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Onni offers Pitt Meadows 11 acres for sports fields

But has attached conditions for business park development

Onni has presented its plan for the next phases of the Golden Ears Business Park, including a multi-million dollar sports field project, if council approves it.

The developer will give the city 10.88 acres of land for sports fields, but has attached conditions – including that its industrial buildings be allowed to be built to a height of 15 metres in phases three and four of the park.

South Bonson residents have urged council to follow the advice of its consultant, and limit heights to 12m.

Coun. Janis Elkerton said the amenity contribution from Onni would be uprecedented in the community, if not the region.

The amenity proposal includes the land, which would allow for enough space to accommodate an eight-lane running track around a CFL-size football field.

There would also be a soccer field, viewing areas, 115 parking spaces and landscaped buffers from surrounding properties.

The agreement would also allow field users to park in the business park on evenings and weekends.

“I think it sets a precedent for the best [amenity] deal ever negotiated in the Lower Mainland,” said Elkerton. “This is the best deal Pitt Meadows has ever seen.”

City Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts estimated the land that would be given to the city could be worth as much as $16 million.

Both he and the city’s consultants on the project, IBI Group, considered it an unprecedented amenity contribution.

But it comes with a controversial condition – the 15m building heights.

Bob Meachen, spokesperson for the organized opposition to the business park, said the city has ignored its own consultants in not having 20m buffers and 12m height limits.

“What we’re looking at is a copy of phases one and two,” he said of the proposal.

Meachen, a former soccer association president, would like to see more artificial turf fields in the city, “but not at the expense of the residents’ quality of life.”

He said the high, tilt-up concrete walls would be ugly and “have a huge negative impact on the area. And in future years, we’re going to be gridlocked down here.

“Onni is doing what it does – maximizing space. But you can’t do it at the expense of an established community,” he added.

Another spokesperson for the group, Corinne O’Handley said the long-awaited plans are “a nightmare.

“The feel and the character of this new community is being sold out for a sports field,” she said. “These plans are even worse that what we had a year ago.

“Onni is saying. ‘If we don’t get our building to 50 feet high, you don’t get your sports field,” she added.

“Will councillors hold true to their words, that the City of Pitt Meadows deserves better?”

Elkerton said the city would benefit from an enlarged tax base and more employment in the community.

“At this point – and it’s still going to public hearing – I want to hear from the whole community, and not just South Bonson,” Elkerton added.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita also encouraged residents who support the plan to come forward and be heard.

“We have such a strong voice from that area [South Bonson],” she said.

“Residents aren’t happy about what’s coming forward. They don’t feel they’ve been listened to by council.”

Roberts clarified that there are areas of the business park where 15m heights are not permitted. Where they are allowed, the frontage of the building will be 12m high, then rise to 15m towards the interior.

There would be no 15m high wall planes on the exterior of the buildings, he said.

He said council’s intention is that design elements will make phases three and four look different than the first two phases.

Council was to consider phases 3 and 4 of the light industrial development in southern Pitt Meadows on Tuesday. It was scheduled to vote to give the rezoning bylaws for the development first and second reading.

Councillors could then set a public hearing for June 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the gymnasium in the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre.

Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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