Citizen engagement is going to have an impact on how Onni further develops its Golden Ears Business Park in South Bonson, said Pitt Meadows Coun. Bill Dingwall.
He credits the large turnout at city hall by those opposing the next phase of the light industrial park for council voting on Tuesday to hire a consultant for a comprehensive plan for the site, rather than accepting the developer’s ideas.
Onni will be asked to pay the consultant’s fees, which were estimated at $50,000 in 2013.
At Tuesday’s council in committee meeting, Dingwall pointed out that back then council considered the issue of hiring its own consultant for the development plan, but chose to accept one from Onni. He said it was a mistake to rely on something provided by the applicant.
“There’s an issue of trust,” Dingwall added.
Mayor John Becker argued against hiring a consultant for a development plan, that it would be a waste of time and money. He noted that council and citizens are reviewing a site plan that includes layout, density, road network, phasing, buffering, landscape design standards and more.
“This entire community is engage in that consultative process. It’s a bit drawn out, and it’s often passionate, but this is what we’re doing right now,” said Becker.
“As a community, we can get our way through this, in exactly this kind of process.”
Dingwall argued that the city’s own consultant would consider issues such as traffic throughout the entire community, which Onni has not.
A traffic study shows 45 per cent of the vehicles leaving the business park will travel down Bonson and Harris Roads.
“We’re already jammed up at the train tracks,” noted Dingwall.
He has several times accused his council colleagues of voting in a block, as Becker and councillors Bruce Bell, Janis Elkerton, David Murray and Mike Stark all ran as a team in the last election.
But the team members did not support the mayor’s position Tuesday night.
Bell said he was swayed by the argument of public trust, and by resident involvement.
“This is a big project – probably the biggest one that has hit Pitt Meadows, so we want to go through this. We want to do it right,” said Bell.
Becker attempted to have the motion deferred until the actual cost of the consultant work is known, but that motion was defeated.
Members of council maintained the development plan should consider light industrial land uses only, but Dingwall said that may be shortsighted.
“I believe we have to have a discussion about what are our options.”
He said if council is willing to change the plan in order to allow for a restaurant, as the developer has suggested, then council must also consider changes to allow for residents’ desires, whether for a dry cleaner, a daycare or residential development.
Dingwall said it was citizen complaints that motivated council to hire a consultant to look at the fill Onni is using for site preparation, and that resulted in work being shut down until environmental concerns were addressed.
“They are having an impact,” he said.