Moody Centre consortium says it was 'blindsided' by Port Moody mayor

A consortium of developers and property owners says it has been “blindsided” by a motion being put forth by Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov that would cut off at the knees its preliminary plans to transform 23 acres of light industrial and commercial property adjacent to the Moody Centre SkyTrain station into a dense, mixed-use urban neighbourhood.

Tim Grant of PCI Developments Corp. said the group, which also includes Beedie Living, Anthem, Woodbridge Homes and the architectural firm Perkins & Will, has had several meetings with Port Moody’s mayor and council in the past year and was assured “of a collective commitment to transparent, collaborative engagement to develop a master plan for the Moody Centre transit-oriented-development area.”

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In a report being presented to council Tuesday, Vagramov calls upon the consortium to focus on “high-value employment” in technology and science industries, reduce the number of residential towers and “significantly” increase the amount of market rental and below-market rental units in those towers. As well, he wants more green space and “exciting architecture that adds distinctiveness to the neighbourhood.”

To add force to his wish list, Vagramov also wants an upcoming revision of the city’s official community plan to focus primarily on creating affordable residential units as well as employment opportunities in the neighbourhood.

The consortium recently held a series of workshops with various stakeholders in the community to unveil its preliminary concept for the neighbourhood, after working with city staff for almost two years.

That concept includes up to 3,775 homes in several towers of varying heights, as well as retail, office and light industrial spaces that could employ up to 1,400 people. 

Virendra Kallianpur, the associate principal of the project’s design consultants, Perkins & Will, said the project would also comprise 300 to 385 market rental apartments and 70 to 90 below-market units, along with an expansive public plaza, smaller pocket parks, a newly daylighted Dallas Creek and traffic-calming along Spring Street.

He said the project is “about redefining the future of Port Moody.”

But in his report, Vagramov said that vision for the future “has generated concern.”

He said the consortium’s plan for 3,775 residential units could bring more than 7,500 residents into the neighbourhood, far above the city’s OCP for the area, which projects a population of less than 3,400. He said that “vastly exceeds” a “worst-case scenario.” for over-densification.

But Grant said from comments collected during the week of consultation meetings in late September, Vagramov’s motion “does not reflect general public sentiment.” He said the consortium is preparing for its next round of public consultation, which will be open to all residents, and the group’s plans will be further tweaked from there.

“Our goal is to introduce our updated proposal based on public feedback early in the new year,” he said.

Port Moody council meets starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Inlet Theatre at city hall.

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