There will be no road through Port Moody’s Bert Flinn Park.
Tuesday, a majority of council voted to adopt a series of bylaw amendments to the city's official community plan (OCP) to limit development of PoMo’s portion of the Ioco lands to its current zoning for 253 housing units. It also eliminated references in the OCP that would make any development of that property contingent on changing the gravel right-of-way through the park into a paved roadway connected to David Avenue.
The result came despite an 11th-hour effort by councillors Meghan Lahti, Diana Dilworth and Zoe Royer to defer the vote for adoption or defeat it outright so the future of the right-of-way could be put to city voters in a referendum in the next civic election.
Coun. Hunter Madsen said a referendum would be pointless.
Prior to being elected to council in 2017, Madsen was a leader of a group formed to prevent a road from being built through the 311-acre park — which itself was created by a referendum vote in the 1990s. He said the issue had already been hashed out for years and he was “quite confident people would go for unification of the park.”
That’s not what councillors heard from several speakers during the public hearing that preceded Tuesday’s meeting as all but one implored council to retain the right-of-way through Bert Flinn.
Many said having an additional road would relieve traffic pressure on Ioco Road, especially as the village of Anmore begins considering a development plan for the portion of the Ioco property inside its boundaries that could almost triple its population to 6,400 residents.
Several said the two-lane thoroughfare that links Port Moody with Anmore and the village of Belcarra is already a safety hazard, especially in summertime, when visitors from all over Metro Vancouver travel along it to Belcarra and Buntzen Lake regional parks.
Others worried the absence of another road would make it unsafe for residents to escape a wildfire, or for emergency vehicles to get to the scene of a disaster.
Madsen called their fears unfounded. He said building an additional road is a “false solution” to any increase in population at the Ioco lands, Anmore or Belcarra, adding drivers would still likely use Ioco Road as the most direct route into Port Moody and beyond. He said if the villages pursue population growth, they should look for access options through their communities.
But Royer said Port Moody shouldn’t turn its back on its much smaller neighbours, which consider the city as their gateway to the rest of Metro Vancouver.
“It’s not gracious to just plough forward,” she said, suggesting councillors from the three communities need to work together to find a common solution.
Dilworth agreed, saying, “These are not minor stakeholders we can dismiss.”
A letter from the mayor of Anmore implored council to consider the effects the elimination of an option to build a connector route from David Avenue would have on that community. John McEwen said it would be a “disservice” resulting in “untenable traffic and goods transportation on Ioco Road and impacts emergency response for Anmore and Belcarra.”
Lahti, who fought for creation of the park beginning in 1996, said the last thing she wants to see is a paved road cut through it. But, she said, the pressure to do that will only grow as the region’s population increases and removing an option to relieve that pressure could have ramifications council hasn’t even thought of.
“We need to take a step back,” she said.
Mayor Rob Vagramov, however, said removing the prospect of a road going through Bert Flinn park is a “great move forward,” adding other measures like imposing a 30 km/h speed limit on Ioco could be implemented to make that route safer.
For more on this story: