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April 15,2010 The Now News

When building a city, you have to consider all factors -- even if that means accommodating artists, creepy-crawlies and everything in between.

The City of Port Moody is in the home stretch of completing its official community plan (OCP), after council approved the draft plan at Tuesday's meeting.

The 252-page document has been a decade in the making, as the previous OCP was adopted in November of 2000. The OCP review process began in 2006, and has involved two neighbourhood workshops in each of the five pockets of town, surveys, design charrettes at Moody Centre, working group sessions and a healthy e-mail distribution list to send out regular updates.

The first draft was completed in May 2009, and council feedback has since been incorporated into the document.

OCPs are typically documents that map out land use in a community, but policy planner Mary De Paoli said Port Moody wants to take a more holistic approach to the city's plan. That meant getting a bit creative at times in soliciting feedback.

"We had an art project for the schools at one point, to look at the students' vision for the future," she said.

De Paoli said there's a greater focus on environmental issues like sustainability and protection in this OCP, and a new chapter on energy and air emissions.

"That's provided an opportunity for us to summarize some of the initiatives that council's already been doing in terms of energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," she said, adding it opens the door for community-wide greenhouse gas emission targets and developing a green building policy.

The natural environment chapter will also include the city's stable of environmentally sensitive management strategies, to include development permit guidelines that would cover those sensitive areas, as well as policies relating to species at risk and habitat protection as part of development review. Bird-friendly development guidelines are also included.

"There's a greater focus on urban forestry area now, and doing more in that area of urban forest management, reforestation and tree retention."

The City of the Arts also decided to include a chapter on -- you guessed it -- arts, culture and heritage preservation.

"I think the branding of City of the Arts happened afterward, just after or perhaps was in development" while the old OCP was being drafted, De Paoli said with a chuckle. "It's a way for us to showcase that and being a bit unique that way. We've included our public art policies in there and looking at links between heritage, arts, culture and tourism."

Transportation has been a hot topic for the city, which has been grappling with issues of growth as it waits for the long-anticipated Evergreen Line and Murray-Clarke Connector. While the plan includes those items, De Paoli said the city also wants to include policies on expanding pedestrian and cycling routes, as well as encourage alternative modes of transportation.

Residents can peruse the draft and give feedback on Monday, April 26. An all-day open house will be held that day in the Galleria, followed by a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. in Inlet Theatre at City Hall.

The city is anticipating the process will wrap up this fall.

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