moody Community Society to help residents navigate a short-term financial crisis without having to sacrifice their home.

A member of the Port Moody Foundation’s board of directors, Laidler is intimately familiar with the community’s sense of caring. But the foundation’s charter limits its ability to help to donations to established organizations rather than individuals.

Laidler said the new society, which is being formally launched at a block party celebration Saturday, Aug. 31 at Brewers Row, will deal with applicants seeking assistance one-on-one, working with banks to arrange short-term, interest-free loans and increase their chance for a successful outcome.

That outcome could range from getting through a credit card crunch to saving their home, Laidler said.

“We want to give people time to restructure their debt,” he said. “It could just help them get on their way.”

Sydney Van Alstyne has been there, done that.

Or at least many of her millennial peers have. She said with the local housing market so expensive, a slight hiccup like illness in the family, an overextended credit card or temporary loss of income can be a financial death blow.

The society’s help, she said, will be more like an investment, ensuring more people will be able to stay in the community or keep their local business afloat.

“This will be a really close-to-home society,” said Van Alstyne, who’s working with Laidler to get the initiative off the ground and funded.

Laidler said the society won’t function as a charity that might be able to provide a financial bandage to a difficult situation; rather, it will try to help people wrestle the root of their predicament, giving them a footing from which to move forward.

And that’s good for the community as a whole, he said, adding, “It’s a bridge.”

• The summer block concert to benefit the new Port Moody Community Society will be held from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday at 2713 Murray St. It will feature a beer garden sponsored by the Port Moody Foundation, the Taps & Tacos food truck, and live music. For tickets and more information go to

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