Flavelle Oceanfront Development

After operating for the past 100 years or so as a sawmill, the owners of Flavelle Sawmill are looking towards the future with a proposal to redevelop the site from an industrial site to a mixed use residential and economic zone.  I’ve
chosen the word ‘economic zone’ because the traditional choice between residential and industrial is what this transition is all about, and it causes
more confusion than it does clarity.

As many Port Moody residents know, the site is a 34 acre parcel in the heart of the City, adjacent Rocky Point Park, on the waterfront of beautiful
Burrard Inlet.  Many residents have wanted this site redeveloped for years.. maybe decades ..  and others have appreciated the historic role
of the forestry industry and the jobs provided in our community.  This isn’t lost on the owners of the mill, Mill and Timber, who have been quite
happily running their business, providing employment on this site for 60+ employees in good paying skilled jobs.

But the new reality is that a site of this size could accommodate both job provision and provide other amenities to the community – residences, shopping,
community space, etc. – not to mention opening up access to the water with public space and parks.   The City Council as far back as 2000
identified this property as a ‘special study area’ in our Official Community Plan, meaning there was a future that was different than the current use.
The OCP describes a vision for the “Oceanfront District” as follows :  One of the primary objectives for the Oceanfront District is to reconnect this part of the City with Port Moody’s historic centre and the rest of Moody Centre with the ocean by introducing a residential presence along the water. The district is envisioned as a vibrant medium-high density mixed use area where the water’s edge is integral to the experience.

 

Before anything can happen to transition the land use on this parcel, it must first be re designated in the Regional Growth Strategy at Metro Vancouver.  The RGS identifies this site as Industrial, also with a ‘special study area’ designation, again, in recognition that this site will be transitioning to a different use.  The RGS has three land use designations:  Industrial, General Urban and Agricultural.  In order to enable the mixed use on the site, it must be changed in the RGS to General Urban, which still allows industrial use, but also enables residential and other uses.    There is a feeling that there may be some objection in the region to the further erosion of industrial land in the region as we become more populated and push the industrial uses out in favour of residential development.   There’s no doubt that’s true – but that’s how growth happens..   in New York the industries were pushed off the Island of Manhattan as the area densified and populations increased, and those industrial jobs moved across the river to New Jersey or other areas.  In Vancouver, the traditional industrial lands around false creek have all, with a couple minor exceptions, transitioned away from industrial use – you can look back even to the early 1980’s to see false creek as almost completely industrial uses.   Port Moody is now part of the urban core of Metro Vancouver – the ideas of suburbs are fading as we all live/work/play across the region and the lower mainland increases in population density.  With the rest of the regional vision in the RGS, it makes in impractical to think we would maintain industrial operations in the core, where the delivery vehicles have a hard time accessing the businesses, and the land would be far better used for high density in the ‘core’.

So, where are we  ?   Port Moody City Council has approved an OCP amendment to send the RGS amendment off to Metro Vancouver for approval – the OCP amendment cannot be finalized until the RGS policy is amended to match.   The OCP amendment was endorsed by the Community Planning Advisory committee on February 7,2017 .

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Mike Clay

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