Metro Vancouver to seek public input on Belcarra cottages

Metro Vancouver is kicking off a public consultation process in the hopes community input can help find a way through an impasse with the city of Port Moody over the Belcarra cottages.

Citing increasing demand for the beaches, picnic area and recreational trails within Belcarra Regional Park, a Metro Regional Parks Committee report stated planning for the park will aim to find solutions for the "crowding of public spaces and look for ways to improve parking and non-vehicular access to the park."

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Three years ago Metro planned to demolish the seven cabins, noting their deteriorating condition, but was later blocked by PoMo's passing of a heritage designation bylaw for the six cabins within its jurisdiction (the seventh is located in Belcarra). Residents of the six cabins have lobbied at the municipal and regional level to stay in their homes, noting improvements over the years have been paid for out of their pockets.

Now they're bracing for the outcome of Metro's public engagement process, which will include events at the park through the summer and an online questionnaire.

"We look forward to the opportunity for the public to have input," said Jo Ledingham of the South Belcarra Preservation Society, though she's worried about how the questions will be phrased and whether the fate of six heritage cottages and households will be properly balanced with the desire for increased public access.

Ledingham, who has lived in the lone Belcarra cottage for 52 years, said three of the cottages are on a small pocket beach adjacent to, but not visible from, the picnic area.

"It's kind of a private little beach at any tide lower than 12 feet, which is most of the time," she said, noting people have and are always welcome to use it. "If the beach in front of the picnic area is full people will come here because it's kind of private and secluded. Opening it up will make it just like any other public beach."

The public engagement phase will run until August, followed by concept development and a single preferred design option will be presented to the Metro Vancouver board, municipal partners and stakeholders in the fall.

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