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Vagramov, Madsen move to block Bert Flinn Park road option

Port Moody’s new mayor is wasting no time acting on one of the cornerstone issues of his campaign platform.
Rob Vagramov
Port Moody mayor Rob Vagramov visits the old roadbed through Bert Flinn park after he was elected on Oct. 20. Vagramov is proposing a series of resolutions at council on Tuesday to remove the roadbed's designation at a right-of-way and enhance recreational access to the park, while restricting development of the Ioco lands to current zoning bylaws.

Port Moody’s new mayor is wasting no time acting on one of the cornerstone issues of his campaign platform.

In a report to be presented to council at its next meeting next Tuesday, Rob Vagramov is proposing resolutions to remove the right-of-way designation from the old roadbed that bisects Bert Flinn Park and to incorporate the current path that is popular with hikers and dog walkers into the park for recreational use.

Vagramov and the report’s co-author, Coun. Hunter Madsen — who started the Save Bert Flinn Park group before he first ran for office — are also calling for an amendment to the city’s official community plan (OCP) to restrict future development of the Ioco Lands to the density that is already permitted under its current zoning.

“Protecting quality of life on Port Moody’s north shore is a top concern for residents and must be a top priority for the city as it guides future development in the area,” said the report.

Vagramov and Madsen also criticize the previous council, on which Vagramov was a councillor, for not being proactive enough about the direction for potential development of the Ioco lands after the 252-acre property was acquired by developer Brilliant Circle Group in 2015. 

Since then, the developer held several open houses and workshops to determine a vision for the site, which straddles the border between Port Moody and Anmore and used to be the townsite for workers at the nearby Imperial Oil refinery. Brilliant Circle has also been through two architects.

The latest, Peter Busby, told The Tri-City News in 2017 he envisioned a vibrant, waterfront-focussed community with recreational, social and educational opportunities for residents, as well as shops and services.

“The challenge is to find the right mix,” he said, adding the construction of an additional traffic route to the property would be a key ingredient for the development’s success.

But in their report to council, Vagramov and Madsen said Port Moody’s previous strategy of waiting for the builder to make a formal land-use proposal before determining how to deal with the traffic development would bring “sparked concern among some north shore residents.”

Vagramov and Madsen said building a road through the park “would be deeply unpopular” and degrade the park for recreational users. They’re proposing, instead, recreational use of the park be enhanced with more and better parking as well as the construction of a wheelchair accessible trail.

Last July, Port Moody council voted to keep the right-of-way through the park, that has been part of the city’s plans since the 1980s, as an option for a future road link to the Ioco lands.

The decision came after two hours of public input and a two-and-a-half hour public hearing during which 32 speakers supported retaining the right of way while seven were opposed. A staff report cited limited capacity of the existing traffic corridor along Ioco Road to handle more vehicles from new development.

The right-of-way was originally retained when the park was created after a referendum in 1999. Vagramov previously proposed a resolution to remove that designation in 2016, when he was a councillor.

— with a file from Grant Granger

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