Design plans for the Golden Ears Business Park are now more appealing, but opponents in South Bonson still have traffic concerns.
Kate Lambert, of IBI Group, presented Pitt Meadows council with an architectural and design review on Tuesday.
Corrine O’Handley, an outspoken opponent of developer Onni’s proposed 200-acre industrial park, was pleased with the design changes, but still questioned whether the area is right for a business park.
“The plans are excellent,” she said, with more thought given to esthetics – a campus style, tiered roofing and more walkways.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction – if we must have a business park.”
Onni is in the process of building the second of four phases of the business park, which in total would result in up to four million square feet of light industrial space.
Coun. Bill Dingwall, who served on the design advisory panel, called the approach “principled, strategic and thoughtful,” and said it resulted in a significant improvement.
“For me, concrete tip-ups, with a few trim pieces are a no-go, and you’ve gone well, well beyond that,” said Dingwall.
The design presentation was followed by a report from traffic consultant McElhanney. It studied impacts not just in the South Bonson area, but up Harris Road.
“I say this very respectfully: your presentation scared the hell out of me,” said Coun. Tracy Miyashita, who asserted that proposed pedestrian crossings will not make Airport Way safer for those on foot.
“I think that pedestrian crossings give us a false sense of security. It’s very hard for speeding traffic and trucks to stop on a dime, and when a child presses that button, they go across. And I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands crossing Harris Road, let alone Airport Way, which is insane.”
She also criticized the consultant taking traffic counts during the summer, saying they would be lower than during the school year.
The proposed developments expected to be completed by 2021 were estimated to generate an additional 1,401 weekday morning peak-hour trips, and 1,850 weekday evening peak-hour trips (448 inbound and 1,402 outbound).
“Increasing the traffic is not a good idea,” Miyashita said.
Dingwall agreed that traffic volume and safety are “a major concern,” and said he has seen “huge increases in traffic” already.
He noted that the 5,000 new parking spots generated by the business park, combined with the new 200-unit Sutton Place townhouse complex Onni is developing, will create too much traffic for the existing infrastructure.
Mayor John Becker said he had met with TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, who is willing to talk about improved shuttle service within the community, to connect travelers with the proposed new B Line rapid bus service and the West Coast Express.
“Clearly we can’t keep building roads out of congestion,” said Becker. “We do have to get public transit in place.
“It has to be a multi-pronged strategy.”
The report raised traffic safety concerns and council asked staff to come back with recommendations for improvements.
Becker noted after the meeting that the area’s roads have been designed for the business park traffic, in accordance with the community plan.
Airport Way can be expanded to four lanes.
Council can also consider a pedestrian overpass on Airport Way, and could slow traffic by making roundabouts into controlled intersections with lights.
Becker expects those kinds of recommendations in the staff report.
Council also asked staff to prepare bylaw amendments to allow a greater range of businesses in the industrial park, which could include restaurants and daycares.