Port Moody Official Community Plan (OCP) – Citizens’ analysis raises alarm bells. OCP suddenly on agenda for Nov 5

Port Moody map 2013Next up for the civic spotlight Metro Vancouver — Port Moody. We have been following developments here as another case study, in the context of the Regional Growth Strategy and transit issue.

Port Moody’s draft Official Development Plan is on the agenda for Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, from 5:30 to 7 pm. Please click here to download the agenda, documents (warning — 454 pages total, 44.4 MB in PDF — note that actual the OCP starts on p193/454), and live video link:
http://www.portmoody.ca/index.aspx?page=322

Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA) has been fully engaged in the planning process for months and checking the city website daily for news on an updated draft OCP. City planners were circumspect, but suddenly, on October 31, voila, it was on the agenda for November 5. It would not be an understatement to say that the community has been caught by surprise. How can any elected official, individual or stakeholder group review such a voluminous document in just a couple working days and have meaningful opinion? For the community, MCCA is trying a superhuman effort to do so, and we hope they will be able to share observations of the content with us here within a short time.

Meanwhile, for the record, and for background, below we share verbatim the MCCA newsletters to members from September 28, October 6, and October 19. You can see that Council and city staff went painstakingly through the draft OCP, chapter by chapter, in September, in meetings open to the public. A town hall meeting is also supposed to happen, but City Hall has given no further indication as to when.

Below we carry newsletters from the Moody Centre Community Association. More news coming soon. They might appreciate help from people with a planning background to wade through and find critical issues.

From: MCCA PortMoody <mcca.pm@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 19, 2013 at 6:54 PM
Subject: Community update – OCP next steps, and other items Dear residents,

Below are updates on the Official Community Plan (OCP) and other items.

  1. OCP next steps
  2. Skytrain elevation through Port Moody
  3. Evergreen Line stations – no extra density required for Moody Centre and Ioco stations
  4. Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy – requests for zoning changes
  5. Concert in celebration of Port Moody’s centennial year – November 1, 2013

OCP next steps

Council directed city staff to update the draft OCP about 3 weeks ago (Sept. 30).

I asked the city planning department when staff would have the updated draft OCP completed, and the estimated dates/timeline for more review, town hall(s), public input, etc.

On Friday, October 18, the planning manager said:  “We are currently updating the DRAFT OCP following Council’s review in September.  Once these are complete we will be presenting the updated DRAFT at a Committee of the Whole meeting for further Council review.  A date for this has not yet been set.  A Town Hall Meeting would likely be scheduled following this review according to Council’s direction.”

As you can see above, no dates or timelines were provided.

At the upcoming Oct. 22, 2013 council meeting, item 6.2, Request from Metro Vancouver to provide a timeline for submission of Port Moody’s Regional Context Statement, dated October 3, 2013, states:  “An updated DRAFT OCP which includes Council’s comments has now been completed and feedback from the public is ongoing. This document includes a DRAFT Regional Context Statement which will continue to be refined as part of this update process. … [which] would typically be submitted following Public Hearing and Third Reading of a new Official Community Plan Bylaw. … ready for submission by early 2014.”

What does this mean?  Hard to know.  It sounds as if the updated draft has in fact been completed.  When will residents get to see the plan?  Not sure.  Will there be another town hall?  Not sure.

 Skytrain elevation through Port Moody

Now that construction is underway, people have been surprised to learn that the Evergreen Line on the south shore of Port Moody will have two sections of elevated track:  (1) where the line exits the western tunnel at Schoolhouse Creek, and (2) where it will be elevated to go over the existing CPR train route at about Moray St (Klahanie area).

The Evergreen Line overall general map shows a solid green line through Port Moody as “at-grade” so that is what people have expected.  However, it has an asterisk that is very easy to miss.  The asterisk says:

*Except where required to cross existing roads, CPR tracks and creeks

MCCA newsletter transit map 22-Oct-2013 MCCA newsletter transit map 22-Oct-2013 legend

It is a mystery as to why the overall map didn’t show “light green” for elevated tracks in the two affected areas.

 I called the Evergreen Project Office, and was told there is no public information available yet on details regarding elevated spans and heights – but that it should be available very soon.

You can see the map and other information at this link:
http://www.evergreenline.gov.bc.ca/consultation.htm

Evergreen Line stations – no extra density required for Moody Centre and Ioco stations

In the agenda for the Oct. 8, 2013 council meeting, there is a section at the end – 9.2.  One of the items is MoT – West Port Moody Station.  Check it out.  It contains a series of letters from the Ministry of Transportation Evergreen Line Rapid Transit Project and the City of Port Moody.  The agenda is 226 pages – this item starts on page 196.

It recaps the whole process of why the two stations are where they are, and why the potential station at the western end of Moody Centre is a problem.  It says Ioco station was chosen because of the existing density, and Moody Centre by West Coast Express was chosen because it is an existing transit hub.  On page 203, there is also a stated requirement that the “guideway should remain at grade or below grade through Port Moody.”

http://www.portmoody.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=5748

 Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy – requests for zoning changes

On Friday, Oct. 11, the Metro Vancouver board met to discuss the regional growth strategy.  Langley applied to have 3 areas changed to residential – two were agricultural land areas, and one was industrial.  All requests were denied as “Directors cited a dangerous precedent that would be set … if the requests had been granted.”  As most of you will know, PortMoody is proposing major zoning changes; e.g., industrial port lands to residential and other uses.

The Tri-City News has an article on this:

Metro Vancouver rejects urbanization of Langley farmland [and industrial]
http://www.tricitynews.com/news/227424881.html

Concert in celebration of Port Moody’s centennial year

The Maple Leaf Singers will perform on The Stage of The Inlet Theatre on Friday , November 1st, at 7:30 pm.  Their show is “Ooh’s and OZ” and will feature JENNIFER GILLIS of (CBC’s) Wizard of Oz fame!  Tickets can be purchased ($15.00 )from:  The Railway Museum, The Port Moody Legion, and Port Moody City Hall.  All proceeds go to the promotion of musical arts in The City.  More information:  information@mapleleafsingers.com / www.mapleleafsingers.com

An article of interest:

Lower Mainland’s anti-development activists a force to be reckoned with

FRANCES BULA – VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, Oct. 12 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Online:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/lower-mainlands-anti-development-activists-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with/article14850366/

 Please feel free to forward this email.

As always, we welcome your comments and input to MCCA.

Regards,
Hazel Mason, President
Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA)

***********************************

From: MCCA PortMoody
Date: Sun, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM
Subject: OCP draft review by council completed on Sept. 30; summary and next steps
To: MCCA PortMoody

Greetings,

Council wrapped up its latest review of the draft OCP on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.

The town hall meeting for the public to respond, originally planned for Sept. 30, has been postponed to a date to be determined

City staff are updating the draft plan based on city council’s direction.

The revised plan will then go back to council, and eventually to the public for comment.

It is expected that the updates and council review will take at least another two weeks, and then we hope adequate time will be allowed for public review before the town hall meeting.

Over the three meetings council held to discuss the draft plan, some areas were changed to reduce the total building heights, some areas changed to increase total building heights, and one area reverts to status quo (Coronation Park).  Overall, it is clear the plan still aims to add major population density to Port Moody.  Many related plans (e.g., parks and recreation) have not been completed.  The city has not explained why this is a good plan of benefit to the city and residents.  The only clear reason given is that “Skytrain is coming.”

There has been no discussion of Port Moody’s unique geography, and the fact that most of lower Port Moody is in a danger zone for soil liquefaction in the event of an earthquake. There has been lip service to air quality concerns but no concrete plans to manage or reduce carbon emissions – which could become a bigger problem with more people and vehicles. Many important issues remain unaddressed.

Most of the discussion on the draft OCP has dealt with how to increase population – and how high and dense buildings should be.  Development has dominated the discussions.

At the Sept. 30th meeting, some of the items discussed were:

Heritage Commercial District on Clarke St. – Councillor Nuttall proposed increasing the height limit to 6 storeys on the 2200 block of Clarke (currently a maximum of 3 to protect heritage); motion was defeated.

Oceanfront District (current sawmill site west of Rocky Point Park) – no real changes, still up to 28 storeys on map.  [Oceanfront District is not within 400m of a station on the city’s circle map.]

Moody Centre Transit-Oriented Development Area – accounted for about 15 minutes worth of discussion; no significant changes made, so map will show up to 12 storeys.  Councillor Glumac questioned the term “transit-oriented development” since council had earlier agreed to remove the term.  The area is a “transit node” – not an urban transit centre.  Several blocks on St. George St. are still proposed to change from single-family to multi-family, though the neighbourhood was not directly consulted.

Discussion of Coronation Park – council previously agreed to change the draft to the way Coronation Park has been traditionally – mostly single-family.  Councillors also agreed, though, that it should still be included within the Inlet Centre Transit-Oriented Development Area, because future “flexibility” may be needed.

Motions to increase height/storey allowances up to 12 storeys – outside of the 400m transit station radius – e.g., buildings east of the pedestrian bridge from St. John’s to Klahanie.  The “TOD circles” appear to be very “flexible” in order to allow increased population density in Port Moody.

Council acknowledged that plans related to the OCP such as parks and recreation, transportation, and parking issues still need to be worked on, and their immediate “solution” is to add some bullet points (text) within the draft plan update.  [Apparently it is not necessary to complete these plans before development is approved.]

Discussion of population growth projections – how does Port Moody’s plan fit with the regional growth strategy (RGS) and the RGS projected population numbers (which are lower thanPort Moody’s plan).  It was noted that the updated draft OCP will need to include some numbers, and projected population growth numbers are necessary before the plan goes back for public input.  Motion passed.

If you’d like to know more about any of the three recent OCP discussion meetings, you can view them online.  This is the link to the Sept. 30 video:
http://portmoodybc.swagit.com/play/09302013-620.

Please feel free to forward this email.

As always, we welcome your comments and input to MCCA.

Regards,
Hazel Mason, President
Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA)
Respond:  mcca.pm@gmail.com

*****************

From: MCCA PortMoody
Date: Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 5:02 PM
Subject: OCP back to council September 30; town hall postponed – date to be announced
To: MCCA PortMoody

Greetings,

Some of you may already know this, but the town hall to discuss the OCP scheduled originally for Monday, September 30, 2013 has been postponed to a date to be determined. This is because council is still working through its review of the draft OCP, and then staff will need to update the plan, and residents will need adequate time to review the updates before a town hall.

To recap: 

  • On Sept. 10 council spent 4 hours discussing the draft.
  • On Sept. 23 council spent 5 hours discussing the draft.
  • They still hadn’t gotten through the Moody Centre part, which will continue on Sept. 30 as a committee of the whole instead of the town hall.

The five hour discussion is available to watch on the city website.  It’s broken into chapters.

The video link can be found here:  http://www.portmoody.ca/index.aspx?page=744.  You need to click on the tab marked “specialty” and pick the Sept. 23 Committee of the Whole recording. 

Some highlights of the meeting

  • Tim Savoie, General Manager of Development Services for Port Moody, confirmed the draft OCP was designed to encourage additional density and population because of Skytrain, and that “densities will be enhanced” in the Moody Centre and Inlet Centre areas.  He made reference to development proposals that have been brought forward to the city’s planning department, though specifics were not discussed.
  •  [Note:  Port Moody is already ahead of its population commitments to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).  The go-ahead for the two Skytrain stations now under construction was not based on any requirement for Port Moody to further increase our population in the two areas.]
  • Councillor Nuttall asked why the city is suggesting population numbers higher than those in Metro Vancouver’s RGS.  Councillor Glumac again asked about densities and floor-space ratios (FSR) that may help the plan to be more specific in terms of what the city’s vision is.
  • There was considerable discussion about cultural areas and amenities, and what should be required contributions from developers in return for increased density.  Tim Savoie confirmed that developer contributions are typically voluntary, and specifics are not set out in the way they are in the city of Vancouver’s charter.
  • In council’s discussion of heritage areas, most of the time was spent on the Ioco heritage area.
  • Councillor Royer asked about the city’s emergency preparedness in the event of a disaster event.  There was some discussion about goods carried by rail, and that the city can’t possibly know what every rail car carries.  [This is a topic being discussed across the country, with some jurisdictions asking for better documentation on what is being transported within population centres, in part to help with decisions on where it is appropriate to build or expand communities.]
  • There was discussion about supplementary plans to help guide the OCP – such as the master transportation plan (will not be ready for about one year, estimated).  Other plans not completed are the parks plan, heritage plan, parking plan, although it was noted that the Chines integrated stormwater management plan is close to completion (it looks at the Chines hillside, management of water and drainage, creeks, etc.).
  • Regarding the Ioco area on the north shore, there appeared to be consensus that the existing infrastructure cannot accommodate additional growth until David Avenue is completed, and that full environmental assessments are necessary prior to development.  [Should this discussion extend to other neighbourhoods?]
  • Regarding the Ioco (IGA) plaza, councillors stated they “heard loud and clear” that any redevelopment should be restricted to four storeys.
  • Eventually the discussion turned to Moody Centre and Seaview (just west of Moody Centre).  There was some confusion as to where Schoolhouse Creek ran through the area.  [It runs south-north from the western Chines past Port Moody Secondary School, by Albert and Barnet streets, through the property at the westernmost part of MoodyCentre (Barnet/St.John’s/Clarke), and continues through the Andres wine property.]  Stream setbacks were discussed, but there did not seem to be definite across-the-board standards.
  • In the updated draft, look for additional towers up to 26 storeys added to the Andres site, and the old Barnet hotel site.  Most of council seemed to be on board (the meeting minutes are not yet available).  This was not previously included in the draft OCP.
  • Also proposed:  in the Seaview area (Charles Street mentioned specifically), allow for buildings up to 6 storeys.  There was some discussion that the area residents are not all in agreement, and that it might be good to have a policy to give specific neighbourhoods a way in which they can contribute to planning for their individual smaller areas.
  • After 5 hours of discussion, it was clear that another review meeting would be required, and that the town hall would need to be postponed to a later date.  A large part of Moody Centre has not yet been discussed.

You can send council your comments by email (council@portmoody.ca; and ocp@portmoody.ca; and info@portmoody.ca).

We will advise of updates.

In the news recently:

Momentum to build upwards has become a skyscraping race across Metro Vancouver [mentions Port Moody]
The Province, Sept. 28, 2013
http://www.theprovince.com/news/Momentum+build+upwards+skyscraping+race+across+Metro/8970127/story.html

Zoning proposals in Vancouver spark city hall protest
Globe and Mail, Sept. 26, 2013
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/zoning-proposals-spark-city-hall-protest/article14561517/

 City delays rezoning plans in Vancouver neighbourhoods
City pledges more time, consultation, and new forms of engagement
CBC news, Sept. 27, 2013
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/city-delays-rezoning-plans-in-vancouver-neighbourhoods-1.1871813

Council hears objections to community plans
Vancouver Sun, Sept. 26, 2013
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Council+hears+objections+community+plans/8961511/story.html

 PoMo council thanked for listening
Tri-City News, Sept. 26, 2013
http://www.tricitynews.com/opinion/letters/225382402.html

Relations with Vancouver City Hall sour in four communities angered by planning process
Vancouver Sun, Sept. 23, 2013
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Relations+with+Vancouver+City+Hall+sour+four+communities+angered+planning+process/8949586/story.html

Community concerned about 400% population increase in Port Moody Official Community Plan (OCP)
September 22, 2013
https://metrovanwatch.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/moody-centre-bulletin/
and
http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/port-moody-ocp-alarm-bells/

 So, what is the plan?
The Province, Sept. 25, 2013
http://www.theprovince.com/technology/what+plan/8956189/story.html

Please feel free to forward this email.

As always, we welcome your comments and input to MCCA.

Regards,
Hazel Mason, President
Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA)
Respond:  mcca.pm@gmail.com

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