2014-03-22 — OCP in the news, week ending March 22, 2014

Don’t ‘gentrify’ old Port Moody
posted Mar 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Tri-City News

The Editor,

One possible consequence of new development and population growth is gentrification.

If Port Moody council approves the proposed OCP, there could be a dramatic decline in affordable housing, massive demand on public infrastructure and increased taxation. Many low-income residents and pensioners will likely be priced out of the city. Crime rates could also rise, along with a host of other social problems such as homelessness.

The myth that small businesses will have a larger client base is unfounded. In fact, new development can bring more competition and higher lease rates.

It appears council may want to convert Kyle Centre and the adjacent green space into subsidized housing to help combat gentrification should it give the OCP the green light. This sounds noble but who will pay for this — financially and socially? Inclusionary zoning and rent control regulation places more responsibility on the developer and is a safer bet to limit the effects of gentrification and help keep taxes under control. It is imperative we preserve Kyle Centre in the OCP for everyone to enjoy.

With tax increases already some of the highest in the Lower Mainland, one really has to wonder what in the world Port Moody councillors and city staff are thinking.

Rick Evon, Port Moody

[This letter also appeared in the Tri-Cities Now, ‘Preserve Kyle Centre’]


PORT MOODY OCP: Differing opinions aired at meeting
by  Diane Strandberg – The Tri-City News
posted Mar 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Port Moody councillors are not out to “recklessly” destroy the city with a community plan that gives developers carte blanche to do what they want, the city’s mayor told attendees at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening.

Mike Clay said the OCP, with a focus on Moody Centre, where the new Evergreen Line will have the greatest impact, is a vision to guide development, not a prescription for builders.

“An OCP doesn’t entitle anybody to do anything,” Clay said.

Speaking after several opponents to the plan raised issues such as the future of city property around Kyle Centre, the lack of specifics on how many units a developer can build on a site, and protection for heritage buildings, Clay said the plan that has taken a year to develop is a compromise that people can live with.

“This isn’t a group of reckless people out here who want to wreck the city,” Clay said.

But his comments didn’t square with some residents, many of whom have been vocal at other OCP town hall meetings. Many of those residents are still not happy with what they see in the plan.

Hazel Mason, president of the Moody Centre Community Association, said she has concerns about the level of density and “massive growth” in the plan, and doesn’t believe the majority of PoMo residents support it.

Elaine Golds, a resident and director with Burke Mountain Naturalists, said the lack of specifics on site coverage or number of units per acre leaves the door open to developers. She asked for “some assurance about what we are going to end up with.”


But other residents said the plan provided density that will encourage the development of a walkable city, and a population that support shops and small businesses.

Jillian Hull of the West Port Moody Property Owners Group said with proper planning and environmental policies, the city can create a community in which people can afford to live and grow old.

Other speakers, such as John Grasty, said the OCP balances the need for density along the Evergreen Line route with the desire for amenities and green space because density be traded for desirable benefits such as parks and community facilities.

The split in opinions from residents also appeared to mirror division on council.

Councillors Rick Glumac and Zoe Royer said they supported more specific details on site coverage and Glumac said he would have liked to have seen 30% of the new Oceanfront District, identified as a special study area, saved to expand Rocky Point Park.

“My primary concern right now with the OCP — I’m not against density  — it’s just how much density,” Glumac said.


But Clay said specific site coverage details in the plan wouldn’t be “legally enforceable” and such regs should be laid out in the zoning bylaw.

The mayor also took issue with complaints that “rampant growth” will be the outcome of the plan, noting that over the 30 year life of the vision growth of 1.35% to 1.4% is predicted.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said the OCP represents a 30-year vision but, over the short term, will at least guide development along the Evergreen Line route, which is a pressing concern.

“We really want to address what SkyTrain impacts will be beforehand,” Dilworth said.

Coun. Rosemary Small, meanwhile, said she takes issue with people who said council is in the pockets of developers, and reiterated that the public will continue to have a say in development as the plan rolls out in future years.

The OCP, which identifies in broad strokes what development will look like in the future —  including how many storeys buildings should be around Inlet Centre and Moody Centre stations as well as a potential SkyTrain station in west Port Moody — is slated to go to the city’s land use committee for approval on April. 1, then to city council.

The plan has undergone several changes since it was introduced last spring. Wednesday’s meeting was the fourth town hall meeting on the topic, but there will be more chances for people to give their input during a formal public hearing as part of the process.



Port Moody holds last town hall for OCP
Jeremy Deutsch / Tri-Cities Now
March 20, 2014

It looks like the fourth time will have to be a charm when it comes to big public gatherings to discuss Port Moody’s official community plan (OCP).

Though it wasn’t quite as full as at previous OCP town hall meetings, the Inlet Centre was near capacity Wednesday for what will likely be the final town hall setting for the draft document.

And as at similar meetings, the views on the draft OCP from the more-than two dozen speakers varied, from concern to support and everything in between.

Hazel Mason, president of the Moody Centre Community Association, suggested most people don’t support the plan, adding it leaves many questions unanswered.  “The plan appears to be the result of a disproportionate influence for developers and other special interest groups. It’s not a vision defined by residents, or at least most of them,” she said.

Mason and a few others at the town hall suggested council put the OCP to a referendum.

Others, like real estate agent John Grasty, commended the work by council on forming the document, and suggested it should have been passed a long time ago.  He said he doesn’t believe density will get out of hand under the plan.

Fred Soofi, who owns several heritage homes in the city, urged council to come up with stronger language in the OCP to protect heritage properties.  He suggested there is no incentive for someone to spend money and maintain a heritage home, and predicted the ones remaining will eventually be torn down.

A representative for the Flavelle Sawmill also told the town hall that, due to increased demand, the mill is hoping to get back to a 24/7 operation. The mill site has been the object of development speculation for years.  “We’re happy to be a sawmill. If in five or 10 years it makes sense for the site to stop being a sawmill, we’re gong to participate in the process,” the representative said.

For the better part of a year, city council has been working on the OCP in anticipation of the Evergreen Line’s arrival.

The document, which guides land use, servicing and the form and character of any new development, identifies seven distinct Evergreen sub areas, mostly within the City Centre area.

The last OCP town hall at the Inlet Theatre back in December drew some 300 residents, while more than 1,000 people have weighed in on the plan in various forms over the last year.

Wednesday’s town hall was intended for council to get feedback on some recent changes to the document, including a new institutional/research designation added to the possibilities of use for the oceanfront district, along with comments from the Burke Mountain Naturalists regarding environmental changes to the OCP.

The OCP also has a new policy for density bonusing that allows landowners to develop at a higher density in return for provision of community amenities like parks and recreation facilities, arts and cultural facilities and public art.

Council members also got a chance to give their thoughts on the plan so far.

Coun. Rosemary Small said she understands that some people think council is in the hands of the developers, but disputed the suggestion.  “I assure you I am not,” she said. “I am not looking to developers to pay me any money to build anything except what you want.”  She said she doesn’t agree with everything in the plan, but can live with most of it.

Coun. Rick Glumac said he’s not against density, but argued his primary concern with the draft OCP is what he considers a lack of clarity on how much densification could take place.

Coun. Diana Dilworth pointed out the document is looking 30 years into the city’s future and will continue to evolve over time.  “It’s very likely many of the things envisioned in this particular document will never come to fruition,” she said.

Mayor Mike Clay defended council’s work on the document, pointing out the OCP does not entitle anyone to do anything, and that any development plans still need to be approved individually.

“It’s a vision document. It’s a guideline so when developers come here they know what they should bring that might get approved,” he said.

“This isn’t a group [council] of seven reckless people who want to destroy this city.”


Maillardville plan on hearing agenda
Sam Smith / Tri-Cities Now
March 21, 2014 12:00 AM

Residents wanting to comment on the proposed Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan will have a chance to do so on March 31, when the City of Coquitlam will hold a public hearing to discuss the topic, among others.

The historic neighbourhood is one step closer to having an updated neighbourhood plan, after city council gave first reading to the proposed document at a March 10 meeting.

Councillors were excited to see the plan reach this point, and said they’re eager to get the public’s response.

“Several decades ago a writer, Gertrude Stein, commenting on a vast, featureless boring area in urban California said, ‘The problem with Oakland is there is no ‘there’ there,'” Coun. Terry O’Neill said. “And I was thinking this is exactly the opposite. This report here reflects the fact that there’s a great deal of will in the community, on council and staff, to give it a ‘there.'”

Highlights of the plan include a mix of medium density housing choices, a push to maintain heritage characteristics in the area, a large-scale employment generating area, and a move to establish a “Main   Street” type of neighbourhood centre near Brunette Avenue and Lougheed Highway.

The updated plan also aims for a contemporary vision for the next 20 to 25 years, when the city expects to add an additional 6,000 residents.”

This update re-affirms and further strengthens the original Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan, and calls for a walkable, highly livable neighbourhood that recognizes and celebrates its rich heritage values,” a city report states.

The plan itself lists nine guiding principles: to design on a human scale; restore Main Street; preserve heritage; facilitate job growth; build vibrant public spaces; provide housing choices; create neighbourhood identity; enhance landscapes; and increase transportation options.

It also recognizes and supports the expansion of existing civic and major institutions, as well as schools, which give identity to the neighbourhood.

“It will be important to ensure these uses and facilities continue to meet the needs of the neighbourhood as it grows and evolves over time, thus the plan includes policies that encourage the expansion of these existing uses and facilities, as well as the development of new civic and major institutional uses, such as new seniors housing that supports ‘aging in place’ and new cultural facilities that preserve and showcase Maillardville’s history,” the report states.

Mayor Richard Stewart said he grew up in Maillardville and this plan will help the city head in the right direction for the revitalization of his home turf.

“I grew up in this neighbourhood. For my whole life we’ve been talking about that opportunity to revitalize Maillardville, and I think there’s a light now on the issues,” he said.

“The light’s kind of at the end of a long tunnel of trying to encourage the revitalization and encourage the reestablishment of a real sense of community in our historic neighbourhood.”

To have your name added to the speakers list at the public hearing, call the city clerk’s office at 604-927-3010.

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