Responsible Growth and Development
The region as a whole is growing and will continue to grow, and we need to plan for that growth responsibly. Although Port Moody's population has grown very little – just 540 people between 2011 and 2016 (according to the 2016 Canada Census) we now have the SkyTrain, and we know that young families are drawn to Port Moody for not only the amazing lifestyle the city offers, but also the convenient access to transit.
It is important that further development occurs primarily near transit stations for future residents, providing both affordability and better environmental impact, as families move to a car-free and transit-oriented lifestyle.
Councils of the past have made very responsible planning decisions, creating higher density zones while protecting green space. But we do know that even small growth, when combined with larger regional increases in population and our geographic constraints, means we must plan to ensure continued delivery of excellent services. For example, shifts in lifestyle and housing mean that citizens are increasingly viewing public amenities – like parks, libraries, and recreation centers – as central to their daily lives. Currently, many civic facilities are undergoing expansions and renovations.
Implementation of the Port Moody Master Transportation Plan gets underway this year, triggering a multi-year, $10+ million investment in our transportation network. Changes in traffic flow, new signalized intersections, improved pedestrian safety, new bike infrastructure, and improved transit access are just some of the initiatives outlined in the plan.
Additionally, the Master Transportation Plan stipulates that future development will fund another $20+ million in transportation infrastructure, including new crossings of the rail right-of-way and access to and from the Barnet Highway.
Port Moody has always been a leader in our environmental practices and we have worked hard to protect and enhance our amazing natural surroundings. We continue to add more park space to the city and to improve the usability of our active park spaces and playgrounds. The Burrard Inlet is cleaner than it has ever been and residents enjoy both the ocean and our local lakes for safe recreation.
We are seeing increases in our wildlife habitat, including continued growth of our hatcheries, blue heron nests, and of course, our growing deer population. We will continue to work diligently on greenhouse gas reductions and energy efficiencies, as well as pushing towards the elimination of our reliance on fossil fuels.
The city was previously recognized as the most electric-vehicle-friendly city in BC, with the most charging stations per population, and we continue to look for opportunities for solar, wind, hydro, and other clean sources of energy.
I was very proud over my first term as Mayor to have led a period of the lowest tax increases in the city in decades. Port Moody is not immune to the significant financial pressures facing all municipalities. Over this past term, the city was significantly impacted by the closure of BC Hydro's Burrard Generating Station with a decline of $1 million per year in revenues. This impact was somewhat offset by the hard work in finding alternative revenue sources, including the increase in tax revenues from Pacific Coast Terminals and the new office development in Suter Brook.
We need to continue to look for ways to diversify our tax base, with less reliance on residential taxes. A strong local business community obviously helps the city with tax revenues but provides many other benefits, including much-needed jobs, positive growth for the overall economy, and all-around good corporate citizens always make a community stronger.
We all know the lower-mainland housing market has seen explosive growth in sales volumes and prices over the past 5 years, creating issues in many communities, including Port Moody.
In my role as Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee, I’ve had a chance to see first-hand the complexities involved in keeping the region affordable. The City continues to work to attract and develop affordable housing for families, as well as a variety of options to serve the full demographic of our community. We want maturing youth, downsizing seniors, and our vulnerable populations to be able to stay in Port Moody and contribute to the rich tapestry of a diverse community.
In the past year alone, Port Moody Council has approved over 500 units of rental housing, including a number of below-market units.
Port Moody Council is working on updates to affordable housing policies and related initiatives. In June, we held a workshop on market and sub-market rental housing development with over 50 members of the Community Advisory Group.
We also know that affordability isn’t just about housing – it’s all the costs in our lives. Supporting transit expansion in Port Moody has been a priority; planning for complete and walkable neighbourhoods allows people to direct funds they might spend on a vehicle elsewhere. We've also been working hard to introduce free and low-cost events, activities, and festivals.