Apr 25,2008 - Tri City News

By Sarah Payne - The Tri-City News - April 25, 2008
There’s only one chance to make a first impression and Port Moody’s official community plan didn’t make a very good one.

Staff presented the first draft of the new OCP to a standing-room only crowd at the Glenayre community centre Tuesday night and neither council nor the 60-plus residents were very pleased. There were ripples of displeasure throughout the crowd as city planner Mary de Paoli presented highlights of the new plan, which envisions several multi-family development areas with low to high-rise towers at the Heritage Mountain Shopping Village, at a new waterfront village at PoMo’s western gateway and along Moody Centre.

But more than any one change in the OCP it was the plan as a whole — if fully realized within its five-year life span the population of Port Moody would be more than 44,000 — that riled community members.

“I’m very concerned with the way Port Moody is going,” said Eric Stansfield, who has formed a group of concerned residents and a website (www.newportvillagevoice.ca). “Let’s catch our breath, stand back. This is a jewel.”

Director of planning Tim Savoie stressed that the OCP is a vision document that only guides the future development of Port Moody and doesn’t obligate council to approve developments.

Drafting of the new OCP started in September 2006, followed by several community workshops and consultations with civic committees and a Moody Centre design charette last January.

Highlights of the new plan include:

• Waterfront Village area (sawmill): development of a residential, commercial, marina, industrial, institutional and public open space with building heights from low to high-rises up to 26 storeys;

• Inlet Centre (Heritage Village shopping mall): development of low to high-rise forms of pedestrian-oriented areas including residential, retail, office and recreational uses, with building heights up to 26 storeys;

• Barnet hotel area: shift from single family to multi-family residential of low and mid-rise buildings up to 12 storeys.

• Moody Centre: the diversity of land use designations will be largely consolidated into Mixed Use - Moody Centre entailing the development of retail, service and office uses, as well as multi-family residential uses with building heights of up to three and four storeys, including on the north side of St. Johns Street, depending on the specific area. Buildings higher than four storeys will be considered for developments around anticipated rapid transit stations.

• St. Johns Street: the document also calls for more focused efforts to spruce up St. Johns Street and turn it into a pedestrian-friendly environment through a mix of medium and high-density housing, discouraging commercial developments that contribute to the “strip” image of the street, encouraging a variety of owned and rental housing types and adding landscaping and special lighting.

Tuesday’s committee of the whole agenda called for OCP introduction and input but the latter part was cut short after Mayor Joe Trasolini raised concerns about the process. He said he needed at least four hours to discuss his thoughts on the draft plan but was reluctant to entertain a motion for deferral, saying council had to receive the report in order to work on it further.

After several minutes of heated discussion, councillors agreed to the deferral with assurances they would be able to meet with staff and give their input on the draft plan. Additional workshops and open houses for the public may be scheduled for this spring.