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Could Ioco townsite’s 100th anniversary be the spark Port Moody needs to save it?

Councillors say preserving the old company town would be a lasting legacy.
Ioco townsite
The clock is ticking on several structures at the old Ioco townsite says a heritage advocate as Port Moody council commits to further discussions with property owners about restoring the old company town.

A Port Moody heritage advocate says a renewed commitment by the city to engage various property owners at the old Ioco townsite needs to make tangible progress by the end of the year if the heritage structures are to be in any kind of condition worthy of a 100th anniversary celebration in 2021.

Robert Simons said the city needs to get owners like Gilic Developments, Imperial Oil and School District 43 on board “to deal more collaboratively on a revitalization plan” for the enclave of homes, a grocerteria and community hall that once housed workers at the nearby refinery.

He said the approaching centenary should be a “catalyst for positive actions.”

Tuesday, in response to a delegation last January from the Port Moody Heritage Society, council agreed action needs to be taken — and quickly.

“We have the opportunity to be a little more aggressive in our dealings with the other owners,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth. “They have an ethical and moral commitment to work to preserve the heritage which is denigrating very, very quickly.”

Dilworth said saving the townsite once and for all would be long-lasting legacy of the current council.

But Simons said it would barely make up for time lost since the site was turned into a special heritage conservation area in 2002. Some work has been accomplished to help maintain some of the vacant structures, such as the installation of electric heating and tarping of roofs to help keep the interiors dry, but others have fallen into severe disrepair.

Simons said he’s particularly concerned about the state of the old Ioco school, across 1st Avenue from the townsite proper. He said the city needs to work with the school district, that still owns the building, to determine if it is still structurally sound and have any issues resolved.

Simons said that if all the parties come together and progress towards preservation is made, the townsite has the potential to become a destination.

“Collective effort by all parties that commit to a plan for preservation and revitalization would be a desirable outcome of the anniversary,” he said.

Celebrations for Port Moody's oldest resident

Another champion for saving the Ioco townsite, Mary Anne Cooper, will have her upcoming 106th birthday officially recognized by the city.

Last Tuesday, council declared Oct. 25 to 31 will be Mary Anne Cooper week, and city hall will be lit with red spotlights, her favourite colour. As well, a collection box for cards as well as congratulatory messages will be set out, and a digital method of collecting tributes will also be explored.