Future of PoMo properties will need more consultation

More public consultation will be needed before Port Moody council decides what is to become of former fire hall site and the public works yard nearby.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, council narrowly defeated a motion to send a proposal to amend the city’s official community plan and zoning for the two properties directly to a public hearing on March 13. Instead, the plan will be referred to the community planning advisory committee (CPAC) for further review.

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“This property is owned by the city and it behooves us to have the highest layer of transparency,” said Coun. Diana Dilworth.

But Mayor Mike Clay said the city has already been consulting with the public for three years to determine the future of the properties that are adjacent to the civic centre, at Ioco Road and Murray Street.

“I think it’s dangerous to put CPAC in the middle of something the community has been working on for a long time,” Clay said. “It’s time to get on with it.”

The city is considering selling the properties for redevelopment and allowing construction of three or four residential towers up to 34 storeys, plus commercial space as well as possible housing for seniors, below-market rental housing and even space for a new library. The latter would be achieved as density bonuses for allowing developers to build higher than the 26 storeys currently allowed in the Inlet Centre transit-oriented development area.

In a report presented to council, Port Moody’s general manager of finance and technology, Paul Rockwood, said the site “presents a unique opportunity to provide a landmark development like Newport Village, Suter Brook and Klahanie.”

He said there has been “strong developer interest” in purchasing the sites and developing them according to parameters, which include provisions for public space, environmental enhancements to Suter Brook Creek, which runs through the site, road improvements and building a range of housing.

Proceeds from the sale of the properties could be used to build a new public works yard, upgrade playing fields at Inlet Park, purchase more park land and help repay municipal debt.

Rosemary Lodge, Port Moody’s manager of communications and engagement, said a public information meeting held Dec. 4 recorded 63% support for redeveloping the 19,000-square metre site while 25% of survey respondents did not want to see any kind of development. Respondents to indicated concerns about traffic congestion and parking problems, as well as its environmental impact and the diminution of Port Moody’s “community feel.”

Coun. Hunter Madsen said selling the properties to developers to put up highrise condos “is an abdication of our responsibility to hold onto this valuable land for future generations.”

He said it would also restrict the city’s ability to expand its adjacent civic centre.

“Where is the vision of the staff and council for thinking ahead to the community’s future needs?”

Jan. 31, 2018: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Port Moody's general manager of finance and technology. The correct spelling is Paul Rockwood.

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