Port Moody is giving up an opportunity to showcase its waterfront by turning its back on Murray Street and preferring an Evergreen Line station on the west side of the city.
That’s the view of a group calling itself the Port Moody Waterfront Community Interest Group, which is critical of council’s preference for a western station over one closer to the centre of town, at the West Coast Express, which the Ministry of Transportation has chosen.
Barry Sharbo, a landowner on Murray Street whose vision has the support of several adjacent property owners, is concerned placing stations on either end of the city ignores the potential of a transit-oriented waterfront community closer to the centre of town.
The group is promoting the idea of mixed-use development along Murray Street, including live-work spaces and mid-rise residential and commercial buildings that would complement existing industrial uses. It envisions Murray Street as a local road with lots of space for parking and wide, tree-lined sidewalks and boulevards for pedestrians and cyclists. Service traffic would be directed to a lane behind the buildings, next to the railway tracks.
Sharbo, who has hired architect Richard Balfour to give shape to a waterfront vision, says Port Moody should slow down traffic on Murray Street, especially close to Rocky Point Park, instead of pushing for construction of the Murray-Clarke Connector.
A landowner since 1979, Sharbo said little has changed along Murray Street, with the exception of the redevelopment of Rocky Point Park, which he says was beautifully made over. With its pool, spray park, colourful plantings and modern and well-designed facilities, the park is now a premier destination for the city, he says, and putting four lanes of traffic next to it doesn’t make sense.
Instead, the city should be capitalizing on its investment and the waterfront potential. “It’s an opportunity no other city has. It’s too valuable to throw away,” he said.
Sharbo and Balfour say the city doesn’t have to give up industrial land to redevelop Moody Street. Acknowledging council’s concerns about the loss of industrial tax base, the two say light industrial, of the kind currently in the area, can co-exist and they don’t want towers, either. “They destroy the view corridor,” noted Balfour, who said the city can get high densities to support transit with shorter, six-storey, terraced buildings that butt up against the sidewalk.
They presented a proposal for amending the official community plan to create a single downtown core allowing for mixed-use development in December but their ideas were received without comment.
The two haven’t given up on the One City Core designation for Port Moody and have a new slogan for Murray Street: “A shopping street, not a freeway.”
They hope to get a second look from the Ministry of Transportation and the city, which will have to revisit its OCP sooner or later to take into account the changes that will be wrought by the Evergreen Line.
• For more information on the Port Moody Waterfront Community Interest Group, visit www.murraystreet.citymax.com.