Which comes first, a third PoMo Evergreen station or density?

By Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News 
Published: May 28, 2009 4:00 PM

Members of the Port Moody Western Station Committee packed Tuesday’s council meeting to plead for a third Evergreen Line station, and the west-end density needed to support it.

Of the six stops currently planned for the line linking Lougheed Mall to Coquitlam Town Centre, just two are in Port Moody.

The Western Station Committee says a third, in the area of Barnet Highway and St. Johns Street, is desperately needed not only for transportation purposes but also to bring housing density — as well as shops and services — to PoMo’s west end.

“Our neighbourhood desires and needs to have more amenities within walking distance,” said one resident, who, like many others in the area, depends on public transit.

“I’m tired of driving to Burquitlam for milk,” another woman added.

But the provincial government, which has taken over the Evergreen Line project from TransLink, says a third station in PoMo (and another in Coquitlam), will be considered “based on their ability to shape land use, stimulate increased ridership and promote transit-oriented development.”

That means as Evergreen planning proceeds, Port Moody would have to show in its official community plan that it plans to significantly densify the west end for the government to green-light a third station.

City staff have been working on a new OCP for nearly three years and while the current draft anticipates the Evergreen Line’s arrival, it’s waiting for the station locations to be identified before creating specific plans for building heights, land uses and densities in those areas. (Council will have its first opportunity to make comments on the OCP at a public meeting in July.)

It’s like a rapid transit version of the old chicken-and-egg dilemma: Which comes first, the high-density OCP designations or provincial government approval?

“This OCP allows the city to move forward without the details on station locations nailed down,” said Tim Savoie, director of planning. “When we have the details, we can move forward with a more focused process to deal with more density around the stations.”

Savoie said the city doesn’t have information on the province’s threshold to warrant the third station; a Ministry of Transportation representative also didn’t have the info at hand.

Still, the OCP draft calls for much of Moody Centre’s west end to move up to medium-density, multi-family housing like townhouse developments, while the Andres Wines site is still listed as industrial. The necessary density would likely come from a proposed Waterfront Village, which would be similar to Newport Village, Savoie said.

But densifying Moody Centre isn’t a welcome prospect for all residents.

Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA) president Wendy Swalwell says the group strongly supports a third station but not at all costs.

“We would like to see amenities here as well and faithfully support the current business owners that have their shops near us,” she wrote in an email. “The difference is that we would like to preserve the liveability and character of our neighbourhood at the same time.”

Throughout the OCP process, she added, most PoMo residents have strongly opposed additional highrises. “We need to fix some books in Moody Centre before we build giant bookends,” said MCCA vice president David Ritcey.

An updated project description report dated May 4, 2009 and posted on the Ministry of Environment’s web site shows public consultation on the Evergreen’s preliminary design will happen this fall, with an application submitted to the Environmental Assessment Office by the end of this year. At that point, the EAO has up to six months to review the application before issuing its approval; if all goes well, construction should start at the end of 2010 and finish four years later.

PLAN ONLINE

Port Moody residents interested in council’s latest strategic plan can check it out online. The full plan is available on the city’s website, www.cityofportmoody.com.

spayne@tricitynews.com

 
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Which comes first, a third PoMo Evergreen station or density?

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