Pitt Meadows council has put the SmartCentres development on the backburner.
Council voted to indefinitely defer rezoning for the proposed commercial district near the corner of Lougheed Highway and Harris Road, with no timetable to bring the issue back to the table.
Couns. David Murray, Janis Elkerton, Mike Stark and Bruce Bell voted for the indefinite deferral, despite the position taken by Mayor John Becker and Couns. Tracy Miyashita and Bill Dingwall that some timeline, even months away, was appropriate.
After the vote, Miyashita and Dingwall wanted it recorded that they opposed the deferral motion.
SmartCentres land development manager David Major would not comment outside city hall.
On Monday, he had sent the mayor and council a letter reiterating that the company is prepared to build a road – a section of the North Lougheed Connector from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way in order to “help kickstart development of the North Lougheed lands.”
The company wants to develop 43 acres for shopping and another 19 for a business/light industrial park.
Major and other company representatives were in attendance at council, but were not called upon by councillors to answer questions.
On Wednesday, SmartCentres vice-president of corporate affairs, Sandra Kaiser, indicated the company is not deterred.
“While we would naturally prefer the planning process to progress more quickly, we understand that major infrastructure decisions take time and we remain committed to being part of the Pitt Meadows community,” she said in an email.
Elkerton said it is concerning that the company has not acquired all of the land it needs to build the road, and that two lanes is inadequate.
“I’m quite firm in this, that I’m not supporting this application,” she said.
Other councillors made reference to work going on behind the scenes that could affect the proposal.
Bell referred to “other wheels that are moving.”
Becker said “we all know what we’re up to,” and suggested it be deferred by a month.
Miyashita wanted to make the development a priority, and said council needed a “fulsome” discussion.
“It feels like we are dragging this out.”
Dingwall wanted to defer the matter until June.
“The optics are not great for an indefinite deferral,” he said, adding that even if council put it off until September, it should set a date.
Murray said the city will get better opportunities by not rushing into the process.
“’Rush’ is not an adjective we would apply to this particular issue,” Becker responded, and said the issue needs a date.
Becker would not clarify whether there is another issue that could impact the North Lougheed development.
Council will be holding a Transportation town hall event with the public in June, and Becker said council may be able to announce “something of substance,” at that time.
The mayor wanted a date to review SmartCentres’ application because “if something doesn’t have a return date, one tends not to focus on it.”
However, he said the matter could be back at the council table at any time, and he doesn’t believe council sent a negative message to the developer.
“We’ve had conversations with SmartCentres,” he said.