SmartCentres says it will build Pitt Meadows mall connector road

City councillors remain skeptical, wants to know how much company's promising

  • Feb. 26, 2015 6:00 a.m.

North Lougheed mall development back on council agenda.

SmartCentres has offered to pay for part of the North Lougheed connector in order to get approvals to build a new mall in Pitt Meadows.

The developer, whose clients include Walmart, told council Tuesday that it would construct a two-lane road stretching from Harris Road to Abernethy Way.

The road would service development of 65 acres of land on the north side of Lougheed Highway.

David Major, land development manager for SmartCentres, said he hopes a dialogue with the new council will kickstart the development of the North Lougheed lands and, in turn, allow the city to start collecting commercial property taxes in the area.

“What I find that, so often is the case when I meet people in the community, particularly leading up to last November’s election, that there’s a lot of misinformation about who we are, what we own or control in the north Lougheed area, and what our future involvement could be in the future build-out of these lands,” said Major.

SmartCentres hopes to develop 43 acres of its land for a shopping centre and upwards of 19 acres for a business or light industrial park.

Major said their project could create as much as $2 million in tax revenue for the city, as well as 1,200 jobs.

Still, Pitt Meadows council remains skeptical.

The last time SmartCentres came before council, prior to the November election, its plans were opposed by Coun. David Murray, Bruce Bell and Janis Elkerton.

All three were reelected.

On Tuesday, Elkerton wanted to know how much SmartCentres was willing to put up for the construction of the North Lougheed connector.

“What would SmartCentres’ contribution be to the road – $10 million, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million?” she asked.

Major did not have an estimate of the cost to build the section.

Previous cost estimates to build the full connector have been tagged at around $20 million, plus additional costs of land acquisitions that could potentially double that number for an interchange, needed at Harris Road.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said this is the first time in a public arena that SmartCentres has made an offer to pay for the two-lane connector.

Becker said the offer is a step in the right direction gives council greater clarity in terms of the costing of the road as part of the larger North Lougheed study area.

“To characterize it as a step in the right direction depends on whether or not you support the development of the North Lougheed special study area for the commercial and mixed-use purposes or whether you don’t,” said the mayor.

“All I can do right now is marshal a transparent and intelligent process because I’m just not sure because of all the moving parts.”

Becker also said the proposed area has an estimated build-out of between 10 and 20 years, and council needs to continually revisit those plans as the changes in the community dictate.

He said it was a good first step for the new council to have an updated presentation from the proposed developer and background from staff.

“Council’s desire was to have current information that we all received at the same time.”

Becker said issue will be back on the council agenda at the end of April, and in that time council and staff will work to figure out more details, such as major road work funding that could be accessed if the connector is built.

Coun. Bill Dingwall also reiterated that the development has a number of moving pieces that makes it a complicated matter, everything from the costs of the connector to a CP Rail overpass that’s part of the city’s plans for the area.

Another hurdle facing the property development is SmartCentres’ plans to have a turning lane and light placed on Lougheed Highway for eastbound traffic, to enter the proposed development.

Major said SmartCentres hasn’t done a detailed traffic study of the area yet, but that the Ministry of Highways would listen to  proposals.

He stressed that a controlled light off the highway from the north side would be integral to the project.

“Trying to push that traffic through Meadow Gardens Way to the east is not fair to the neighbourhood,” he said “I also don’t think it would support the traffic volumes that would come out of a project of our size, so a signalized intersection would absolutely be critical importance to us.”

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