Council Adopts OCP

Zoe Concerned about Adoption of Community Plan.

This week, the majority of Council adopted the new Official Community Plan (OCP); a bedroom community plan that seeks to grow City of Port Moody from 34,000 to 50,000+ people by way of residential condos with almost no job space. A plan that is approximately 95% condos and 5% employment space. Brace yourselves Port Moody: for a lot more traffic congestion and folks forced to commute, taking their discretionary dollars outside the community.

Imagine for a moment, what could have been if the presiding Mayor and Council truly understood sustainability, were open-minded to a plan that set clear limits on condo development with a commitment to protect our small town feel, proposed 40% employment space, an expanded Rocky Point Park, identified a new school site, sports fields and a senior’s centre for the additional 15,000 people proposed to be living here. A plan where the most impacted neighbourhoods were properly consulted and comprehensive neighbourhood concept plans were developed as a result of that consultation. Such a plan would give our residents and investors certainty.

Imagine! Rather than a city of commuters taking their commerce to Vancouver or wherever they work, we could have had jobs right here, good jobs for Port Moody residents to work where they live. And traffic coming from the other direction (for a change) as folks from New West and Burnaby commute to work in Port Moody offices, contributing to a strong Daytime Economy. More folks would be engaged in civic committees and volunteerism. How? Because people that live where they work and don’t spend 2+ hours a day commuting, have more energy for community contribution.

Imagine Rocky Point Park extending onto the Mill site by way of a 50 metre setback of green space around the shoreline and a beautiful promenade for families to continue their stroll in one contiguous sweep all the way to West Port Moody. Imagine seniors housing & Centre in the heart of the city so that our Grandparents would stay. Jobs close to home for Moms and Dads AND youth, more park space to accommodate our residents. A strong, local economy. A plan that demanded the best of design, best imagination and creativity that really smacks of “City of the Arts”, a Destination! A plan with amenities clearly indicated and the space for them reserved *in advance*. A vibrant, resilient, inclusive community where no-one was left behind. A place where families could truly live, work and play. Done right, density is not the enemy. Poor planning is.

Instead, 4000 people are proposed to live on the Mill site in 9 towers. Traffic piling onto Moody at 7 AM, commuters rushing to get to work outside our community. No protected shoreline access as public park in the interest of our community. But that’s just 15% of the plan and 15% of the problem, because we can’t forget the thousands more people slated for Moody Centre and Inlet Centre. As for the amenities… it’s really hard to allocate space for more park or a second recreation centre, after the fact.

Council could have chosen to proceed with a collaborative process with Metro Van, work a bit more on the details of the plan to present what MV asked for and what we promised to do when Port Moody signed onto the Regional Growth Strategy, which was: create an OCP and Regional Contact Statement consistent with the RGS. After all, as a member municipality, that is what Port Moody agreed to.

By adopting this plan last night, battle-seeking Port Moody chose an almost certain future of a long drawn out legal fight with nearly two dozen other cities; members of the Metro Vancouver Regional Governance Board who did not support Port Moody’s plan. A costly battle where two levels of government duke it out, and we, the residents of Port Moody get to foot the bill for legal fees twice. Like long heated custodial suits, it’s a costly battle where there are really no winners.

Details giving our residents and investors certainty, such as location specific density maps, special studies (required with special study areas) appropriate employment space, dedicated amenity space and schools to support a 50% growth in our population are sorely missing from our plan, and not consistent with the Local Government Act’s requirement for new OCP’s. The Mayor and Councillors who adopted the new OCP weren’t even prepared to have a grown-up conversation about it at any point during the last three years of deliberations. Whose interests were they protecting? Do other communities include this information in their OCP’s? They most certainly do. They envision in advance the kind of community they want to have that protects their residents interests with the infrastructure needed to substantiate it.

Why the preceding Mayor and his Council slate didn’t have the good sense to wait just a couple of months till after the election and leave a decision of this magnitude to the incoming Council is beyond me. That would have been true accountability; a Council deciding our future at the most critical time in the history of Port Moody, accountable to the electorate for the next four years, anyway. Why did they agree to a plan where the few that benefit are a handful of landowners who can expect to become very, very wealthy because, residential development is far more profitable than any other form. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to live with the consequences.

Zoë Royer, Councillor, City of Port Moody