Still opposition to Onni

Next phase of plans for industrial park expansion is back before Pitt Meadows council.

Plans to expand a light industrial park in Pitt Meadows are back before council, and opponents of the development are back at city hall, too.

The Onni Group has built and rented the first phase of the Golden Ears Business Park. It is in the process of building the second phase and working on the third and fourth.

When it is completely built, the business park is to consist of four million square feet in South Bonson.

But area residents say the next phases of the business park will be an eyesore and increase traffic to dangerous levels.

Bob Meachen said it appears that council is willing to make amendments to the official community plan to accommodate Onni, which is asking for the buildings to be 15 metres high. Currently the buildings are allowed to be 12m high in a light industrial zone.

While the development has a “college campus” look in the artist concepts provided to city hall, Meachen said the plans call for “straight ranks of buildings.”

At the same time, he said council refuses to change the OCP on behalf of residents, who would like to see more residential development in South Bonson.

“Traffic is going to be a nightmare,” he said. “Why? Five thousand parking spaces – that’s why.”

And he said there are real concerns about flooding.

“Once they pave that whole thing over, where’s the water going to go?”

Meachen said residents will push for mixed use rezoning, allowing restaurants and other businesses to serve residential neighbourhoods, and he would like to see a seniors residence considered.

He is one of the spokespeople for a group that calls itself Residents United – Golden Ears Business Park. They held a meeting in the middle of April that was attended by 400 people, and Meachen said they are “100 per cent opposed to the proposed plans.”

In April 2015, Onni held a public consultation at the South Bonson Community Centre, where it presented a site plan. There were 47 people in attendance, and they expressed concerns over traffic, the loss of agricultural land, the height of buildings, declining property values and the overall business park land use.

Mayor John Becker stressed the plans are Onni’s submissions, for council to review.

But he said council is not going to stop Onni’s overall plans to develop the area as a business park. He said the plans for light industry in South Bonson have been in place for two decades. Past councils have already rejected a proposed strip mall there.

“We are not going to enter into discussions of a non-business park development of those properties,” he said.

The plans were on the agenda Tuesday night for discussion in council in committee. At those meetings, issues are discussed, but final votes are at regular council, and the issue will be back before council later this month.

Council was to discuss covenants to restrict the number of driveways, make sure no loading bays face residential areas, and that there be landscape buffers.

South Bonson residents have also opposed an Onni townhouse development on Sutton Avenue, and city hall is now recommending that the density be reduced from a maximum of 247 to 220 units.

Becker asserted that rezoning both Onni developments has been “the most extended and transparent process in the history of the city.”

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