Chris Evans of Onni speaks during a public hearing in June. (THE NEWS files)

Onni talks coming early in 2019 says Dingwall

The Golden Ears Business Park developer has already cancelled one meeting

Onni has agreed to talk with Pitt Meadows council about changing its approved business park plans, and although one meeting has already fallen through, Mayor Bill Dingwall is confident those conversations are coming early in 2019.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes, and I’m hopeful the meeting will take place in early to mid January,” said Dingwall.

The Onni Group cancelled the first meeting, which was set for December.

Company president Rossano De Cotiis and his vice-president, Chris Evans, were to be part of that meeting, said Dingwall.

Council gave final approval to phases three and four of the Golden Ears Business Park in May of 2018, over strong opposition from the neighbourhood.

Before it passed, residents of South Bonson had a petition of 1,600 names opposing the next phases, and they showed up more than 500 strong to a public hearing, where the majority spoke against it.

Dingwall and Coun. Tracy Miyashita voted against the development application, and spoke against it on the basis of public opposition. They campaigned in October’s local elections on a promise to re-open discussions with the developer.

Council unanimously passed a motion to direct the mayor and chief administrative officer to schedule a meeting with the property owner of Golden Ears Business Park to discuss the use of lands for light industrial and alternative uses for phases three and four.

Dingwall said the placement of an amenity contribution from the developer– eight acres of park land slated to be developed into two artificial turf sports fields – could be key in community acceptance.

It could be placed in a way that provides a buffer for residential neighbourhoods.

But the types of buildings will also be part of his pitch to Onni.

“I’m really looking at another vision, and whether something else works with [phases] three and four,” said Dingwall.

He has mentioned commercial and residential buildings, including a seniors home, but would not offer more details about exactly what he will propose to Onni. He would like the developer to hear it first from himself and CAO Mark Roberts.

Convincing Onni is not the only hurdle.

If Onni does agree to change the development, the Metro Vancouver Regional District could object based on its regional land use planning.

Dingwall said it would be up to the city to “look at taking on the regional growth strategy.”

He said there are precedents of other municipalities in the region changing the regional growth strategy to accommodate their city’s needs.

In any case, he said the scale of the Onni development is so large that phases one and two of the Golden Ears Business Park already met the targets for light industrial development in the area.

Onni promotes its “Golden Opportunity” as 200 acres of prime industrial land, with four million square feet of build-able area.

The Pitt Meadows Regional Airport is continuing to develop, providing more job-creating properties. So Dingwall doesn’t anticipate a loud objection from Metro.

“We have already met our growth numbers in terms of expectations of Pitt Meadows for industrial lands.”

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