Port Moody to deal with Metro Vancouver legal action in new year
by Janis Warren – The Tri-City News
posted Nov 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Metro Vancouver launched a legal petition earlier this month against the city of Port Moody, alleging its new official community plan (OCP) is “invalid.”
In its action, filed Nov. 13 at BC Supreme Court in Vancouver — two days before the city election — Metro Vancouver claims the OCP that Port Moody council adopted 5-2 a month earlier is contrary to provincial legislation.
According to the Metro court filing, Section 866 of the Local Government Act states that all 21 municipalities must have a regional context statement (RCS) accepted by the Metro board in its OCP.
Since Port Moody’s doesn’t, it says, its blueprint for growth effectively does not meet statutory content: “Until such time the new OCP meets the required content required by Section 866 of the Local Government Act, the new OCP is not in force and effect,” the petition states.
Metro Vancouver officials and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who chairs the regional board, which voted in camera to pursue legal action against Port Moody, declined to comment while the case is before the courts.
“We’re looking for a way to resolve it,” Metro spokesperson Bill Morrell said.
Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay said the legal challenge by Metro was expected.
On Monday, he told The Tri-City News the city had been discussing the land use matter with Metro for some time. In the spring, when the city took its proposed OCP to Metro for comment, Clay said Metro suggested the city make four changes, of which two were later approved and two denied. Those two concerned the Mill and Timber (Flavelle mill) site next to Rocky Point Park and the former Andrés Winery.
Clay said Metro insisted those sites be moved from industrial to general urban use — something the city did not want to do because there was no immediate plan to develop them.
Clay said Metro then reversed its decision, denying Port Moody a change from industrial to general urban. “We said, ‘We’re OK with that because they’re industrial sites with a special-study area overlay,'” Clay said, adding, “This is why we’ve gotten where we’ve gotten, because there’s basically a disagreement with the semantics of what they’re doing. They told us what to do then voted against it.”
Clay said Port Moody has sent a letter to Metro that it won’t be responding to the petition within the required 21-day period because of the city council and Metro board change-over after the Nov. 15 civic election.
But he and city staff hope to meet with Metro officials early in the new year, when Clay said he believes there will likely be a change to the city’s RCS. “We will meet their conditions. We will just file an amended one… It’s literally changing the colour on a map.”
Meanwhile, a look at Metro Vancouver’s agenda for July 11 provides some information as to the reasons for the regional body’s reticence at agreeing to PoMo’s changes.
At the time, Metro Vancouver staff recommended the board decline the new designations from industrial to general urban. In the case of the Andres wines site, a staff report said the location does not seem appropriate for some of the highest densities in the city, given that it is located at the end of the central part of Port Moody and not close to a confirmed rapid transit station or other amenities, and reducing the supply of industrial lands should only be considered in unique cases based on a strong planning rational. It suggests that until more study is done, which PoMo is planning to do, the amendment “seems premature.”
In the case of the Mill and Timber property, the report states that while the OCP does elaborate on the future mix of residential, commercial, marina, light industrial, institutional and public open space, and PoMo plans to do more study, redesignation seems premature given that there is a working mill on the site.
Metro tussles with city over OCP Regional Government Files Court Petition Over Port Moody Document
Jeremy Deutsch / Tri-Cities Now
November 21, 2014 12:00 AM
While Port Moody’s newly minted official community plan (OCP) may have been a done deal for local politicians, another level of government is taking issue with at least part of the document.
Last week, Metro Vancouver (identified as the Greater Vancouver Regional District in court documents), filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court arguing Port Moody’s OCP is invalid and does not meet the necessary statutory guidelines.
According to court documents filed last week, the GVRD claims the new OCP bylaw passed on Oct. 14 contains no regional context statement accepted by the regional district, as required under the Local Government Act.
The regional district argued the city has enacted a new regional context statement in the OCP that has never been agreed to or accepted by the GVRD.
Officials with Metro Vancouver told the Tri-Cities NOW they did not want to discuss the petition since the issue is before the courts.
But Port Moody Mike Clay said the city knew when it passed the OCP it was not compliant with the regional context statement, specifically related to two areas, the designation for the Mill and Timber site and the old Andres Winery.”
To me, it’s just process,” he said of the court petition.
“We knew it was going to happen. It’s happening. That’s fine. That’s how these things play out.”
The new OCP has the Mill and Timber site designated as oceanfront district — it was formerly industrial with a special study designation — while the Andres site is designated mixed use.
The site was also formerly designated industrial.
In the case of Mill and Timber, Metro Vancouver wants the city to change the designation from industrial to general urban use because of its designation in the city’s OCP.
Clay said the city has no plans to make any changes at the Mill and Timber site, but the oceanfront district designation was intended to let residents know the long-term vision.
He suggested any changes to the site would involve public consultation and a larger process.
The mayor noted the city has 21 days to respond to the petition, but suggested the two sides will likely meet in January, once a new Metro Vancouver board is in place, to try and come to some kind of agreement.
He said council could approve an amendment that would put the site back in the industrial designation, a move he would prefer rather than going the legal route of fighting the regional district over the issue.
However, he didn’t want to presuppose what the newly elected council would want to consider. Coun. Rick Glumac said he preferred all along to make the appropriate amendments before passing the OCP, adding now the city is dealing with the legal side of the issue, which he called “risky.”
While he argued the situation could have been handled differently, he agreed a court battle is not the way to resolve the dispute.
“It seems to me this requires some discussion with Metro. It would have been better to go into it with a collaborative approach rather than a confrontational one,” he said, adding the city needs to get to the table with Metro Vancouver to come up with a solution.