Traffic was on the mind of some outgoing Port Moody council members as permits were approved for the next phases of the city’s largest development project to date: Woodland Park.
The vote took place Oct, 11 during council’s last regular meeting before the municipal election.
The development passed by a 5-2 vote with Mayor Rob Vagramov and Coun. Steve Milani opposed. Coun. Meghan Lahti and Coun. Hunter Madsen also expressed traffic concerns as construction ramps up.
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Madsen described traffic issues as the “big gamble” in putting such a large project in the Glenayre neighbourhood. He said he wished the city had traffic-impact modelling in place.
“Missing from these plans seems to be the more urgent issue for the city over the next decade, which is what the construction impact for Woodlands,” Madsen said.
“I haven’t received any reassurances from staff about how the city plans to actively mitigate resident inconvenience.”
Schedule and traffic
The Woodland Park development agreement was first approved in late 2021, and will transform 23 acres into five large complexes, totalling 2,053 units and 19,500 square feet of commercial space.
The mega-project is slated to eventually be home to some 4,000 residents, and take between 10 and 15 years to complete.
Phase 1 construction, which includes 328 subsidized rentals with B.C. Housing, is already underway.
The Oct. 11 vote approved development permits for Phase 2 and 3 of the project. The former includes 219 strata units in a six-storey U-shaped building; the latter comprises 138 market rentals, 19,500 square feet of commercial space, and 12,300 square feet on childcare space in a five and six storey building, respectively.
Staff are comfortable with the developer’s traffic impact assessment for these first few phases, said Kevin Jones, Port Moody’s senior planner.
Jones, added that before Phase 4 or 5 begins, a provision requires the developer to purchase land to build a new roadway to facilitate traffic.
The later phases will add the majority of the residential units. The start date is undetermined.
“At these first few phases . . . they’re going to need to rely on Glenayre Drive,” Jones said.
Jones said staff plan to finalize their own traffic management plans as excavation permits are approved in the coming months.
Lahti questioned the timing of waiting until Phase 4 to require a new road installment. She noted that traffic was one of the biggest concerns for local residents.
“I think that people that live in that neighborhood might argue that the impact of these changes is going to need alternative roads prior to that,” she said.
“But that’s the decision that council made, so I mean, we have to move with what we’ve got.”
SkyTrain in vain
Vagramov said that, while this is favorite large-scale development project presented to council “by far,” his worry has always been the city’s lack of a long-term traffic plan.
“At the end of the day, it feels like such a missed opportunity to not leverage the concern around traffic here for the benefit of the city to try and get a third SkyTrain station installed at this location,” he said.
“It doesn’t really change the traffic dynamic in that part of town for this much density that no doubt will happen though infill.”
Council rejected Vagramov’s motion to commission a feasibility study on the cost of a third SkyTrain station between Moody Centre station and Barnett Highway in April, which would cost up to $150,000.
Vagramov brought forward a similar motion, asking staff to find out if the cost of the study could be done cheapers, believing it could be done for only $10,000. Council approved.
Coun. Diana Dilworth voted against the motion, stating city staff have several long-term projects that should be priorities over the mayor’s request.
“This isn’t a priority,” Dilworth said.