2014-12-12 — OCP lawsuit letters in the news

LETTER: Councillor wades into OCP debate
Tri-Cities Now
December 12, 2014 11:17 AM
http://www.thenownews.com/opinion/editorial/letter-councillor-wades-into-ocp-debate-1.1663575

You may have read that Metro Vancouver has rejected Port Moody’s OCP (official community plan) on the basis that the Regional Context Statement (Amendment 1) is not aligned with the policies in our own OCP as well as those of the region in relation to industrial land.

Further, Metro has now petitioned to quash the OCP bylaw based on this.

The Regional Context Statement (RCS) is an accompanying document that outlines how and where we will accommodate growth. The RCS prescribes both the Andres Wines and the Mill and Timber sites as “special study areas” that will have high-density development in the future. As we move to determine the best course of action for amending the OCP, we need to consider the areas of contention as well as the impacts that these decisions will have. What is at the centre of the controversy is the RCS, which has been rejected by Metro Vancouver.

The previous council determined, in their wisdom, to proceed with the OCP regardless of the fact that they knew that Metro Vancouver would file a petition to quash the document. At the centre of this controversy is the Moody Centre neighbourhood. Moody Centre has struggled for years to sustain its commercial and retail businesses, because it is mainly comprised of single-family homes. We understand that there is a need for concentrated growth to create a vibrant economy.

The need to increase the density has always been recognized but the question is how much is enough and how do you do it? Our community has gone from relying on an over-60-per-cent industrial tax base when I first was elected in 1996, to a mere 14 per cent today. Our commercial and retail sector has not replaced these industrial taxes, and we have not done a good enough job of replacing it, so it has become the burden of the residential homeowners to make up the difference. This is one of the main reasons why our taxes are so high in Port Moody.

This is a trend that will continue if the OCP is advanced in its present form. With the expansion of Pacific Coast Terminals, their tax contribution will almost triple, from $1.2-million to $3-million, however, if we change the zoning on the old Andres Wines site we will lose over $1-million, and if we plan and encourage the shutdown of the Mill and Timber site, we will lose over $1-million in tax revenue.

The money lost by converting this land to residential/mixed-use will never be replaced with the new development because it costs the city money to build the new infrastructure required to service these residents — not only the public amenities, parks, etc. as mentioned above, but also the sewer, water and general ongoing city operation of the additional neighbourhood stock.

Our own OCP policies state that we will “discourage the conversion of existing industrial lands for residential or other uses” whereas later in the same document as well as in the context statement, we have identified the Mill and Timber and Andres Wines sites as “special study areas” that will accommodate residential and mixed use with towers of up to 26 storeys high, etc.

As a result, Metro Vancouver has rejected both of these “special study areas” for a number of reasons, including: • Protection of the supply of industrial lands • Goods movement — the loss of these industrial lands may restrict access to multiple modes of movement potential • The risk of proliferation of subsequent 2040 amendments • Redesignation of the lands would impact industrial lands to the west • Specifically related to the Andres Wines site: Deemed an inappropriate land use because it is not close enough to amenities (rapid transit, etc.) and is too close to heavy industry.

I guess, in short, I support moderate growth in Moody Centre. I do not support the development of the Andres Wines site into residential — I would encourage the development of light, clean or high-tech industry on that site, so that we can diversify our tax base. In addition, I do not think that we should be encouraging the Mill and Timber site to change zoning or redevelop because they are a viable and important contributor to our local economy and tax base. As an aside, I believe it is very possible and realistic to bring in a high-tech industry or a business park that will stimulate jobs in Moody Centre.

Meghan Lahti Port Moody City Council

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Still questions on Port Moody OCP suit
Tri-City News, posted Dec 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM
http://www.tricitynews.com/opinion/letters/285270341.html

The Editor,

Re. “Port Moody council backs mayor for Metro Vancouver appointment” (tricitynews.com, Dec. 4).

Where did Port Moody Coun. Meghan Lahti get her information that a “fellow councillor” was spreading misinformation through an email to residents? I would like to know who it was.

Mayor Mike Clay, city council and staff must stop the denial and realize there is a segment of Port Moody residents who are very angry a Metro lawsuit was discussed, voted on and implemented during the election cycle.

Mayor Clay was in attendance at the Metro meeting. Simply excusing himself when he had no vote on the matter for conflict of interest reasons does not exonerate him to withhold information during the election.

Pure coincidence or perfect timing?

Where there is smoke, there is fire and I am willing to bet council, staff and some astute residents were fully aware a lawsuit was going to happen by voting for the OCP. Coun. Zoe Royer made the right call. The question was not if but when?

Unfortunately, the burden will now be on the shoulders of this new group of elected councillors and taxpayers will be left holding the tab.

Rick Evon, Port Moody

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OCP Botched
George Elgstrand / Tri-Cities Now
December 17, 2014 12:00 AM

How disappointing but funnily, not surprising! Your Nov. 21 article about the botching of the Port Moody OCP should have been shocking but wasn’t.

It’s exactly what we have come to expect from the mayor, council and senior staff at City Hall: the perfect storm. The mayor, assisted by his buddies, pushing a flawed OCP through council just three weeks before the election so that the “developers can get on with it”.

Can’t take a chance on new faces on council making different decisions can we? Let’s take away that chance and remove a key election element from the table.

Surprise! Now the story is we’ll need to wait to see what these new people want because what they were given doesn’t meet Metro’s requirements and guess what, the mayor and council were fully aware of the flaws before hand. On the good side, some of the cronies are gone. Maybe there is yet hope for a good OCP. Maybe our votes meant something after all. We got close to dethroning the problem, but we now have four valuable years to make sure we do the next time. And let’s wait for the contribution filings of the participants due this spring. A group of us will be vetting every dollar.

George Elgstrand
Port Moody

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You can’t have your cake and eat it too
Derek B. Wilson / Tri-Cities Now
December 17, 2014 12:00 AM

Port Moody – RE: Councillor wades into OCP debate,” letter to the editor, Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Newly elected Port Moody councillor Meghan Lahti wrote a confusing letter about the future of urban redevelopment.

The Ioco, Mill and Timber, and Andres Wines properties were designated “special study areas” in the draft OCP to indicate to Metro Vancouver that they might be re-zoned from their current “industrial” designation.

But after bemoaning the loss of other property-tax rich industrial properties, Councillor Lahti seemed to endorse the redevelopment of these properties for “high-density development.”

Which way does she want to have it?

Let’s have the “special studies” initiated, with public consultation, to present the options for these properties as input for council’s final decision on zoning.

Derek B. Wilson
Port Moody

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