Lots of work planned along Evergreen Line
As Coquitlam positions itself for massive growth over the next few years to get ready for the Evergreen Line, city managers are trying to find the best way to get residents involved to shape growth.
Currently, city staff are working on four neighbourhood and area plans to concentrate the influx — in City Centre, Maillardville and Burquitlam as well as in Partington Creek, a new area on Burke Mountain.
Bruce Irvine, Coquitlam’s manager of community planning, said the Partington Creek early designs will come before city council Jan. 30 while the next steps for City Centre will be discussed next month.
But according to a 2012 action plan report released Monday, the neighbourhood plan update for Burquitlam — where development pressures are being felt in anticipation of an Evergreen Line station by Burquitlam Plaza — is listed as “currently not resourced,” a comment that annoyed many councillors at the council-in-committee meeting.
“We’ve been working full-out and we’ve had more success in getting more efficient in the planning department,” Irvine told The Tri-City News Wednesday. “Burquitlam is important. It needs a new area plan because it’s got the Evergreen Line. It’s got significant demands now for higher-density development in that area. And we really do recognize that we need to improve the overall community amenities in that greater area.”
The challenge with neighbourhood plans, he said, is tying them with engineering, transportation and environmental studies as well as increased consultation. Public input is key to moving the projects ahead, but Irvine said there’s a sense of “stakeholder fatigue.”
“We’re finding that those individuals who are kind enough to step up and represent their communities are almost always the same individuals,” Irvine said.
“The most difficult thing [planners] are faced with is, how do you engage the satisfied and the content? How do you engage the silent majority?”
At Monday’s council-in-committee, councillors suggested a number of outreach methods, including social media, “tailor-made” open houses and contact at festivals and other big events. As well, they suggested staff deal with “prickly issues” around neighbourhood rejuvenation at the start of plans to hash out residents’ concerns.
Last year, after the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Plan was unanimously adopted by council after several years of consultation, councillors were accused of “hiding” the fact that 15 new highrises were planned for Austin Avenue.
“We’re trying to avoid another Austin Heights,” Coun. Terry O’Neill said Monday. “Lessons were learned.”
As for last month’s Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan open house, of the 180 people who attended, half said they heard about it through printed material — i.e., newspaper ads and newsletter/flyer — while the rest were alerted to it through an email or word-of-mouth, according to a city report.
UP, UP AND AWAY
The sales centre for the first highrise to be built in Coquitlam’s Austin Heights under its neighbourhood redevelopment plan opens next week.
Beedie Living’s presentation centre for The Austin — a 19-storey tower at Blue Mountain Street and Austin Avenue — will open at noon Jan. 28 at Unit J, 1001 Austin Ave.
Designed to Built Green standards, The Austin will include a 9,000 sq. ft. private rooftop garden and a recycling facility as well as commercial space at street level.
The homes range in size from 417 sq. ft. for a “junior one-bedroom” to 1,431 sq. ft. for a penthouse.
The controversial development upset some neighbourhood residents when Beedie brought its bid forward last year at 24 storeys. Many homeowners complained about the height as well as the extra traffic and shadows from the building.