Citing increased construction and development costs, members of the Beedie Group have asked for substantive changes to what will be Coquitlam's largest waterfront development.
Dave Gormley, Beedie's vice-president of land development, appeared before council in committee Monday asking for up to 1,000 additional units to be added to the Fraser Mills development in south Coquitlam.
And while there would be an increase in the number of units, the units themselves would be smaller, dropping in size to about 825 square feet from about 1,100 square feet.
The proposed changes would also translate into an additional 1,000 people living at the 89-acre site - a jump that would see between 8,000 to 9,000 living there as opposed to the original estimate of about 7,000 to 8,000 residents.
"Over the last couple of years, we've been monitoring the residential market conditions and we're discovering the average unit size is decreasing quite significantly over the last five to seven years," Gormley said, adding that, to make the various projects affordable, the unit sizes of each one are getting smaller.
Some councillors, however, don't see the development playing out in that fashion, suggesting market trends in Vancouver, Burnaby or Surrey - areas well served by transit - don't translate into the Coquitlam context.
"I'm having difficulty because this is not like Metrotown," said Coun. Mae Reid, a realtor by trade.
"This is not like the city centre in Vancouver, and this is not like Coquitlam Centre. In the city centres I expect the units can be smaller."
The majority of council wanted the Beedie proposal to be more flexible in order to allow a range of sizes that would accommodate all walks of life - retirees, singles, couples and families.
Seniors and young families in particular were singled out in that context of the discussion, with some councillors saying the transition from a large house to a smaller unit would be difficult to make.
"It's impossible for [seniors] to go from a 4,000-square-foot house to a 700-square-foot apartment," said Coun. Selina Robinson.
Gormley noted his group may not need all of the 1,000 proposed units, but presented that number to council so they won't have to come back before council to re-instigate a separate amendment process.
"When I come down to making a decision, I'm going to want the number to be a lot more precise," said Coun. Neal Nicholson.
"If we were dealing with it today, I'd have the feeling that I was writing a blank cheque and I'm not sure what I'm going to get come the end of the day."
Monday's debate was meant for feedback and discussion only. City staff will now take council's feedback and report back at some point early in the new year.
Mayor Richard Stewart was absent from Monday's meeting.