Good things come to those who wait.
As many will recall, following years and countless public meetings, in 2014 Port Moody decided to designate Westport in the Official Community Plan as a new amenity community hub. In doing so, Port Moody Council designated the Andres site as a Special Study Area suggesting that it requires more detailed planning. This was a bold and insightful approach that recognizes that there are a number of opportunities in west Port Moody that need this level of attention and consideration.
The Andres folks recently announced the beginning of a process to undertake this planning study. I was fortunate enough to attend one of five stakeholder workshops last month, and just learned the first Public Open House is approaching on November 9th. I view this as not really a beginning, but the result of much thought and discussion that has gone before.
First, let’s not forget why we are looking at new forms of development in Westport. The serious lack of appropriate services and amenities for residents throughout the western part of our community has been a problem for quite some time now. Secondly, we need to note that the Evergreen Line connecting us to the rest of Vancouver will provide a much stronger and more natural delineation between the Andres site and its industrial neighbours to the north of the tracks (see image). Finally, as Metro Vancouver continues to grow, and given the desirability of Port Moody, more people will want to make our community their home. I believe it makes sense to try to keep this future growth in areas that are accessible to transit, and also in locations that aren’t likely to add unnecessary traffic to existing challenged areas, such as on St. Johns Street.
Bearing in mind these key directions, it is obvious that retail will be a primary requirement in and around the Andres 5-acre property. Take grocery for example. The most recent retail report conducted (Moody Centre Commercial Market Assessment and Revitalization Strategy – June 2005) that I’m aware of states local demand for supermarkets, including all of Port Moody and a small portion of Coquitlam, was predicted at over $106 million annually in 2005. At the time of the report, there was only the small IGA and a proposed new supermarket, which together still only served less than half of the demand. A new supermarket was clearly warranted in this market, and ten years later, there is still an obvious demand as residents continue to get in their cars and drive to neighbouring communities for milk and bread.
The buck doesn’t stop there. There is more to stores like supermarkets and drug stores than the service they provide. Anchor tenants like these would generate more traffic to support smaller tenants like restaurants and coffee shops, both new and those existing in Moody Centre today. Not to mention the amount of jobs they would create, and as I wrote is a previous post (West Port Moody – A Win-Win), far more than Andres ever employed. The viability of all these stores and the related services like banking, insurance, etc. will depend on adding residential and commercial customers who should of course be close by.
These conclusions are not new, or mine alone. We have considered the Andres site for a long time now as the strategic focus and catalyst for the revitalization of the Westport neighbourhood. So that’s why I view the open house next Monday as more of an end than a beginning, as I’m sure others will.
Drop into Monday night’s Public Open House and please consider confirming the need for amenities and anchor/retail stores on this large site in the west of our city.
The Public Open House is scheduled for November 9th, between 5:00 – 8:00pm at the Old Mill Boathouse on Esplanade Street; hope to see you there.