Setting the record straight – the truth campaign :)

I understand that campaigns are often misleading.  I wish they weren’t, but,
there are people who want to create fear and division – particularly when they
are running in a City where the vast majority of residents are happy with the way
things are going.

The political playbook tells you that you need to convince voters you are ‘standing
up for them’, and ‘fighting for them’.  This is true when there is something
to fight for, but nobody should just be out looking for a fight.

I’m running in this election on my record, and I believe I have shown that I bring
solid, steady leadership to City Hall.  I am a relationship builder, and believe
in working collaboratively with our partners, neighbours and other levels of government.
The reputation I inherited as Mayor was that Port Moody Council and senior
administrator were difficult to deal with, even combative on issues.  We were
not working with our neighbours, or in the region, to the benefit of our City.

The results speak for themselves – over the past three years we have received
millions of dollars in Provincial and Federal government grants for projects such
as:  Arts Centre expansion and heritage house preservation, Centennial celebrations,
Westhill Sports Box, Moody Street Overpass pedestrian improvements, Rec Centre
roof replacement, Murray Street bike lanes, and more.

Unfortunately, there are some in this election that are making claims and statements
that are just plain wrong.

CLAIM:  That the Moody Centre Station Area in the
Official Community Plan calls for multiple high rise residential towers – or as
described ‘a wall of high rise condo towers on St John Street.

REALITY:  The Official Community Plan identifies the
Moody Centre Station Area for redevelopment that will include residential, commercial,
office and light industrial uses.  The maximum height indicated in the plan
is 12 storeys.  The OCP itself does not entitle or allow ANY development,
and every proposal for this area will need to go through an extensive process of
staff, Land Use Committee,  Advisory Design Panel and Council review and public
hearing process.  The OCP does identify opportunities for higher density if
a proposal can return greenspace / parkspace to the City, but again, there is no
entitlement to anything without a complete review.  You will notice below,
there are no heights over 12 storeys in the Moody Centre Station area.

CLAIM:  The numbers are
missing from the plan.

REALITY:   Rules for
building are contained in the Zoning bylaw, NOT in the Official Community Plan.
The OCP is a visioning document, where the Zoning Bylaw is the actual bylaw
that regulates land use.  Site coverage, set backs, floor space ratios – these
are numbers that are written into law through the Zoning Bylaw.   The OCP
contains numbers for heights, as seen above, and descriptions of various areas
for being multi/single family, low/mid/high density and what types of use is anticipated
on the land (commercial, residential, industrial, mixed use, etc.)  While
you could, in theory, develop a very prescriptive OCP, you would be hindering the
opportunity for imaginative development proposals, such as Newport Village, to
come forward if they didn’t “fit the plan”.     The only site that had
numbers removed from the OCP during the public review process was the Mill and
Timber site – not to allow more or any height, but because the site was removed
from OCP for any change and remains industrial and a special study area.

CLAIM: That the Mill site
is slated for massive high rise development.

REALITY:  The Mill and Timber Site, to the west of
Rocky Point Park was identified early in the OCP process as being land that will
undergo changes in the future.  It became evident in the OCP process that
the community was not supportive of the ideas the land owner had shown and that
there was a feeling we were not ready to move forward with any major change at
this location.  Council REMOVED the Mill and Timber site proposed changes
from the OCP, and returned the site to a ‘special study area’, as it has been in
the plan since 2000.  A Special Study Area is a designation to indicate that
there is an acknowledgement that the current land use will be changing in the future,
but that there is much more planning that needs to take place before any changes
are made.

CLAIM: That the Murray Clarke Connector has ‘disappeared
from the plan’.

REALITY:  Council removed the Murray Clarke Connector
from the Official Community Plan as the $ 75 million project no longer had funding
or support from Translink (While the previous Translink board of Mayor’s indicated
support for the MCC, it was never funded and fell off the list when the new Translink
governance structure was implemented in 2007)   Council decided instead to
work with our neighbours on a regional transportation plan, that would move traffic
from Burke Mountain and east of the Pitt River out of the region via alternate
routes (Coast Meridian Overpass, Mary Hill Bypass, Highway 1, etc).  Through
the relationships I have built with the Mayor and Councils of Port Coquitlam and
Coquitlam, we now are working on a joint committee, for the first time ever, looking
at the traffic issues together.

CLAIM:  The protection of the waterfront needs to
be in the Official Community Plan.

REALITY:  This comment is made in relation to the
Mill and Timber site, a private property that is currently operating a Mill in
an industrial zone.  They are one of the major taxpayers in the City.  Any
plan for this site needs to be done in co-operation with the land owner, which
is what the special study area designation brings with it.  Any pre-supposed
notion by the City to down-zone a property into parkland, would be met with a legal
claim from the property owner for reimbursement for lost value. We achieve results
working WITH people.

CLAIM:  Metro Vancouver will take Port Moody to court
over the OCP.

REALITY:  Metro Vancouver and the City of Port Moody
have a disagreement on two specific pieces of our OCP.  The decision was made
by Council to adopt the OCP so that all of the other great policies in the plan
could be enacted, knowing that the two areas of contention (Mill and Timber and
Andres Wine) are not moving ahead in the near future.  Metro Vancouver will
undoubtedly file a motion to ‘quash’ our OCP, which they have to do if they disagree
with our Regional Context Statement.  There are many technicalities that we
do not agree on as to how Metro Vancouver is interpreting the RGS and how it relates
to our OCP, but I understand why they are doing this.  We have agreed to continue
working with Metro Vancouver to find a mutually supported solution, which I believe
will require a simple amendment of one of our maps to clarify that the Mill and
Timber site is in fact still industrial and a special study area – which has always
been the intent of Council.  Metro staff and board members have acknowleged
that the system for OCP adoption in circumstances such as we have has built in
contention and we are working to not only solve this for Port Moody, but with other
municipalities moving forward as well.  We have no intent or desire to get
into a protracted legal battle with Metro Vancouver, and I anticipate the resolution
coming by February 2015 – without any lawyers or courts involved.

CLAIM:  City facilities are at or near capacity and
can’t accomodate any new growth.

REALITY:  There’s so many questions around a statement
like that, but I thought I would recap just a few:

1) If the facilities weren’t operating at or near capacity, what were they built
for ? Our facilities should always be operating as efficiently and effectively
as possible, which means they should be built for what they are needed for.

2) We have substantial availability in several city facilities such as Heritage
Mtn Community Centre, Kyle Centre, Westhill Centre, and Old Orchard Hall. We should
be, and in fact we are in the midst of doing a complete utilization analysis of
all of our facilities. Kyle Centre needs an update, and before we do anything there
we should consider what programs we could accommodate there to best serve the community.

3) Since I was first elected to Council we have added significantly to the park
space in Port Moody, including Rocky Point, Chip Kerr, Bert Flinn/North Shore.
We have identified opportunities for increased park space around Ioco/Mossom Creek
and we have included expansion of Rocky Point Park in the OCP.

The simple fact is our facilities are not ‘over capacity’, they are ‘successful’.
They are built to serve the population we have and if or when the population of
Port Moody increases then new or expanded facilities should be brought online to
service the residents needs. This is why the Parks and Recreation Master Plan update
is important.

Port Moody has great parks and facilities that have been significantly improved
over the past few years. We will continue providing first class service and amenities
to our residents in the future.

 We need to fight for Port Moody and stand
up for our concerns.

REALITY:  There is no reason to go around looking
for fights, as Port Moody had a reputation for in the past.  The results were
we were being overlooked for grants and partnership opportunities that could benefit
our residents.  By refusing to take part in GVRD/Metro Meetings, our former
City administrator left us without a voice at the regional table – where we now
have a leadership position beyond what a city of our size would normally have.
We now have council representation on important committees at Metro Vancouver such
as zero waste, housing, transportation, & regional planning where we are making
a difference – not just complaining about the outcomes.  We have discussions
with our MP and MLA about what we would like to see changed on the federal and
provincial fronts, and we are seeing outcomes like the changes to municipal election
terms, and we have a voice on important issues like regional policing.  We
are no longer watching from the side lines and complaining – we are working with
the other leaders in our region and province to give Port Moody a voice.

CLAIM:  There has been a reduction of front line city
staff and and increase of management.

REALITY:  Through our operational reviews, we have
converted 4 part time seasonal positions to full time and added an additional 6
full time staff to our front line services in parks and utilities in particular.
We have added a Manager of Sustainability as this was identified as a priority
of Council, as well as a contracted Community Engagement position – again, identified
as a priority of Council.  Both of these new ‘management’ positions have shown
drastic improvements in their respective areas.  The City is now engaging
with residents, not just through Council meetings, but with Town Hall meetings,
open houses, council cafe’s, online surveys, email, web, twitter and facebook,
to name but a few.  Our Manager of Sustainability is looking at all four pillars
of our Sustainability model, including Social, Cultural, Financial and Environmental
– of course, being Port Moody we are seeing a many great new ideas and initiatives
on the Environmental side, which our residents expect and demand.

From CUPE: “To clarify there has not been a reduction in staffing levels.
Between the CUPE Inside (City Hall, Library, Recreation) and Outside, (Works Yard
and Facilities) Collective Agreements, from July 2011 to October 2014, 4 positions
have been converted from Part time to Full Time. Furthermore, we have 6 additional
Full time positions working over 2011. ”

CLAIM: My opponent says “I have asked the police chief
how many police calls there have been at the office building at Newport Village.
He paused and then said ‘none’ “, and correlates that residential growth
creates crime where business growth does not.

REALITY:   Newport Village is a mixed use development,
that includes office, commercial/retail and residential, and the reason there is
no crime reported in ‘the office building’ is because the village is vibrant, day
and night.  This is the proposal for the Moody Centre Transit Hub ! I worked
part of my career in downtown Vancouver.  After 6pm the streets of downtown
are deserted and criminals take over. Nobody would venture into the downtown side
streets or alleys at night.  We also have criminal activity in residential
neighbourhoods that are vacant during the day as all of the residents head off
to work. The key to building safe, vibrant neighbourhoods is to have mixed use
– retail, commercial, light industrial (where practical) and residential.  Workers,
customers, resident – all coming and going throughout the day and evenings – putting
eyes and ears on the streets.  It’s proven that the best safety is safety
in numbers – crime is lowest when there are lots of people and activity around,
and this is what our OCP envisions for the Moody Centre Transit Hub – mixed use
commercial, residential, office/tech park.  Plazas, cafe’s and retail around
stations that are designed for security and include community police stations.

CLAIM:  Developers will use the Maximum Heights in
the OCP as their Minimum.

REALITY:  This is really just a ridiculous statement.
If the OCP says that, for example, heights allowed will be between 4-12 storeys,
then that’s what they will be.  Council is under no obligation to accept any
development even if it is under 4 storeys.  Only a weak Council would accept
a developer treating them that way, and any ‘normal’ Council would simply reject
the developers proposals if they do not align with the aspirations of the community
in any particular area.

CLAIM:  Developers think our plan is weak, and they
need more definition and certainty.

REALITY:  What the developers want is for us to update
our zoning bylaw to include formulas for additional density.  Many municipalities
are including zoning that provides for a base density and then a formula for additional
density based on a monetary formula.   For example, in Coquitlam, they have
the C4 zone, City Centre Commercial (
which describes a base density of 2.5 FSR and then addtional density that can be
‘bought’ based on the amount of density sought and the value of the land.

From their chart: Step 1: A financial contribution of 75% of the land value of
the additional density towards amenities as identified in the Citywide Official
Community Plan for FSR up to 3.0.

Developers prefer this because it gives them certainty, and this is something
that definitely needs to to be discussed at Council – is this something we want
to adopt in our zoning bylaw update, or do we prefer to negotiate amenity contributions
‘per development’.   A conversation worth having, but again, this is in the
ZONING bylaw, not the OCP, and we need to do what is right for Port Moody, not
what the developers prefer.

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Mike Clay

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