A significant 34-acre industrial site near the easternmost end of Burrard Inlet in Port Moody could be redeveloped into a new waterfront community for thousands of new residents.
Flavelle Oceanfront Development, the real estate asset division of Mill & Timber, is working with Brook Pooni Associates and Wensley Architecture to redevelop the Flavelle sawmill property just west of Rocky Point Park, framed by the inlet to the north and west and Columbia, Muray, and Esplanade streets to the south.
According to public documents, the project will create a floor area of 3.6 million square feet. That will include:
Much of the new space will be within a dozen towers reaching up to 38 storeys in height, mixed in with low-rise podiums.
Commercial and office spaces and a potential hotel are located on the eastern half of the site while light industrial uses are slated for a city block-sized parcel of land on the southern border of the site.
There will be approximately 3,400 units of residential within a variety of configurations, including condominiums, street-oriented townhouses, low-rise podium rental units, and potentially boathouses.
Altogether, when fully complete, the redevelopment could house 1,000 jobs and 7,000 residents, effectively increasing Port Moody’s present day population by 20% – from 34,000 to 41,000.
However, the overall density of the redevelopment will be relatively low for a new mixed-use transit-oriented neighbourhood as it will have a floor space ratio density of 2.65, largely a result of the ample green and public spaces planned.
Proponents claim 52% of the sawmill site will be transformed into parks and open spaces, including four park areas totalling 4.9 acres, 1.3 kms of new recreational trails, a boardwalk along the waterfront connecting to Rocky Point Park, and a 1.9-acre public plaza capable of hosting community events and festivals.
But the scale of the project is only being put forward because of its close proximity to the recently opened Evergreen extension of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line. Port Moody Station, served by both SkyTrain and the West Coast Express, is approximately a 10 minute walk away from the proposed. neighbourhood.
A new street network within the site is supported by a new road overpass over the railways – a northern extension of May Street.
Construction is still years away if the project is to proceed. For the redevelopment to move forward, the City of Port Moody needs to redesignate the sawmill property from general industrial to ‘mixed-use – oceanfront district’, and the final decision would subsequently be made by the Metro Vancouver Regional District on whether to remove the site’s industrial designation.
The municipal government’s previous application to remove the sawmill site from Metro Vancouver’s industrial land base nearly three years ago was rejected, and the project could be met with renewed resistance again.
There is growing pressure to protect the region’s limited and shrinking industrial land base for traditional industrial uses. Such industrial sites across the region are increasingly being used for other purposes, such as business parks, tech and digital industry offices, and redevelopments into residential neighbourhoods.
A recent study by the Port of Vancouver warned that the 1,000 acres of vacant industrial lands that remain in the region will be used up by the end of the decade due to strong demand spurred by growing port activity. To support the large segment of the regional economy that revolves around port operations, the region will need between 1,500 and 3,000 acres of industrial land over the next decade.
But the proponents of the redevelopment assert that the Flavelle sawmill site is not ideal for industrial uses as it does not have a rail spur, which requires goods to be transported by truck, and it is a long six-hour trip for barges from the sawmill to the Second Narrows Bridge.
There are also artificial impediments for the site’s continued use for industrial activity as Port Moody has the highest tax rate for major industry amongst the Tri-Cities and in the Lower Mainland at $73.78 per $1,000 of assessed value. In contrast, Surrey and Richmond’s industrial tax rates are $20 and $19, respectively, per $1,000 of assessed value.
Following another round of public consultation tonight from 6 to 9 pm at Port Moody City Hall (100 Newport Drive), the redevelopment will be reviewed by the municipal government’s Community Advisory Planning Committee before it is sent to City Council for approval.