British Columbia

Port Moody's acting mayor wants more jobs — not more towers — around SkyTrain hub

He's only been Port Moody's acting mayor for two weeks, but Hunter Madsen isn't wasting time putting forward his vision for the city. 

Council will vote on motion that prioritizes tech jobs around Moody Centre instead of mixed-use towers

Acting Mayor Hunter Madsen is proposing a vision for the centre of Port Moody that has less density than currently proposed under the Official Community Plan. (City of Port Moody )

He's only been Port Moody's acting mayor for two weeks, but Hunter Madsen isn't wasting time putting forward his vision for the city. 

"If this seems like a bold plan, it's only because it attempts to encourage the city to confirm the focus it knows it needs to have," said Madsen.

Madsen's proposal involves a three block long area surrounding Moody Centre SkyTrain station, which is anticipated to undergo significant change in the coming years.

Entitled "More than a Bedroom Community! Building a Tech & Innovation Hub that Revitalizes Port Moody with Great Jobs!", Madsen's report advocates the following:

  • The city establish the area around Moody Centre as "a dynamic new business hub for the advancement of sustainable clean technologies, innovation, and the sciences."
  • The city change its Official Community Plan to include job creation targets in the area, while also clarifying that "densified housing and residential amenities" would not define it.
  • Staff report on "options to hold development" in the area until the new plan is established. 

Council will vote Tuesday evening on whether to adopt the report.  

The "Moody Centre Station" area in Port Moody's Official Community Plan is relatively small, but centred around a SkyTrain station.

Towers of up to 26 storeys currently allowed

Madsen is the second councillor to fill in as mayor while Rob Vagramov takes an indefinite leave while contesting a sexual assault charge. Madsen will be in the position until the end of September.

He said orienting Moody Centre around jobs is critical to reversing the trend of fewer and fewer Port Moody residents working with the city limits.

"If a community is to be a complete community, that means people can live and work and play here," he said.

Madsen said prioritizing businesses in the area would provide more well-paying jobs, decrease congestion and provide a more diverse tax base for the city. 

"We've always been a bedroom community ... but if you're just a bedroom community, that's a problem."

The city's current Official Community Plan (OCP) calls for the area to have "higher density, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly development around the station," with towers of up to 26 storeys allowed. 

While the city's entire OCP is scheduled to be reviewed over the next two years, Madsen said it is imperative to move quickly on the Moody Centre section.  

"My concern is that were we're not talking enough about this as a priority to those who might come to us with development plans," he said.

"Until it is front and centre in our vision we should not expect the development community to come back and make it front and centre in theirs."

Port Moody's Official Community Plan says all new buildings in Moody Centre should be between six and 26 storeys. (City of Port Moody)

'It's a ridiculous notion'

But Madsen's proposal was sharply criticized by Coun. Diana Dilworth, who said it was inappropriate to change the Moody Centre plans ahead of the OCP review.

"We're opening up the entire OCP by the end of the year to start conversations about what neighbourhoods like," she said. 

"It's a ridiculous notion that we're going to direct staff to drop everything now to complete his proposed [actions] ... he's doing this with no respect for our taxpayers, no respect for any public consultation, no respect for the property owners and no respect for for council."

Dilworth alleged Madsen hadn't spoken with property owners in the area before putting forward his proposal, and that his report ignored ongoing discussions taking place between those owners and the city, province, and TransLink.

"What's the hurry? You're not sitting down with these property owners," she said.

"The bigger question is Mr. Madsen's been acting mayor for two weeks. What is this really all about?"

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