When Edgar Developments breaks ground this fall on the first phase of its Portwood master-planned community, it will make a five-year design vision of a truly rare property, informed by a sense of place, become a reality. Located in Port Moody, Portwood is the transformation of a 1960s-era, 10-building, 23-acre rental property to a master-planned community of strata homes, market rentals and BC Housing rentals for a total of 2,300 residences when all phases of the project are completed. Beyond the unique mix of housing options, at the centre of Edgar Development’s conception for the project is retaining 70 per cent of the 23 acres as green space, which includes environmentally sensitive sites, parks, walking trails, and communal courtyards for the residences.
“It’s not every day that you come across a project with that open space and a developer that’s really committed to preserving it… the character and the ecological integrity of that open space, which is characterized by a lot of mature trees on site, of the water courses, the environmentally sensitive areas,” notes Derek Lee, landscape architect on the project and partner at PWL Partnership.
The property, Lee emphasizes, is not a gated community but a fully publicly accessible network of trails. Each housing phase has a perimeter trail that connects to the environmentally sensitive areas and to each of the residential sites.
“All these streets, laneways and trails are public, and they actually lead into these green courtyards, which are also public,” Lee says. “So whether you live in building one or building nine, or whatever, you can move through this community freely. I think that is kind of a spirit of this place, of Woodland Park, as it has existed historically. It’s always been this park-like arboretum-type space that people can just [move] through. That’s kind of the spirit of this design concept.”
The first phase of the project, composed of Umbra, the strata residence of 219 townhomes and condos, the market rentals, the BC Housing rentals, the childcare facility and retail amenities that include a grocery store, are all being constructed concurrently. From a community standpoint, Edgar is more than doubling the available rentals from the property’s original 200 homes to 466. The planning was carefully considered so that existing tenants wouldn’t be displaced, which is why the rentals are being built at the start of construction.
“It was very important to us from the onset not to have tenant displacement,” explains Matthew McClenaghan, senior vice-president of development at Edgar Development. “So we have phased the property in a way where we don’t have to have tenant displacement. We’ve partnered with BC Housing to develop a portion of the property. When that’s completed, we will move over any existing tenants into that BC Housing area. So we’re building that upfront prior to the big bulk of homes towards the end of the property.”
Just as Lee’s landscape design embraces the natural, historical sense of place of the property, so does the architecture by incorporating certain finishes that integrate into the verdant setting. McClenaghan says the direction given to the architects at Acton Ostry Architects (AOA) was to “do something different,” which resulted in a fusion of West Coast Modern and Scandinavian styles.
“We’re on the West Coast,” he observes, recounting how he conveyed his ideas to AOA. “So let’s keep that theme but let’s introduce some architecture that we don’t typically see around here. The Scandinavian one, I think, is just a personal thing with me and Peter (Edgar, president of Edgar Development). We really like that type of architecture. It’s very clean. It’s very modern. We love the black siding, the black [frame] windows, that wood-carved look.”
A bonus of the Scandi-inspired peaked roofs is the vaulted ceilings in the living rooms on the top floor of the six-storey condo/townhome buildings. In addition to the common outdoor spaces, every unit has a patio or glass-framed balcony that amplifies the outdoor-indoor connection of the design.
The exterior’s modern, fusion esthetic translates to the interiors of the units, as imagined by interior designer Cristina Oberti. “She has a very thoughtful design, thoughtful floor plan, high level of finish,” McClenaghan notes.
The look is light, modern and elevated: think custom Italian kitchen cabinetry from the luxury modern retailer Inform Interiors, integrated appliances from the upmarket brand Fulgor Milano and generous stone backsplashes.
Bathrooms feature the same sleek cabinetry and boast shower niches and recessed medicine cabinets.
One design detail McClenaghan appreciates from the perspective of a father of three young children is the side-by-side laundry system in all the two- and three-bedroom residences. He says that’s standard for Edgar projects and in keeping with the overall vision of optimizing the functionality and comfort of the residences when creating homes for people.
Umbra at Portwood
Project Address: 1190 Cecile Drive, Port Moody
Project Scope: Part of the first phase of the Portwood master-planned community, Umbra is a collection of 47 ground floor, two-storey town homes, and 172 condos composed of one-, two- and three-bedroom residences spread over the top four flours of a six-storey building. Set within a 23-acres, when all five phases are completed including retail amenities, the community will retain 70 per cent green space of the whole property.
Developers: Edgar Developments
Architects: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Prices: One bedrooms, mid $500,000s; two bedrooms, low $800,000s; and townhomes starting at $1.1 million.
Sales centre: 1190 Cecile Drive, Port Moody
Sales centre hours: By appointment only via website
Sales phone: See the website for contact
Estimated completion: Summer 2026