What appeared to be a healthy share of consternation changed to a sense of acceptance Monday, as Port Coquitlam council moved a large-scale shopping complex one step closer to reality.
Council voted 5-1 in favour of a third bylaw reading to pave the way for a shopping centre development at 1991 Lougheed Hwy (at Oxford Street).
Proposed by Platform Properties, the development is still in its infancy and it's not known exactly which retailers would be located in the complex.
City staff are estimating about 45,000 square feet of retail space would be spread over four buildings in the development, which was the home of a used car dealership up until two and a half years ago.
Platform principal Kyle Shurry said his group is in talks with a grocery retailer, which would serve as the "anchor business" for the entire site, but could not confirm what types of other businesses would call the site home.
"We would love to be in a position to handpick our tenants," he said. "But unfortunately that's not the current reality of our marketplace. What we can give you some assurance on, is that we will work extremely hard to deliver you a quality development on a high-profile corner that will help attract new business and act as an anchor for the immediate neighbourhood."
Previously, concerns were flagged by both residents and council members around a number of points pertaining to the site: access and egress, market viability, how the development would impact businesses in the downtown and on the north side and the inclusion of up to 10,000 square feet of personal and health services uses - pharmacies, for example.
The proposal was the subject of a public hearing prior to council deliberating on whether to move it ahead in the bylaw process, and few, if any, of those fears were expressed.
Though one resident voiced his opposition to the plan, seven others spoke in favour of the project and suggested the new mall would offer a multitude of benefits to the neighbourhood: increased property values, improved commuting times, less congestion, job growth and an esthetic improvement.
"I think we've heard loud and clear from the neighbourhood that they view this as a very positive enhancement to that neighbourhood," said Coun. Brad West.
Those points were not enough to sway Coun. Dean Washington, who argued the city should not approve the proposal until it knows the full economic impact of expansion in the Dominion Triangle.
"Is it going to enhance the neighbourhood? Maybe. But there's a Safeway directly across the street," he said.
Mayor Greg Moore was absent from Monday's meeting.
Fourth and final reading of the bylaw is expected to take place in June.