Onni’s Golden Ears Business Park has been given final approval by Pitt Meadows Council.

Pitt Meadows approves Onni’s business park

Golden Ears Business Park will develop 2oo acres

Pitt Meadows council gave Onni final approval Tuesday for Phases 3 and 4 of the Golden Ears Business Park.

The rezoning bylaws both passed by 4-2 votes, with Couns. Bill Dingwall and Tracy Miyashita opposed.

Dingwall said the development on Harris Road at Airport Way is a poor fit next to residential neighbours.

“Non-residential taxes is one of many considerations, no question about it, but at what cost to our community, and community livability?” asked Dingwall. “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 added that council is working on a civic engagement framework, but “we need to walk the talk.”

Miyashita voted against development to respect the outspoken community opposition.

She acknowledged the projects will provide jobs and increased taxation, but said they will come at the expense of quality of life.

“But once we develop this, we can’t go back. It’s no longer ‘The Natural Place,’” she said.

“My job on council is really to listen to residents … and you’ve been very clear about your opinion about this,” she told the audience. “So I’m not going to support it for that reason.”

Mayor John Becker said the plan to develop the site for light industrial use goes back the late 1990s, when the city was dealing with losing a mill site in the area and industrial taxes.

He said the argument was made to open the waterfront for residential development, but the “tradeoff” would be to develop the Cardiff Farm properties for light industrial to provide new jobs and a non-residential tax base.

Council has heard the business park will develop 200 acres in all four phases, will create an estimated 5,000 jobs and the city will collect an estimated $6.4 million in taxes from the completed development.

“This has been part of the planning, part of the economic visioning of this community for going on 20 years,” said Becker.

He acknowledged the impacts, but said the Meadowvale Shopping Centre, Bonson’s Landing, Osprey Village and the airport developments all had impacts on neighbours.

For the first time in Pitt Meadows, there will be a community construction interface committee, to deal with the effects of construction on the neighbourhood livability.

“It will assure the economic base of this community for decades to come,” he said of the business park, adding there will be no need for the city to encroach on the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“So I’m supportive, and I’m excited.”

Coun. Janis Elkerton said light industrial has more future than the commercial development some of the business park opponents, including Dingwall, have proposed.

Elkerton said the amenity contribution as part of the project is the best deal seen in any community for the amount of land given to the city – almost 11 acres to be used for a sports field project.

It will include 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.

Coun. Bruce Bell supported it for the increased tax base, jobs and the amenity contribution.

He said the city received a $250,00 skateboard park for the first two phases, compared with up to $25 million worth of contributions to the city in this phase.

“This has been on the books for years, and I believe it’s the right thing to do for Pitt Meadows,” he said.

Coun. Mike Stark said council has brought forward amendments to the bylaws that will mitigate the impacts on residents nearby.

“We all have tough decisions to make on council. We have to sift through the pros and cons, the emotion and the rhetoric and come to a decision that is in the best interests of all citizens of Pitt Meadows,” he said.

Lisa Grant, manager of community development, noted that since third reading on June 27, there have been 17 motions that put restrictions on the development, including the height of buildings, setbacks from property lines and other issues.

Dingwall noted that some of the changes in land use will allow a restaurant, childcare, microbrewery, dog daycare and other commercial services.

He acknowledge there are “some really good things in there and make the plan more palatable.”

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