The Onni development showing the sports fields amenity.

The Onni development showing the sports fields amenity.

OUTLOOK: Looking again at Golden Ears Business Park

New Pitt Meadows mayor wants to revisit plans for final phases

  • Nov. 23, 2018 8:30 a.m.

In May 2018, Pitt Meadows council gave Onni final approval for Phases 3 and 4 of the Golden Ears Business Park.

However, with changes in the mayor’s chair and around the council table, the project is slated for more discussion.

In May, council gave final approval for the next phases of the Golden Ears Business Park, including a multi-million dollar sports field project.

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

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.

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.

Coun. Bob Meachen, who helped organize opposition to the remaining business park phases, 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.”

The opponents of the project felt that the character of the community will suffer for the addition of a sports field and other amenities.

The city would benefit from an enlarged tax base and more employment in the community, but there are strong voices in the community and with a revamped Council, there may be new considerations.

Mayor Bill Dingwall sees both sides of the coin. Non-residential taxes are one of many considerations, no question about it, but at what cost to our community, and community livability, he said.

“And does it jibe with what our citizens have been saying for three years.”

He said council has seen a petition with 1,600 names opposing the project, another survey of 400 people against it, and hosted a public hearing with 600-plus in attendance who were “overwhelmingly opposed to phases three and four.”

Dingwall plans to attend a meeting with Roberts to see if Onni would consider changing plans for the remaining phases, which the outgoing council approved.

“This would be a chance to possibly look at other options, and, with agreement, come up with something different. I’m still optimistic that can happen.”

He would suggest some mixed-use, including commercial, multi-unit residential and senior strata buildings.

If the meeting is successful, then the project could come back to staff and council and see what the project would look like.

Roberts points out that even if council and the developer agree on a new proposal, there is still a large Metro Vancouver component to be considered.

“There is a Regional Strategy that Metro Vancouver employs that is approved by the Mayor’s Council of Metro Vancouver and what we decide may or may not fit in with what they will permit.”

Roberts is optimistic that if the two parties are willing to talk, anything can happen.

Dingwall is also optimistic.

“In the end, we are looking to see the best use of the land, and the meet the wishes of the community.”

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