Our main issues as I see them are:
Sustainability and Climate Adaptation
Another issue is the division in our community. Discussions about future developments have polarized our community, in Council chambers, online and in our neighbourhoods. We need a Council that leads by example, showing that we can have productive discussions and disagree civilly while still coming to a decision. Deep discussions and a clear vision will help Council set the policy that will drive future changes in our city.
Liveability and Sustainable Development
- Collaboration and consistency: We need to make consistent decisions, in a timely manner, that benefit everyone.
- Strong vision of the future: We need a variety of forms of development – not only residential with ground floor retail, but also light and heavy industrial, other commercial land uses and institutional (education and health care).
- Future city amenities: Amenities make our city and neighbourhoods more liveable. As our infrastructure community grows, our amenities must reflect the changing needs of our community.
- Aging infrastructure: The livability of our city depends on our ability to strike a balance between building homes for young people, singles, families and seniors, investing in our amenities and community spaces to preserve our unique neighbourhoods, and appropriately planning and investing in the infrastructure to support increased population growth across the region.
Housing and transportation growth
Even if Port Moody’s population does not increase because no new housing is built, our infrastructure will still be impacted by growth in neighbouring communities. We don’t exist in a vacuum so we must work with neighbouring cities to develop a comprehensive plan to address transportation and housing growth in the Tri-Cities.
This is a hot topic in our city and our region. Housing prices have skyrocketed and I know that my family is fortunate to own our apartment (if we had to buy today, we would not be living here). It is important to recognize the role the City can play in affordable housing while also understanding the limitations imposed on us by the Community Charter. As a councillor, I will work with the Province and other organizations to advance affordable housing and diverse housing forms to ensure that residents and newcomers can enjoy all stages of their lives in our city.
Any future developments or changes to our city must include options for everyone and also include spaces for businesses (see next section – Economic Development). But as these decisions are made, Council must stick to the overarching vision for our community as outlined by our Official Community Plan, and apply a consistent set of principles, decision criteria and goals to each development application. Lengthy processes with last minute requests hurt our residents and our business community, leaving them in limbo. These processes are slow by its nature, but Council should not be the cause of unnecessary delays.
As a councillor, I will work to build consensus and collaborate with residents, businesses and developers to ensure we have the best projects for the city going forward. I will work to ensure we make timely decisions that advance the best interests of our community.
Development cost charges
We must be cautious and practical when using DCCs to fund infrastructure projects if we want housing to remain affordable. DCCs are paid by the developer but this adds to the expense of a project and ultimately is passed on to the buyer. DCCs have a role to play in the creation of our neighbourhoods but we can’t rely solely on this “one-time” source of income for the city. We need to look at other collaborative models and funds available from other levels of government and private sector players.
City of the Arts
We don’t seem to be living up to that vision at the moment so there is significant opportunity for improvement. In any future changes to our city, we must consider the needs of the artists and how the City can support the growth of the arts community.
The city has undertaken some great initiatives – such as the banner competition which was unfortunately delayed by COVID-19 – however, there are many more things we can do to foster and grow the arts community in Port Moody, including considering the needs of artists in the development application process. For example, it would be fantastic to see murals all around our city, adding to the many murals that exist on buildings along the Skytrain route such as Gabi & Jules, TruLine Auto and Parkside Brewery, and buildings adjacent to the skate park.
The full implementation of the comprehensive Arts & Culture Master Plan plus additional policies and programs to fill any gaps, can further support the creation and display of art in our community to create a sense of place and engagement.
- Business retention: We need to keep our existing businesses and create new opportunities for them and new businesses in the city (as per the Economic Development Strategic Plan).
- Local businesses as partners and contributors: Our locally owned and operated businesses contribute in many ways, some intangible, to the character and well-being of the city. Businesses that grow here, hire here.
- Complete communities: Building complete communities allow residents to do all their day-to-day errands within our city – this includes car repair, grocery shopping, and personal needs and activities. It also reduces the need for vehicle travel. Some areas of our city lack options and require a vehicle for daily needs. We already have some great examples of complete communities such as Newport Village and Suter Brook. These communities also foster our connection to our neighbours and contribute to our overall well-being – we need more neighbourhoods like this. In 2004, we won a UN Livable Cities Award – let’s work to get back there again.
Supporting local business
Our local businesses contribute so much to our community – they support fundraisers, they employ our residents – including first jobs for our youth, contribute to neighbourhood character and they spend their money here too. They are the economic backbone and without them, our community would look and feel very different. LOCO BC estimates that local businesses recirculate $63 out of every $100 earned back into the local economy, compared to multinational companies.
Our city has a high proportion of locally owned and operated businesses which lend to its charm. However, we also have a very low vacancy rate for industrial and commercial spaces. Some of our home-grown businesses are growing and looking for more space but may not be able to stay because of the lack of options in Port Moody.
In any future developments, we need to preserve existing industrial spaces (both light and heavy) and expand our commercial floor space. Future developments can’t only be residential with ground floor retail spaces, replacing valuable light industrial land. While this is important too, it can’t be at the expense of existing businesses with deep roots in Port Moody. We need a variety of businesses/employers to ensure diverse job opportunities for our community, ensuring live, work, create and play opportunities for our residents.
The city’s role is to ensure a diversity of new commercial and industrial spaces through policy, allowing for the creation of a range of commercial and industrial spaces that will create an inviting city for businesses. New businesses will also help to develop a broader tax base and consequently, provide more revenue to the city. More revenue through tax base diversification means more money for existing and new amenities.
Ultimately, I believe we should be able to get all our day-to-day needs met within our home neighbourhood or city. To me, that means all our daily errands can be completed without depending on a car, including going to work. This is why we need to build complete, sustainable communities.
Loss of industrial space
Industrial lands comprise about 4% of Metro Vancouver’s land base and contribute 27% of the jobs. The development of new industrial space has not kept pace with demand, and the vacancy rate (1.4%) in the region is amongst the lowest in North America. Combined with high land prices, this contributes to significant pressure on existing users of industrial land, such that industrial businesses are competing for and being displaced from the region. This threatens the economic diversity of our regional economy. Businesses on industrial lands generate 30% of the region’s GDP and on average have 10% higher wages than the regional average. Reference: Regional Industrial Lands Strategy, Metro Vancouver 2020.
Did you know? Major industry pays 15 times more (per $1000 in assessed value) in property tax than residential properties. Light industry and other businesses pay 4 and 2 times, respectively. These businesses are an important financial contributors to our community and the loss of income from the closure of Burrard Thermal and Flavelle Mill affected the City’s bottom line. We need to encourage creative, “outside the box” thinking and get those lands working for our community again through tax revenue and job creation. Reference: Port Moody mill rates.
Sustainability and Climate Action
Climate action is urgent. As one of the co-authors of the consulting team that helped Port Moody develop its Climate Action Plan, we need to take action and fully implement the plan.
Any future development, infrastructure renewal or expansion must be looked at through the lens of climate: what are the impacts on our environment and climate, how can we adapt to ensure our city remains liveable and safe and what can we do to mitigate the effects of climate change on our infrastructure and built environment?
I believe Council should be a collaborative environment where collectively, with the support of City staff and input from residents, we can get things done for our city. Not only will Council advance projects and policies that will improve our residents’ quality of life, but making progress in a timely manner is an efficient use of city resources (staff, time and money).
Additionally, we need Councillors that will act in the best interests of our community, rather than advancing their own viewpoints.