OCP council meeting, Jan 7, 2014 – media reports

Port Moody makes changes to draft OCP
by Dan Ebenal – The Tri-City News
Jan 9, 2014

A steady stream of concerns from the public has resulted in adjustments to Port Moody’s official community plan.

The major shifts will see the building heights around the old Barnet Hotel site on St. Johns  Street reduced from 26 storeys to six and references limiting building density and limiting heights to 28 storeys removed from the portion covering the city’s waterfront.

Mayor Mike Clay said removing the references on building height and floor space ratio would alleviate fears among the public that the Mill and Timber site would see 28-storey development because that’s what is allowed in the OCP.

“People were concerned that by putting that information in there, we were inferring that that form of development was approved and it would go ahead,” said Clay, adding the Mill and Timber site would go back to being designated a special study area.

Coun. Rick Glumac opposed the changes, saying it takes information out of the OCP and leaves more decisions in the hands of developers.

“This is our opportunity to capture as much as we can from what we’ve heard from the public,” said Glumac, who objected to suggestions that the changes would provide more flexibility for the area. “What are we wanting flexibility with? To go higher than 28 storeys? Is that the kind of flexibility we want?”

Clay rejected that suggestion, saying developments in the area would never exceed 28 storeys and that the site deserves to be viewed on its own through a special study area.

Glumac said concerns from the public prompted him to propose reducing the building heights for the old Barnet Hotel site and five neighbouring properties from 26 storeys down to six, a motion that passed with Clay and councillors Gerry Nuttall and Bob Elliott opposed.

“One of the things I’ve heard on several occasions is concern around the proximity of those potential towers next to single-family residential, with no real transition in between,” said Glumac, adding a high-density development on the corner of St. John’s and Barnet/Albert could also result in severe traffic congestion.

The mayor also successfully pushed through a motion that would allow developers to exceed the 12-storey limit in Moody Centre in exchange for community open space.

“It seems like the primary objection to the density at the Moody Centre transit station is that we don’t have enough parks and green space for these people,” said Clay.

He said the change would allow developers looking to build a 160-unit project on a four-acre site to instead use only one acre for the development and set aside the other three acres for community amenity space.

“We don’t need to do this,” said Glumac, adding it was “throwing out all height allowances” for the area.

Council unanimously approved a motion to develop a neighbourhood plan for the Coronation Park area to determine the appropriate density.

“Coronation Park is going to be a difficult neighbourhood at the best of times. It seems to be almost a 50/50 split,” said Clay, adding this will allow residents to have their own process to determine what the area will look like in the future.

Council also approved a change to the population figures included in the OCP, adjusting the estimate for 2041 from 59,000 down to a projected population of 50,000.

“The numbers are all just speculation at the best of times,” said Clay, adding a 50,000 population is something the community is more comfortable with.

But Glumac said the change in population estimates will allow future councils to better to determine if developments are in keeping with population targets.

“Too much development will destroy the small-town character of Port Moody. We have to preserve what we have here,” he said, pointing out this is the first time SkyTrain has come through a small town.

Staff will now work on the revisions to the OCP before it comes back to council next month, when the public will have another opportunity to provide input. The document will then go to the land use committee before coming back to council for the initial readings of the bylaw. The OCP would then need to be sent to the Metro Vancouver board for comment before going back to public hearing, then to council for final adoption.

debenal@tricitynews.com

****************

Port Moody continues OCP debate
Tri-Cities Now – January 9, 2014

The calendar might have flipped to 2014, but that hasn’t ended debate on future growth in the City of the Arts.

On Tuesday, city council got back to business to work on the 100-page-plus document known as the draft Port Moody official community plan (OCP).

A few changes were made to the document during the course of the committee–of-the-whole discussion, including limiting the old Barnet Hotel site to six storeys and lowering the 30-year population growth estimate to 50,000 from 59,000.

But mostly, the core of the OCP is still intact. And that is drawing a mixed reaction from various councillors.

Coun. Rick Glumac said he put motions forward in an attempt to address residents’ concerns around plans for the oceanfront district and more green space, but they fell short.

“I’m not sure if we’ve addressed [residents’] concerns enough yet,” he told the Tri-Cities NOW, adding he believes there is a way to develop around the Evergreen Line and keep the small-town character of Port Moody.

As for support for the overall plan, Glumac said he’s satisfied with the document if the community is too. However, he said if council hears more opposition from the public to the draft plan, the debate might not be over.

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. All of the changes being proposed in the new OCP are within areas where the new SkyTrain line will run once it’s complete in 2016.

Mayor Mike Clay believes the city is close to coming up with a final OCP, but still has some issues.

Specifically, he said he’s concerned with the amount of “hope” pinned on the west end of the city in terms of development. Clay said he was also perplexed by council’s decision to limit the size of the Barnet Hotel site to six storeys.

Despite some of his reservations, the mayor said it is important the city have some vision out there for the developers already coming into the community buying land and making plans.

“It [the OCP] will evolve over time as the last one did,” Clay said. “It’s like anything, you could get caught up so much in the planning that you forget you’re actually doing something.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth said she is concerned about some of the language in the OCP, including the designation limiting vehicles on Spring Street to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. She believes it sends the wrong message to businesses in the area and put a motion forward to change the document, but it too failed to pass.

Besides that, Dilworth said there appears to be a desire to move on with the OCP. “We’ve worked hard and come a long way,” she said.

Even if the politicians making the final decision on the plan all agreed, the OCP still has a process to go through before it’s on the books.

The OCP will go back to a regular council meeting, probably later this month, before it gets moved to the land use committee for public input, likely in February. From there it goes back to council for first and second reading, then a public hearing potentially in early March.

The document then gets a third reading before being passed to Metro Vancouver Regional District for the Regional Context Statement and Regional Growth Strategy. The final stage involves it coming back to council for adoption.

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