Port Moody council to look into concerns about large houses
by Diane Strandberg – The Tri-City News
posted Jun 12, 2014 at 6:00 PM
A group of residents pushing for a Good Neighbour bylaw to regulate house size is encouraged by Port Moody council’s willingness to explore the issue.
Sandy Liles, a former councillor who is leading the charge to get the city’s zoning bylaws changed to regulate so-called “monster houses” said she is pleased Moody trustees will discuss the issue at a meeting next month.
“I think the message is pretty strong and there is a groundswell out there from people that are waking up to a property that has been beside them for years being demolished and what comes up in its place is a great big huge house,” she said.
For Liles and her neighbours, who have started a Facebook page, the issue is about finding a compromise that will satisfy both existing homeowners and newcomers.
“I’d like to stress, it’s an issue that’s more than just about blocking view corridors, it’s also the green spaces, it’s creating shadows, where once there could be gardens,” said Lilles, who added that residents are not against development but want new builders to be “respectful” of the community.
But according to a report to council, the issue may be a bit more complicated. Port Moody land values have risen and people want to maximize their investment and coming up with legislation that works (council already tried to amend the bylaw in 2012 to change how grade was calculated) will be a challenge.
But it’s not just Ioco and Pleasantside where residents are complaining. The report states concerns are coming from neighbourhoods throughout Port Moody as deteriorating older buildings are replaced with new larger homes.
The issue is also prevalent throughout the Lower Mainland but so far no municipalities in this region control building height to preserve views, the report states.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, politicians welcomed a more thorough discussion and Coun. Diana Dilworth said she wanted to see specific examples of how people would be affected. The topic of building heights, size and siting is expected to take place Tuesday, July 15.
The city’s mayor also looks forward to more discussion. “From there I think we need to take it out to a community consultation but move it more aggressively and carefully,” Mike Clay said.
However, he said the city has to walk a fine line between respecting property rights and the wishes of existing residents.
He would like to see the meeting offer specific examples of how properties are affected by the current bylaw, and what differences changing the bylaw would make.
“How does it affect my property [people want to know] you are always walking the line between private property rights and dictatorship,” Clay acknowledged.
Story carried in the Tri-Cities Now, and picked up by The Province
Heading in Tri-Cities Now
Port Moody to look at ‘monster homes’
Heading in The Province
‘The horror on Hope Street’: Port Moody looking at scaling down ‘monster homes’
By Jeremy Deutsch, Tri-Cities Now June 13, 2014
What might be a dream home to one person is turning into a nightmare for some residents in Port Moody.
The construction of several large “monster homes” has residents up in arms, and city council looking at changes to address the issue.
On Tuesday, council voted to take a look at the bylaw regarding height calculations for new houses.
Several city councillors said they’ve heard concerns about monster homes sprouting up in neighbourhoods across the city, and want to act on the issue as soon as possible.
Currently, a home can’t exceed three storeys or 35 feet above grade.
A staff report noted in many neighbourhoods, older buildings are being replaced by larger homes, and given the high land values the new homes are being built to the maximum size, often dwarfing surrounding homes.
But even the report noted the issue is complicated because of the different slopes and grades on properties.
Mayor Mike Clay acknowledged the problem of monster homes is growing, but cautioned the city needs to find a balance that works for everyone. However, he said he’s heard in some cases, people are building monster homes to live in for a year to avoid paying the capital gains tax, then selling.
“It’s not someone building their dream house anymore, it’s someone building their house to make money,” Clay said. “We have to do something. It’s frustrating.”
He suggested one possibility is to calculate the maximum height based on the level of the lot rather than the foundation.
While council looks to weigh in on the rules, the community is already voicing its opinion on social media.
A group of Pleasantside residents has started a Facebook page called The Good Neighbour By-Law Port Moody, dedicated to stopping the proliferation of monster homes. More than 100 people have joined the group since it was started in late May.
Hazel Mason, president of the Moody Centre Community Association, said monster homes have been an issue in her neighbourhood for years, adding it’s time council takes a closer look at the issue. She said in some cases, people are losing privacy to the homes, and sunlight.
There is one home in particular on Hope Street that has drawn the ire of residents. Mason called it the “horror on Hope.”
She questions how some of the large homes in the area are approved by the city, and hopes people from all around the city will come together to change the issue.
“It’s not neighbourly,” she said of people building monster homes. “It’s not friendly and it’s not polite.”
Council will look at the existing bylaw at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting.
Funky cafes, brew pubs, homes and commercial enterprises
by Diane Strandberg – The Tri-City News
posted Jun 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM— updated Jun 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM
Port Moody’s mayor is welcoming two new craft breweries that will serve tastings of ale as part of their sales and manufacturing process as Murray Street transitions to a waterfront boulevard of cafes, businesses and condos close to the Evergreen Line.
Yellow Dog Brewery and Moody Ales plan to open this summer and Mike Clay said they will add a vibrancy to the street that is currently light industrial.
“It would be neat to have funky cafes, brew pubs, and people could literally skip over to SkyTrain, that would be our full time goal,” said Clay, pointing out that the Moody Centre Station is located immediately behind Yellow Dog, although it would need a pedestrian bridge to link Murray Street with the transit system.
He said once the Official Community Plan is adopted and Metro Vancouver agrees to changing the street’s designation from industrial to general urban, there will be opportunities for new development including six-storey buildings with businesses below and residential above.
The OCP calls for upper floors to be set back to allow for outdoor spaces and create a buffer from street level activities, north south pedestrian connections between developments and Moody Central station will be pursued and bike lanes, sidewalks, street furniture, public art, traffic calming measures and additional signalized crossings will be promoted as part of new development.
Clay said he expects Metro Vancouver to sign off on re-designating the street because it is close to the Evergreen Line and ripe for transit-oriented development.
He would also like to see commercial art spaces and studios along the street and high tech businesses, such as software labs, to generate employment.
“But until we get the OCP passed, it’s hard to explore those ideas,” Clay said.
Work continues on arts centre revamp
Jeremy Deutsch / Tri-Cities Now
June 11, 2014 12:00 AM
Ann Kitching dreams of a Port Moody Arts Centre that one day will be a destination for people from all over the country – a place where residents can congregate, perform and express themselves through art.
“It is important for all of us to use our hands and minds together,” said Kitching, president of the society that runs the centre.
While her vision could happen one day, the reality for now is that plenty of work remains on the expansion of the centre.
For months, staff at the centre have been working on joining the existing building on St. Johns Street to the old Appleyard/Centennial home.
The 100-year-old heritage home was moved next to the arts centre earlier this year, after it was moved a first time from Clarke Street in 2012.
The plan is to join the two buildings by an atrium and walkway.
To date, the steel for the atrium is up, while the interior of the house has been gutted with reconstruction underway.
The arts centre’s executive director, Bruce Campbell, explained the main floor will serve as a gathering space without any specific programming.
The idea is to keep it open for groups or people wanting to put on small plays, performances or poetry readings.
The basement will be a studio, while an outdoor space will be transformed into another studio for more industrial-type art using welding and chain saws.
Meanwhile, the reception desk in the current centre will be moved out of the gallery to make way for more space.
“It’s truly a transition for us,” Campbell said of the expansion project, pointing out the current space hasn’t changed in 15 years.
“A real stepping away from the past, but in a positive way.”
If all goes according to plan, the new centre will be hosting an open house at the end of September during Culture Days.
In all, the centre has a budget of $1.1 million for the transformation.
It received a half-million dollar grant from the federal government and another couple of grants from the City of Port Moody and the province.
The arts centre was also asked to come up with another $200,000 to round out the costs.
The centre is getting close to that goal, having raised $170,000 through various events.
And it looks like the completion of the project can’t come fast enough for folks at the centre, as Port Moody looks to live up to its City of the Arts designation.
Campbell said the current facility is bursting at the seams, noting 68 per cent of classes offered in 2013 saw enough students register for them to go ahead.
He said the indication is the summer programs will by just as busy and fall programs even more popular.
Campbell suggested the city’s growth is playing a role, pointing out the centre is seeing a boost from both ends of the spectrum: The younger generation moving into Port Moody and older residents in their retirement years.
“People are beginning to simply have the awareness that this is here,” he said.
The centre is also looking at fall programming aimed at urban professionals.
Still, Campbell predicts it will take the centre about a year to get fully comfortable in its new digs.
Kitching said it’s imperative the centre expands to meet the growth of the city.
“A lot of us believe we are the City of the Arts and this makes it very much a richer city,” she said.