Referendum anyone? — Open letter from resident

Open letter from Moody Centre resident, March 15, 2014

Dear Port Moody residents, council and staff.

I am very concerned about the current OCP that has been put forward to residents.  Public input was ignored and we have been misled to believe council has listened to residents.  Simply removing height restriction numbers does not impress me.  It is for these reasons council should put the OCP to a citywide referendum and allow residents to decide.  The OCP is a flawed process from the beginning.  Council and staff misinformed residents we could not hold a referendum on the OCP when the LGA clearly states that we can have a referendum on almost any issue that affects residents.

After reading the LGA and being told repeatedly by council and staff there was “no legal provision” to hold a referendum, I contacted Cathy LeBlanc at the Ministry of Intergovernmental Relations and Planning Branch.  Mrs. LeBlanc confirmed the City could hold a referendum on the OCP. On December 12/2013 I forwarded Cathy LeBlanc”s correspondence to council and staff and my Email was ignored.  I reached out to council and staff again on January 6/2014 and finally I got an email from Mike Clay confirming we could possibly have a referendum on the OCP.  Mayor Clay told me “that council may decide to put a referendum question to the voters at some point.”  This was a complete turnaround from a few months earlier.  To Mayor Mike Clays credit, he was the ONLY Councilor to correspond with me on my concerns and I thank him for this.  Unfortunately, some Councilors and staff still denied the fact and even continued posting false rhetoric on Pomo websites that misled residents contrary to the LGA.

It is inconceivable 7 council members near the end of the term are going to push through one of the largest game changers Port Moody has ever faced in its history without going to a city wide vote.  Is the City afraid to have a referendum on the OCP?  I highly doubt a majority of residents would approve such massive population growth.  Council will tell residents a referendum is not legally binding but history tells us that from fire halls, casinos and neighbourhoods 2/3, there has never been a referendum not honoured by past councils in the entire history of Port Moody politics.

Council has also failed to address the traffic congestion the proposed OCP will worsen.  Massive population growth in Heritage Mountain and Newport areas was based on a plan to build the Murray connector.  Councils flip flop on that plan is a disaster for Moody Centre residents and the traffic and pollution nightmare this has caused.  Evidently, Port Moody council and staff appear unable to follow a long term plan so why should we trust council to solve problems that already exist from rapid population growth?

The P1 land and Kyle Centre is still potentially on the chopping block.  It is wrong to remove any P1 public land from reserves and sell to a private developer without holding a referendum.  This is clearly stated in the LGA and I will hold future councils accountable if the issue arises.  While council can give themselves a 29% pay increase, build powering stations for staff vehicles, expand Arts centres and put roofs over out door lacrosse boxes, Kyle Centre sits rotting in need of some paint and a new roof.  Why did council and staff place the Kyle Centre and adjacent green space on the OCP as mixed commercial residential use at the last minute?  What is councils intent?  We should be preserving P1 land for recreation purposes not 6 storey condos.

There should also be no building higher than 4 storeys along the North side and 3 storeys on the South side along St. Johns St.  Why should the rules be changed just so developers can make more profit at residents liveability and expense?  The claim developers make no money building 3 or 4 storey buildings is simply untrue.  In my neighbourhood developers are buying a single lot, tearing down a perfectly good house and building a monster house and still making a tidy profit.  Developers just want more profit and I am afraid greed is directing the path of the OCP.

Another concern that is not mentioned in the OCP is schools.  The School District will be selling off the Moody Elementary land.  With the vast changes to the OCP and population growth it is projecting where are future generations going to attend school?  Will Moody Elementary be the first casualty of the current councils pro development OCP?

This is not a visioning document by the people.  It appears council and staffs vision is to increase government size, wages and development.  If the OCP is implemented we will surely out grow City Hall, Rocky Point Park, and other public facilities.  Liveability will diminish.  Crime and homelessness will rise dramatically.  Our taxes, already out of control with some of the highest increases in the lower mainland, will increase exponentially with the massive population growth proposed.  Taxes so high eventually many long term residents and seniors will be unable to remain in the City they helped build.  We will choke in traffic, pollution and noise.  Skyscrapers will take our privacy and views away.  Rock Point Park will be jam packed on a nice summers day.  I believe we do not need to be cookie cut into “districts” and the Mill and Timber site should be made into a water front extension of Rocky Point Park and Canada trail with the South half reserved for a Granville Island style business area accessible to everyone.

For these reasons I am now strictly opposed to the OCP more so than before. Councils “visioning document” is only pro development.  The plan serves no purpose or advantage to the average citizen.  I encourage residents and Councillors who will listen to take back our city and remove it from developer take over and greed.  Council could hold a referendum on the OCP in the municipal election this November 15/2014.  The question is which Council member will stand up and table the motion?

Rick Evon
Resident 43 years.

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