COQUITLAM: Getting ready for Evergreen
If the city of Coquitlam hopes to welcome the Evergreen Line, build a new library and manage growth in its next term, members of city council will have to set aside their past political differences and build consensus.
That was the message during Mayor Richard Stewart’s inaugural address Monday evening in which he vowed to bring the diverse group of councillors together after a particularly divisive election campaign.
“I believe it is the mayor’s role not only to search for consensus but to help build consensus,” he told those in a packed council chambers. “My pledge is to work even harder to help foster that teamwork.”
Stewart took the opportunity to welcome new councillors Craig Hodge and Terry O’Neill, and said goodbye to departing member Doug Macdonell. He even had a few conciliatory words for mayoral challenger and former councillor Barrie Lynch, who was absent from Monday’s meeting.
With provincial, federal and TransLink funds now earmarked for the construction of the Evergreen Line, Stewart said he expects to see shovels in the ground in the next few months. Building the rapid transit project, he added, will be a pivotal moment in Coquitlam’s history and will transform large areas of the municipality into sustainable residential and commercial hubs.
Growth will also be a factor, as Coquitlam’s population is set to expand considerably over the next few years. Stewart said council will focus on developing neighbourhood plans, particularly for the areas of Maillardville and Burquitlam, with help and input from the community.
“Growth is both a challenge and an opportunity,” he said. “With growth comes the prosperity of new investment. And if handled properly, growth can help fund new infrastructure that serves the entire community. Growth also brings new and greater demand for services that people see as essential.”
One of the services seeing greater demand is the city’s library. Stewart said that the municipality outgrew its City Centre branch, located in the basement of city hall, years ago and a new facility is slated to be opened in the next few months in an existing building next to Henderson Place on Pinetree Way.
The importance of developing a homeless shelter at 3030 Gordon Ave. was highlighted in the mayor’s inaugural address, along with efforts to make Coquitlam a sports tourism destination.
Councillors took the opportunity to thank their families, friends and campaign volunteers as each member of the nine-person council lined up to take his or her oath of office.
The meeting opened with a procession of firefighters led by a bagpiper before the crowd sang “O Canada” and Rev. John Davies said a prayer.
The next council meeting will take place on Dec. 12, when committee appointments are expected to be announced for the next year.
Stewart won his second term as mayor in the Nov. 19 civic election, collecting 10,050 votes, easily besting Lynch, who earned 7,591 votes.