The Port Moody Nerd Park

Port Moody NerdAccording to the Tri-City News, Port Moody is close to signing a partnership agreement with a city in China as it moves ahead with plans for a high-technology business park. The agreement with Tianjin, Port Moody’s sister city near Beijing is to provide our city with information as local officials and business people create a proposal for the high-tech park.

What does Tianjin know that we don’t? Well they have a few of these parks of their own and they will “…show us how to get started and the difficulties they encontered because we don’t want to repeat their mistakes.” according to Mayor Joe Trasolini. “We want to be coached” he said. Fair enough but don’t our American friends down south in Silicon Valley know a bit about this stuff? What information can China provide us with other than how to pack 500 overworked, oppressed workers in a space fit for 50.

A city delegation travelled to China in June (using a $50,000 provincial grant under the BC-Asia Twinning Project, don’t ya know) to tour a handful of their successful technology parks. Their vision projects about 30 to 50 businesses wold set up shop in a campus-like setting which would include space for high tech businesses as well as “incubator” space where budding ventures would have room to grow. The theory is that these businesses would grow into companies that would relocate to bigger locations in Port Moody. Which begs the question “Does our small town really have room for this sort of development and do the majority of residents really want it?”

And where would they put this magical nerd park? One of the proposals is to infiltrate the West Coast Express parking lot, punting the lowly commuter out in his/her proverbial ass. They would plant a 400,000 square feet building in the parking lot which would combine incubator and leased business space, commercial operations and common conference areas. Have any of these brilliant city guys tried to do the morning commute lately? I suggest they try doing a real commute rather than the 10 minute drive to city hall they’re used to. Get there early boys or you won’t find a parking space and will be forced to patrol the streets within the area for a place to stick your car for the day.

So the obvious thing to do is reduce the parking by planting a nerd park in the midst of busy, exasperated commuters, right? A brilliant plan. This smells a bit like the Boathouse Restaurant fiasco. Substantially reduce the available parking for park visitors and boat launch users by allowing an extremely crappy restaurant to be built, leaving enough room for one Smart Car and four mopeds. (And I can’t stress how crappy The Boathouse is! It’s probably one of the worst restaurants I’ve ever had the displeasure of visiting. Really, it’s gawd-awful.)

The proposed high-tech park would be focused on one of a number of businesses: alternative energy, research, software development, biotechnology research and information security. The Westcoast Express parking lot is one of about five sites being considered but the others are on private land which would require an additional capital expenditure. This tells me the train parking area might be a foregone conclusion.

The strange thing about all of this is that it’s being pushed forward during the current economic climate. Why now and why the constant attempt to turn Port Moody from a small, comfortable and safe little town into a large, overpopulated city.

I think the plan stinks and hope it goes down in flames. We don’t need a technology park. We need somewhere to safely park our cars as we commute to our jobs. As the city’s infrastructure continues to bend under the weight of the large number of new condo and detached home owners, the plan is to introduce even more commuters to our overtaxed roads. This time the traffic will be coming IN as well as OUT so we’ll get it from both ends. Brilliant thinking guys. I’m holding my breath for the announcement that the city is proposing a rocket launch pad in Newport Village. Hey, who cares about the smoke and noise if it brings some dough into the city, right? Mission control…we have some idiots in city hall. Over and out.

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