It’s been called the “NeverGreen Line, in part because Port Moody council have been criticised for slowing development around it.
But as the Evergreen Line project races towards a 2017 completion date, the impact is being felt in the City of Port Moody.
He says when city hall moved location from Moody Centre to the developing Inlet Centre area in 1995, it effectually delayed the much needed revitalization throughout Moody Centre even longer.
Replacing industrial lands
It’s wonderful that there will be a new office building in the Inlet Centre, says Grasty, but the industrial waterfront and Moody Centre offer even more opportunities in the future with mixed development to replace heavy and light industrial.
And with that, the community can expect a large number of new jobs, and significant tax contributions.
Lagging behind other Tri-City communities…
By comparison, in 2015, Port Moody only issued permits for $21 million dollars worth of construction.
Grasty says the drastic difference in numbers is due to a moratorium that Port Moody put on densification projects in 2009.
“The regional government was moving in the direction of densified town centres based on transit oriented development from the early 90’s. With this in mind Port Moody allowed its population to double in the 15 year period to 2009. Funding allocated for the long awaited Murray Connector was pulled by Translink, so Port Moody put a moratorium on density development until the funding was committed to new infrastructure to help handle this growth. When the Evergreen Line finally received funding things slowly started getting back on track.”
He says while official community plan was finalized last year the delay did slow development.
“Yes, I would say it did. But there appears to be a tentativeness with certain councillors, and their recent council decision to not move forward on the Aragon proposal at the corner of Clarke and Moody, which met almost all of the planning criteria and more, seems to bear this out.”
Port Moody’s manager of development services James Stiver says planning staff did support the rezoning and proposed building.
He says Aragon plans fit the Community Plan, and had received the support of the City’s Advisory Design Panel and the Land Use Committee.
And the residents?
But not for long.
“We’re actually having to leave our house now, because this block is getting redeveloped for townhouses. I mean we’re really happy here, I really enjoy it. I spoke to a couple people, people that have sold, they are ok with it, and some people aren’t though. I feel like more and more, these kind of neighborhoods, we’re losing them to developing townhouses.”
Rebecca Saloustros, a resident on the same street, has mixed feelings about shovels hitting the ground for townhomes.
The house she’s lived in for 15 years has been sold – and she sees both the pros and the cons of the Evergreen Line.
“The positive of the Evergreen Line would be more affordable transit for some people. I take the West Coast Express to work but it’s kind of expensive, it’s $13.75 to go here and back from Port Moody to Vancouver. It’s certainly more effective cost-wise to take the Evergreen Line – so that would help people on fixed income.”
“Negatively, it will be busier. It will be less of a small community, the traffic may be a lot worse because people will park there as well, and those are my concerns.”
And Fred Soofi says new development is pushing long time residents out.
“We also have to realize, it’s effecting a loss of residence in a good and bad way. Bad way is because of evergreen, many of the rental units will be torn down and made into townhouses and condos, so they aren’t rental anymore. The people who are not in a position to buy a condo, they cannot live here, no place to live, no place to rent. So they are affected very badly, they are moving to Maple Ridge, and moving to Mission.”
Saving the city’s history, one house at a time
But for Soofi, there’s another component, saving some of the city’s history. There are currently 65 registered heritage homes in Port Moody.
“These houses are 50, 60, 80, 100 years old. If you don’t take care of what is there, which is the Sutherland House, which is a heritage house, then that will be torn down. So what I am going to do is I’m buying that, and moving it somewhere else so it can be preserved.”
Soofi is in the process of building, preserving and moving several heritage and character homes. While he doesn’t deny it makes him money, he says it’s about mixing the old with the new.
“These are character homes, and it’s good to preserve it if you can, so the next generation can see how their community was, because if you don’t have anything to show them, they won’t know their community.”
Change coming quickly
Soofi does admits it is time for a change.
“Community is changing in a big way. Port Moody has not changed for many years, suddenly with SkyTrain and people realizing it’s a great community. We are close to Vancouver, we are on the waterfront, we have so many parks, a small community and people are very much involved.”
Bur for Frank Cassidy who has less than a year to find a new home, it’s a bit more difficult to take.
“Yah it’s sad, I think it’s sad to be honest with you. I understand progression but I think there are some areas where they should keep it the way it is, that’s my personal view.”