2015-05-09 — Flavelle mill site redevelopment in the news (again)

Flavelle sawmill redevelopment in the works for Port Moody waterfront
by Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News
posted Apr 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM— updated May 1, 2015 at 3:03 PM

The Flavelle sawmill site in Port Moody could be going the way of plans for Coquitlam’s Fraser Mills, trading piles of wood and machinery for condos and a waterfront boardwalk.

Mill and Timber announced this week its plans for an “exciting transformation” of the 14.7-acre site (34 acres) next to Rocky Point Park.

Recent changes to the city’s official community plan have paved the way for a shift from the site’s 110-year history of industrial usage to a future as a “vibrant mixed-use community with connections to the water’s edge.”

Information posted on a new website, http://www.flavelleoceanfront.ca, states a key objective in the redevelopment will be to reintegrate the water’s edge and bring back community access to the waterfront that was cut off when the CP Railway was built in 1886.

And while several potential features of the development are suggested, including a “made in Port Moody boardwalk,” park space and extensions to the Shoreline Trail, as well as heritage elements that would speak to the property’s history as a sawmill, there is no mention of the possible number of buildings or units, what the development could look like or any environmental accommodations.

(At nearly nine hectares, or 22 acres, the nearby Suter Brook site was planned for up to 1,250 units while the vision for Fraser Mills’ 89 acres includes up to 3,700 units in a mix of forms.)

The redevelopment proposal comes shortly after Metro Vancouver’s regional planning committee agreed to changes that keep the Mill and Timber site, as well as the Andrés Wines property, as industrial. Metro had filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court to quash PoMo’s OCP, approved in October 2014, because the two properties’ designations as general urban put the city’s regional context statement out of sync with Metro’s regional growth strategy. A special study overlay remains, allowing for future development proposals that come with a comprehensive local area plan. Buildings could potentially be four to 12 storeys, with reduced parking requirements to emphasize walking, cycling and transit use.

PoMo Mayor Mike Clay said if the Klahanie and Suter Brook developments are any indication, changes to the Mill and Timber site could take about seven to 10 years to complete.

“I think the community engagement part, they have to work harder at that now… because people have such concerns around traffic management, congestion and over-densification,” he said. “They will have to work with the community to come up with something that works for all of us.”

Information about the proposal was released in a document by Brook Pooni, an urban planning and land development consultancy, along with dedicated social media handles.

Its public consultation phase is expected to last until this fall, beginning with community outreach and stakeholder identification in the first phase, meetings with stakeholders and neighbourhood groups, design workshops, then a second open house in phase two this summer, followed by a final concept development and third open house in the fall.

And while Port Metro Vancouver has opposed redevelopment of industrial lands in the region, Clay said the mill’s transformation could provide more and better variety in jobs, noting the current 80 jobs on 34 acres isn’t a significant amount of employment density.

“They’ve been a good employer in the city, the staff are well paid. Hopefully whatever they do doesn’t mean people getting laid off,” Clay said. “But there are new green industries like tech industries, research facilities, that are also good high-paying jobs, just not the traditional smokestack industrial kind.”

Clay also said he would like to see public waterfront access, extended trails, green space and recognition of the importance of the environment as well as a marina and, possibly, a hotel.

“The model I don’t particularly like is the Athletes Village in Vancouver,” he said. “It’s very cold and uninviting. We need something… with lower density, mixed-use, some good job-providing opportunities.”

Clay said the property’s transformation could provide new benefits to the city and its residents but it may not carry enough density to warrant a third Evergreen Line station.

spayne@tricitynews.com

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NOTE: The letter below is responding to opinion piece “Slow and easy” that appeared in the paper edition of Tri-City News on May 6, 2015, but is not currently available online.

LETTER: Slow and easy, indeed, for PoMo mill site proposal
posted May 7, 2015, Tri-City News

The Editor,

Re. “Slow and easy is the way to proceed with Flavelle plans” (Opinion, The Tri-City News, May 6).

I read with interest the editorial and also have concerns regarding the hasty move forward with plans for the Mill and Timber site on Port Moody’s waterfront.

When the mayor and council were first promoting the new OCP last year, they put on a dog and pony show at city hall. Included were lovely artists’ concepts of the Flavelle site proposed development. They were very well done and quite an improvement on the current eyesore — although the cedar smell is nice wafting around the area.

My questions then were basically the same as now:

  • How is it possible for acceptable access and egress, to allow the number of vehicles and pedestrians that would live in or visit a large development, to be designed? Rocky Point Park is out of bounds and the local streets are already overused.
  • How would emergency vehicles get onto the site during morning and evening rush hours? Any commuter using this area to leave and return already knows of the long waits either way at peak times.
  • What type of remediation is mandated — not suggested — to test the soil for hazardous material and safety?

I hope the mayor and council spend extensive time in discussion before approving any development. Maybe another referendum like that for the proposed transportation tax?

Rod Archibald, Port Moody

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