EDITORIAL: The future of Port Moody is taller, denser
Port Moody has come a long way since its early mill town days and doesn't look anything like the sleepy suburb of yesteryear. But if the draft official community plan released last week comes to fruition, the city could look very different in the future, with many more towers and denser development. The population could even double — to 60,000 — and for some, this transformation will come as a shock.
While the OCP is not written in stone and public discussion must take place before the plan is passed, it should come as no surprise to anybody that the Evergreen Line will spur new development, new forms of housing and many more people. That is exactly the point of rapid transit. While people like to joke that rapid transit has taken decades to get here, the truth is, it's being built for the future, not for today.
For SkyTrain technology to pay for itself, we need more density than exists today. The choice of SkyTrain over light rail, rather dictates that because of the price difference. Coquitlam is already well on its way to creating a transit-oriented city centre in preparation for the Evergreen. A new crane goes up, it seems, almost every day.
Port Moody has taken longer to make this adjustment. But that could soon change. The OCP uses transit-oriented design to propose denser neighbourhoods within a five- to 10-minute walking distance of Evergreen stations. This could potentially redraw older neighbourhoods, such as Moody Centre and Coronation Park, act as a catalyst in the west end (the so-called gateway precinct at the junction of Barnet Highway and St. Johns), revitalize Spring Street, and turn Murray Street into an exciting mix of residential, light and commercial properties across from the waterfront.
Another bit of a surprise in this draft OCP is that, with the coming of the Evergreen Line, Port Moody is looking at dropping all references to the Murray-Clarke Connector, long a wish of local commuters — and certainly for successive city councils. It seems the city is throwing its lot in with rapid transit instead of building more throughways.
This is a big change and food for thought for PoMo. It will be up to council to maintain vigilance over future developments in this area to ensure that they serve transit but, more importantly, serve people.