Onni will donate almost 11 acres for sports fields as part of its Golden Ears Business Park development.

Onni will donate almost 11 acres for sports fields as part of its Golden Ears Business Park development.

Public will have its say about Pitt Meadows industrial park

Onni’s business park facing public opposition

Pitt Meadows councillors don’t like everything in Onni’s plans for the Golden Ears Business Park, but are putting the issue to the public.

Residents can have their say about phases three and four, balancing issues such as setbacks and whether building heights should be 12m or 15m, against the benefits of the development, which will include an amenity contribution of almost 11 acres of park land to be used for two artificial turf sports fields.

Public meetings have been scheduled for June, but South Bonson residents couldn’t wait to voice their opinions. About 50 people with placards protested in front of city hall before Tuesday’s meeting, and council chambers was filled to overflowing with more than 100 people for the meeting.

On Tuesday they were permitted to speak only for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the meeting, during time set aside for questions and comments from the public.

The first to the mic on the issue was former mayor Don McLean, who touted phases three and four of the business park. He estimated the business park will create almost 3,000 jobs in all four phases, and the latter two will bring direct taxes of $1.7 million to the municipality.

“The amenity contriubtion of 10.88 acres is something I’ve never seen in the region before,” he said. “I was surprised it ever got as high as it is.”

He added that the development will also help satisfy a “pressing need for industrial land in the GVRD.”

Mayor John Becker said council has been dealing with Onni’s development for a long time, and it is simply time for public feedback.

“I am happy enough with this proposal to pub it to the public,” he said. “There are things I want to see changed.”

Coun. Bruce Bell also agreed he would not support the development as proposed, after having toured the property with Coun. Mike Stark.

“I’ve got a whole list … of concerns,” said Stark. “I will not support what we saw for a design here tonight.”

He stressed that he wants to hear from the public.

“Don’t ever think this is a done deal, until it gets to fourth reading and adoption.”

Coun. Bill Dingwall spoke at length about his concerns, including double roundabouts, the need for 20m buffers and obstructed sightlines because of building heights.

“The field amenity is there to sweeten a sour deal,”’ said Dingwall.

Bob Meachen, an area resident said the amenity for soccer fields is being used as a bargaining chip by the developer to put building heights from 12m to 15m.

“Onni is not giving us the land out of the goodness of their heart, they are doing because it does allow them some negotiation to change building standards from the OCP … to now go with 15m heights,” said Meachen.

“Our buffer zones are now narrower, and we are going to be closer to the industrial park.”

“If we didn’t like these plans a year ago, I don’t see what has changed so drastically that we are prepared to move forward now,” said another resident, Robyn Chisholm.

She asked about next steps. Becker replied the public meeting process for the development will be different than the typical public meeting for rezoning.It will be a separate evening, rather than part of council meeting, and decisions will not be made by council that night.

“We will hear the results of the public hearing, and the matter will then come back before council … for third reading,” said Becker.

Council gave the development’s bylaws first and second readings, agreed to tour the site as a council, and set June 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre.

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