Port Moody council wants more say in Moody Centre development

A consortium of property owners and developers will get a chance to present its preliminary plan for the 23-acre neighbourhood around the Moody Centre SkyTrain station at an upcoming meeting of Port Moody's committee of the whole.

But several councillors said they don’t like what they’ve seen so far from the group, which has been working with the city for almost two years.

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At its meeting Tuesday, council passed a motion inviting representatives of the consortium — which includes Anthem Properties, PCI Group and Beedie Living as well as TransLink and several smaller property owners — to share its ideas for the Moody Centre transit-oriented development area and answer questions.

But it also let the group know it expects to see more emphasis on creating “high-value” employment opportunities in the high-tech and education fields, more affordable housing units and fewer highrise towers.

The consortium first revealed its preliminary concepts for the area at a series of invitation-only workshops in late September. Those include transforming several blocks of light industrial buildings and auto repair shops into a dense urban neighbourhood comprising 3,775 homes, including 300 to 385 market rental apartments and 70 to 90 below-market units, as well as retail, office and light industrial spaces that could employ up to 1,400 people.

The plans were the result of more than 18 months of work with city staff.

But that process rubbed Mayor Rob Vagramov the wrong way. He said too much has happened “behind closed doors” without council’s involvement and he wants it to be able to provide “unsolicited feedback on council’s temperature.”

Tim Grant of PCI Group said while the consortium welcomes further collaboration with the community, mayor and council, he told councillors any motion to curb the process is “premature.”

Anthem’s Rob Blackwell accused council of creating “policy on the fly.”

Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed, saying any move by council to stick its nose into the consultation process even before the public has had a chance to see the consortium’s vision “is really hijacking a group process.”

“It’s not fair," she added.

Coun. Diana Dilworth said council needs to respect the consortium’s public consultations, which are set to begin later this month, as its plans could yet change drastically based upon feedback it has received from the community.

But Coun. Hunter Madsen, who in July introduced a plan to emphasize high-tech jobs in the Moody Centre plan, said the scale of the project and its importance to the city demand a hands-on approach by council.

“This is what we should be discussing and we should be doing it in public,” he said.

Coun. Zoe Royer, who also supported more council involvement as the consortium moves forward, cautioned it’s too soon to base development plans for the neighbourhood on attracting major high-tech employers.

“If you don’t know when you’re going to be building something, how could you even predict your anchor tenant?” she said.

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