UPDATED: Will Port Moody businesses pay for parklets?

Port Moody could soon be getting more parks. But it’s expecting someone else to pay for them, and they won’t feature traditional open green space or playgrounds.

At its meeting Tuesday, city council approved the implementation of a pilot program for the installation of small parklets in the city’s commercial districts, such as Clarke, St. Johns, Murray, Queens and Kyle streets. The parklets, which are portable structures usually built on two or three curbside parking spaces, would be privately funded and maintained by neighbouring businesses under the city's plan.

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The parklet program will require sponsoring businesses to pay a $150 application fee as well as provide documented support from at least 65% of businesses in the same block as the proposed parklet. Applicants will also have to pay a $2,000 damage deposit that would be refunded when the parklet is dismantled after a period of one to 10 years. Businesses applying for a parklet will have to have at least $3 million liability insurance and the contractor building the parklet will also have to have at least $1 million liability coverage.

While Coun. Steve Milani said he likes the program’s lack of cost to the city, other than some staff time to review applications and plans, Coun. Diana Dilworth expressed reservations that building a parklet could be “cost-prohibitive for some of our smaller businesses.” She suggested they might be able to partner with other businesses or community associations.

In a report presented to council, Joji Kumagai, Port Moody’s manager of economic development, said the cost for building a parklet can range, depending on its size and complexity.

A problematic parklet in New Westminster’s Uptown neighbourhood was recently redesigned at a cost of $15,000 to discourage loiterers who were hanging out on its Adirondack chairs, smoking, drinking and disrupting the neighbourhood.

Kumagai said the miniature parks, which are temporary and open to public use, can “facilitate community building and help create lively, vibrant places.” He said they can include elements like tables, chairs and benches for seating, bicycle parking, public art, umbrellas and landscaping features to encourage people to gather and linger awhile.

“Communities benefit from having greater access to usable public spaces that can improve the pedestrian experience, boost public safety and connectedness through greater foot traffic, and enable community conversations,” Kumagai said.

In his report, Kumagai said since the first parklet was built in San Francisco in 2010, similar spaces have been placed in cities around the world, including Vancouver and New Westminster, where the latter city has designed and built three parklet’s since 2015.

Design requirements mandated by Port Moody for its parklets include being wheelchair accessible and having no impact on existing city infrastructure such as street landscaping, catch basins or utility connections. The parklets also can’t feature any kind of corporate branding, including company and sponsor logos.

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