A bylaw that amends Port Moody’s official community plan to prioritize higher-density development in areas well-served by public transit and public amenities like parks, schools and commercial services was adopted by council on Tuesday.
But newly-minted councillor Hunter Madsen said the policy that will help council make decisions on future developments ignores “the great big elephant in the room” — traffic congestion.
Madsen, who was elected to council in a byelection on Sept. 30, said leaving consideration of the impact higher density development could have on road congestion in the city out of the new policy is a “serious oversight.” So he proposed an amendment to the policy that higher-density developments couldn’t “add significantly to local road congestion.”
“It’s the number one quality of life concern of Port Moody residents,” Madsen said.
Coun. Zoe Royer, the only other councillor at Tuesday’s meeting to support Madsen’s amendment, said she couldn’t think of anywhere in the city where any kind of new development wouldn’t add traffic.
But Coun. Barb Junker said the impact on traffic is always a consideration when new developments are proposed.
“I don’t think council is overlooking it,” she said.
Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed traffic congestion is an important issue in the city, but that adding it as part of city policy on development isn’t “the right place.”
But Madsen said that’s exactly where it should happen.
“We’re basically saying we’re willing to put this at the beginning of discussions of development projects,” Madsen said.
Coun. Diana Dilworth said measuring the impact of development on road congestion is hard to pin down.
“On some roadways 80 additional cars wouldn’t add significant congestion but on others it would,” she said.
But Madsen said it would be easy enough to measure traffic and compare it to the current capacity of roadways in the city.
“I think we all know what significant levels of congestion feels like.”