A project that could transform Anmore over the next 25 years took a small but meaningful step forward recently.
Despite objections from numerous residents, village council unanimously voted to have staff draw up an amendment to Anmore’s Official Community Plan that could eventually facilitate the development of 3,300 new homes spread over 152 acres.
Before any construction cranes truck into the village, council would have to approve the OCP amendment as well as a subsequent land rezoning including a public hearing and a vote from Metro Vancouver.
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While he supported the motion during the July 18 meeting, Coun. Doug Richardson expressed reservations about the process.
“An amendment makes it sound small. It’s not small. This is a huge change to the village forever,” Richardson said.
The process should start with public consultation, he told staff.
“The way that’s worded right now, you could show up in September with the amendment already written,” he told staff.
“I personally don’t see it that way,” responded Mayor John McEwen. “Once we have an application on the table, we have something to actually start talking about.”
Owned by Icona Properties, the largely undeveloped property is located in southwest Anmore near Belcarra and Port Moody.
If the project goes ahead as planned, Icona Properties would build between 3,100 and 3,500 homes consisting of single-family houses and duplexes, multi-family townhomes, mid-rise apartments, as well as apartments perched over ground floor commercial units. The project also includes a new community centre and neighbourhood parks, according to the report.
In total, the project would bring about 580 new jobs to the village, the report stated.
Currently, the land is “characterized by steep slopes, significant stands of mature trees and several watercourses, including a portion of the Mossom Creek watershed, which is a significant salmon bearing stream,” according to a village staff report. “The lands also contain several at-risk species.”
A minimum of 40 percent of the forest would be preserved amid development.
Several residents opposed the project, describing the development of the rural area as antithetical to the region’s long-term plans for sustainable growth.
The project threatens environmentally sensitive land while concentrating residents in a remote area where emergency evacuation would be extremely challenging, several residents told council.
Mayor McEwen emphasized the challenges faced by the village. He noted Anmore spends about $120,000 to buy water from Port Moody: “with no long-term commitment.”
As part of the Icona project, Anmore South would be connected to regional drinking water and sewer systems.
“We need our own water. We need our own services here,” McEwen said. “We will, as a village, never get another opportunity for a developer to service our village . . . or we’ll have to pay for it ourselves.”
McEwen said he frequently walks through Ravensood, “and I smell sewer,” he added.
Despite being bigger than Port Moody, Anmore has a population of 2,356 – the lowest population density in the Lower Mainland.
If the village’s population tops 5,000, Anmore will likely face an increase in policing costs. Currently, residents pay a sliding scale.
However, Anmore’s annual policing costs recently rose from $242,000 to $301,000, according to McEwen.
“There is a conversation going on right now that the RCMP are going to pull out of rural policing, which would have a significant effect on us,” the mayor said.
The land in question is privately-owned and would likely be developed one way or another, said Coun. Kim Trowbridge.
“I would struggle to figure out why we wouldn’t want to see something new and creative in the village when we know that doing the same thing we’ve always done is ultimately not sustainable,” he said.
Trowbridge also emphasized the importance of including the public at every step.
Prior to the project’s approval, Anmore will require a traffic impact study, a financial overview, and an assessment on both environmental impacts and wildfire strategies.