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Port Moody makes changes to draft OCP

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.

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.

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