POSTPONED: Public lands debate heading to public hearing March 27, 2018

POSTPONED: Public lands debate heading to public hearing March 27, 2018

Update: The public hearing has been postponed for a 2nd time, date to be determined.

Future of city property going to public hearing
Tri-City News, Feb. 15, 2018

Notes in addition to Tri-City News summary above; for best context and complete information, listen/view the archived video of the meeting (link below).

Hot-button issue. Complicated proposal. Widespread confusion.

At the Feb. 13th council meeting, Mayor Clay and a few others once again felt there was a lot of confusion and misrepresentation within public comment.

Those voting in favour (4:3) to pass first readings to move this forward to a public hearing (March 27, 2018) said they want to hear from a wider audience, suggesting most of the recent feedback came from residents in very close proximity to the site of the former fire hall and current public works yard in the Inlet Centre area adjacent to city hall (e.g., Suterbrook, Newport).

There is no doubt some confusion, understandable given the scope of this proposal, and the lack of specifics available to the public. As noted earlier, the proposal involves OCP and zoning amendments to change this land from P1 (public and institutional) to comprehensive development, mixed use (CD) in order to facilitate the sale of the land.

The city gives examples of potential community amenity benefits, but at this stage there are no guarantees; it’s a matter of what might be negotiated (or not) with any future, private owner of the land should the city proposal move forward.

Public discontent with the ‘consultation’ process was very evident in the two recent meetings (CPAC and the regular council meeting, Feb. 6th and 13th, respectively, see earlier posts on public lands below for more information; scroll or use search bar).

Several people gave public input at the Feb. 13th council meeting. Recent by-election candidate Gerry Kent said selling public lands is not a sustainable strategy, and that proposed or approved new developments, as well as partnerships with other levels of government, should help provide funds to assist with city needs. Another recent by-election candidate, Richard Biedka, commented that a longer-term perspective with more information and analysis is necessary.

Most speakers, but not all, did not approve of the proposed amendments for this public land.

One speaker (in this case, in favour of the city’s proposal, and a community member of CPAC) claimed propaganda material was produced by some residents not in favour. The material in question was a mock-up visual image of two tall towers on the sites and comments about additional towers (available from CPAC on-table materials). This speaker said there was no way 3-4 towers could be accommodated on this public land, and that he had seen nothing in the city material about 3-4 towers, therefore these other resident comments amounted to propaganda (he quoted a definition from Merriam-Webster online).

He may be correct in thinking 3-4 towers is unrealistic. However, written city material did indicate the possibility of 3-4 towers and several lower-rise buildings (Dec. 4, 2017 info meeting display boards here; see also previous post: Public lands for sale, update post info session of Dec. 4, 2017). Ironically, this speaker’s intended correction amounted to (presumably unintentional) propaganda. More confusion.

Other comments and questions included disappointment with what was perceived as an unwillingness to listen, and condescending, dismissive comments, that public land should be retained for public needs, the issue of expanding the TOD circle to include an irregular bump with the lands under discussion, a question on why the city decided these lands should be up for discussion, that this was not a decision to be taken lightly, listen to the people, Flavelle site mentioned as an area that might be worth consideration of trade-offs, the need for more details on longer-term vision, including financials, of Port Moody and its needs before embarking on this type of action on public land.

One of the final speakers, a local realtor who stated he recently moved from the Inlet Centre area to Coquitlam, re-iterated the inaccurate claim that Port Moody has an obligation for greater density due to Skytrain.

Many questions.

Tower heights uncertainty
Councillor Lahti noted several discrepancies in city material that required clean-up for clarity. She also suggested the 26-34 storey descriptions be amended to just say 26 storeys, with an asterisk on the maps to indicate room for negotiation. This motion passed, but with some concerns that no cap on height/storeys could lead to “higher” developer expectations.

Onni connection, more uncertainty
Councillor Madsen brought up the Onni matter that surfaced at the week-earlier CPAC meeting (i.e., a statement that the city must relocate the public works yard due to an agreement with Onni), indicating this new information is relevant to the discussion of the sale of the works yard, and wondered if it was more of an attempt to skew the conversation than an actual legal obligation. (Councillor Lahti recalled a mutual agreement many years ago involving taking money from Onni and eventual relocation of the works yard.)

The city is still looking for evidence of a legal obligation to Onni to relocate the public works yard. (See post CPAC update (Feb. 6, 2018) — Obligation to Onni to relocate public works yard?).

Purchase other land, Flavelle?
Mayor Clay suggested sale of this land could empower the city to buy other land. “I was so glad to see a couple of people come down tonight and say, what if we did sell that land, maybe we could buy lots of parkland somewhere else like maybe even Flavelle … If you could sell this 6 acres and buy 50 acres, is that a good deal?”

While many people might think a trade-off for some or all Flavelle land may be worthy of discussion, how realistic is it? How would it work? Is it really a viable option?

Just over one week earlier, the mayor was promoting the merits of the large-scale Flavelle proposal which includes up to 7,000 new residents in multiple towers, see Updated – Flavelle proposal passes first regional hurdle, Tri-City News, Feb. 2, 2018. More confusion.

Postpone decision until civic election coming in October 2018, or later
There were suggestions any decision should be delayed, pending the civic election results, possibly with a referendum question. It was also suggested by Councillor Vagramov that if an OCP review is pending for 2019 the matter could/should wait until then.

Final vote: 4:3.
For first readings: Mayor Clay, Councillors Dilworth, Junker, Lahti.
Against: Councillors Madsen, Royer, Vagramov.

There is much more discussion of interest not captured above, available on the archived video, link here. Select whichever items are of particular interest. In the case of public lands, interested parties will want to listen to the public input segments, and item 9.1.

Related:
Letters: ‘Higher purpose’ for Port Moody land
Tri-City News, Feb. 16, 2018

In other news, a sampling:
Shuttle bus gets green light from PoMo council
Tri-City News, Feb. 16, 2018

PoMo considering ban on plastic bags, styrofoam
Tri-City News, Feb. 15, 2018

Port Moody police warn of phone scam
Tri-City News, Feb. 15, 2018

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