Staff have been diligently recording public comments. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Collecting opinions about big Pitt Meadows development

Hearing support for, and opposition to, North Lougheed Study Area

Work on the next big development in Pitt Meadows continues, but support for development of the North Lougheed Study Area, which include a new road parallel to Lougheed Highway, is not unanimous.

“We hear both support for and opposition to development of the study area,” said Colin O’Byrne the manager of community development.

He and city hall staff have met with the public at five events including Pitt Meadows Day, the official community plan housing forum and three “pop-up events” that each lasted about four hours. Staff also offered an online forum, connected directly with stakeholder groups and did direct mail-outs to 843 residents and landowners living north of the Lougheed soliciting their input.

It has all been done to gauge the public’s opinion about how best to use the 50-hectare parcel, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Harris Road and Lougheed Highway.

“There are people who rightly want to protect agricultural land, and others who want to explore other options,” O’Byrne said at a July event outside the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre, but noted a more full accounting of public input will be offered to council this fall.

At the pop-up events, there were posters providing information about the last plan, which was prepared in 2011 and received approval from the Agricultural Land Commission 2013. The last council headed by mayor John Becker deferred the development indefinitely in 2015, and the new council under Mayor Bill Dingwall is again looking to develop the site, albeit with a new plan.

There were also maps that became covered with post-it notes detailing resident ideas.

Some of the priorities from the public are that the development be walkable, that the city protect natural areas, and that the site take advantage of the coming B-Line bus and other transit improvements.

O’Byrne said market conditions for real estate have changed since the last development proposal was created, and staff will offer council a variety of options.

Dingwall said council generally expects there to be residential building added, which was not part of the last retail-commercial plan for the site. He said the site could include both affordable housing, and high-end real estate with a view of the Golden Ears Mountains.

He noted there are eight landowners involved, with the majority owner being SmartCentres.

The road on the northern boundary of the development, the North Lougheed Connector, remains part of the proposal, and it was a condition of the 2013 Agricultural Land Commission decision. Staff will look at development options to pay for that road.

Some members of the last council said the proposed road would not be useful, but Dingwall said the need for better east-west transportation through the area makes it “An important transportation piece for our region.”

Staff will work through summer on a summary report, finish compiling background research and prepare draft land use concepts based on the feedback, for council approval.

Council has approved a budget of $80,000 toward technical studies and public engagement. If approved by council, the city could apply to Metro Vancouver and the ALC for the OK of the plan by early 2020.


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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