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Port Moody to study new 60-acre super park that could include outdoor theatre, memorial space

Port Moody city staff will study the implications of a new super park that would link three pieces of city-owned land — Westhill Park, the Alfred Howe Greenway, and the old landfill site on Barnet Highway.
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Westhill Park would form part of a potential super park in Port Moody's southwest corner that would link it, the Alfred Howe Greenway and new park space on the city's old landfill site along the Barnet Highway. Last Tuesday, council tasked staff to report back on the potential implications of pursuing such a plan that was proposed by Couns. Meghan Lahti and Diana Dilworth.

Port Moody could be getting a new 60-acre super park but it won’t be fully realized anytime soon.

Tuesday, council directed staff to look into the implications of assembling such a park that would essentially combine three pieces of land that the city already owns along its southwest corner:

  • the 31.8-acre Westhill Park
  • the Alfred Howe Greenway that connects to the waterfront at Reed Point
  • the 27.6-acre site of the Port Moody’s old landfill along the Barnet Highway

Councillors said they are especially keen to know how assembling such a park might affect the city’s plan to call for expressions of interest from businesses or developers that might be interested in developing part of the landfill site; that process is set to begin in June.

Port Moody also plans to move its public works yard there in the future.

Coun. Meghan Lahti, who proposed the creation of the new park along with Coun. Diana Dilworth, said it’s possible for park space at the old landfill to co-exist with commercial uses as well as a new works yard.

“I see this as more of a community gathering space than a traditional park,” she said.

The two councillors said the city is in desperate need of park space, especially as residents move into planned new developments in areas like Moody Centre, Woodlands and possibly the old Andrés Wines property.

In a report, Lahti and Dilworth said the super park would also take some of the heat off Rocky Point Park in the city’s downtown, as well as Bert Flinn Park on the north shore, that are becoming increasingly crowded.

Moreover, they added, by connecting and enhancing properties the city already owns, the new park could be created at a fraction of the cost of acquiring private land.

“The vision of the assembly of public lands for parks space is to provide for an inclusive, welcoming space that contributes to the health and wellness of our community,” said the report. “This new space can be planned and designed to include features that we do not necessarily have in our other parks.”

Lahti and Dilworth suggested some of those features could include:

  • youth park, including a skateboard park or trials riding obstacles
  • sports courts for pickle ball, tennis and basketball
  • community gardens
  • off-leash dog areas
  • outdoor theatre and concert space
  • columbarium and memorial space
  • playground equipment accessible to all ages and abilities
  • outdoor games like chess and ping pong tables

But, Dilworth told council, “we’re not suggesting all of these opportunities be embraced. Even one or two would be a step in the right direction.”

Some councillors, though, balked at the potential expense of developing such a super park, as well as ongoing maintenance costs. “Adding to our existing parkland is important, but we also can’t dig the city into a financial hole,” Coun. Steve Milani said.

Mayor Rob Vagramov echoed his sentiment, but also said the project represents “something positive” council and the community could work on together.

Coun. Hunter Madsen questioned the wisdom of putting a park on an old landfill site that he said is comprised of “leaking, sinking hillsides of garbage.”

But Dilworth said it’s important to get the conversation about a new park started, even if the plan doesn’t come to fruition for 20 or 30 years. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to start a discussion about a park that would leave a legacy,” she said.

Lahti compared the early pitch for a new super park to the formative stages of the process that led to the creation of Bert Flinn Park, on land that was slated for possible housing development but is now a 311-acre forested green space laced with hiking and biking trails.

“Had we not taken those steps back then, we could not have realized the benefit to the community,” she said.