Moody Centre TOD - How NOT to use public input
This part of town has been the centre of elections many times.
The election of 2011 was fought over what would happen to the city now that SkyTrain was coming through - should we re-develop or not? What resulted was a massive public engagement process regarding our Official Community Plan (OCP) that took years. Thousands of residents participated and a fierce debate, primarily over density and tower heights was had. Eventually - although the builders surely would have loved more - the community agreed to a maximum tower height of 12 storeys.
In election of 2014, once again, the main issue was the development of Moody Centre. Should the OCP be reopened? The current Mayor's opponent at the time sure thought so, and he warned voters of what he called a "wall of twelve storey towers" coming for our quiet little town. Several times during that election, The Mayor and others currently on City Council promised that "there will not be a wall of towers along St. John's Street".
The public put their trust in these words, as did I, but after a set of Developer Roundtables in March of 2015 in which builders told the City that they wouldn't make enough money off of the current plan, the Mayor and Council Majority wiped away YEARS of public input with a couple meetings in 2017, over-doubling the height limits we all agreed to.
Consider for a moment the traffic situation along St Johns Street.
Is it reasonable to expect all of these new residents to take SkyTrain all (or even half) of the time?
Ignoring the obvious issues that come with increasing population numbers above and beyond our Official Community Plan - such as traffic - the biggest issue with this project is the way in which it was added to our Plan. At the time, many described it as a "slap in the face" to all the residents who gave up their time participating in the process just a few years ago. If an elected body wants to over-double what has already been decided by the community in the form of an entire election, as well as a multi-year public consultation, it has a responsibility to take that new vision to the public first, in the form of an election or referendum question.
I am excited for growth, I love the skytrain, and Moody Centre is in desperate need of a facelift. That does not mean we need to accept everything that builders ask for, and it does not justify turning our backs on previous agreements with the community.
With its proximity to SkyTrain, Moody Centre is perfectly positioned to become the Economic Engine of Port Moody. Rather than focussing on how many residential units we can cram into these four blocks, we should be looking towards innovative, purpose-built jobs space, with a modest amount of residential growth.