The City of Pitt Meadows is inviting the public to help determine how best to utilize outdoor recreational land given by a business park developor in South Bonson.
Onni Group Development has provided 13 acres of green space, including eight acres of parkland and five acres of an enhanced trail network, as part of the development of the phases 3 and 4 of the Golden Ears Business Park.
The city estimates the value of the contribution to be $22.5 million and is inviting the public to attend the celebration to kickstart civic input for the eight acres of recreational space that will be located just west of the Pitt Meadows Arenas and athletic fields.
“This was almost unprecedented for us to obtain an amenity of this magnitude from the developer of this business park light industrial,” said City of Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker.
He explained that the new trail system will run from Fraser Way north along the edge of the existing housing development, across Airport Way and between the existing athletic fields, through a portion of the business park before hitting the new city land areas.
The eight-acre park will be located on the land immediately west of the Pitt Meadows Arena and athletic fields.
“Municipalities are crying out for this kind of development,” said Becker, explaining that for negotiation purposes, the city wanted a piece of land “large enough for a CFL football field, plus a running track around it, plus an adjacent soccer field.”
Now Becker wants to have a comprehensive review of the entire athletic fields and arena lands to see what can be reconfigured to maximize the additional space.
“We have an opportunity to really expand what I call the fields for families area into many uses of many abilities for the first time,” said Becker.
“Low impact exercise, outdoor exercise facilities for our seniors are lacking and this provides a great opportunity for us to incorporate those, as well. And, of course, for people with different levels of physical abilities, we can design these new facilities so that they are fully inclusive of young and old and varying degrees of physical abilities,” he added.
Coun. Bill Dingwall, who is running for mayor in the fall, is upset the announcement for the community celebration did not come through council first.
“I’m an elected official here and I should have found out about it ahead of time and not basically when the public does,” he said, adding that the event comes ahead of the parks master plan, for which the community will have input regarding recreational facilities in the city.
Dingwall has made it clear that he continues to be opposed to having industrial lands beside residential in South Bonson.
“It’s just not a good fit,” he added.
He also disputes the city’s numbers, saying that before the 13 acres was zoned industrial, the land value was likely $100,000 per acre.
Dingwall would have preferred to have seen more residential, maybe a seniors strata centre, and a commercial area along Harris Road in South Bonson.
“And I think we still could have got some ammenities out of Onni as good corporate citizens to support the community,” he said.
Phases 3 and 4 of the Golden Ears Business Park will be built on the east side of Harris Road backing onto the homes along Fieldstone Walk to the north and extending south to Fraser Way.
Becker wants to create excitement about the new park. There will be a number of consultation meetings with stakeholders, including local soccer and baseball clubs. And he would also like the input of local lacrosse and football clubs.
“The nice thing about looking at an artificial surface field is, first of all, it gets a lot more use than our natural fields, for obvious reasons. But they can be configured in a way that will deal with a multitude of organized sports activities,” said Becker.
He also thinks it will be a great opportunity to look at the arena and maximizing the indoor space, such as change rooms, washrooms and concessions.
“We are going to get together to celebrate this once in a lifetime opportunity to add this kind of land base to the city’s inventory at no cost to the city other than, of course, some of the construction costs of the improvements, whatever those might be,” Becker said.
The public celebration takes place at 6:30 p.m. on July 30 at Pitt Meadows Athletic Park, 11431 Bonson Rd., on the north side near the arena parking lot.