Buses needed for busy Burke Mountain

A rendering from the 1975
A rendering from the 1975 'Concept for a New Community on Burke Mountain,' prepared for the Dunhill Development Corp. (an arm of the provincial government), when 80,000 more people were envisioned to live in the northeast region. The image shows an example of a proposed construction method using helicopters to move prefab housing units into place.

Coquitlam needs to get more aggressive when it comes to lobbying for transit on Burke Mountain, the mayor said this week.

Richard Stewart said he has tried twice to push TransLink to run buses to link the northeast region with the rest of the Tri-Cities, but to no avail.

"TransLink wants to wait for the density," he said at Monday's council-in-committee meeting. "I think it's time to get really aggressive. We have the only master-planned community this side of the [Fraser] river."

Stewart made the comments after city staff told the committee that the pace of Burke growth is higher than anticipated.

Community planning manager Bruce Irvine said an average of 12.6 homes per hectare are being built on Burke versus the 9.2 units/ha. envisioned for the three neighbourhood: Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek and Smiling Creek.

Since 2006, when the Eleanor Ward bridge opened across the Coquitlam River, about 1,320 Burke homes have been constructed on 32% of the developable land allocated in the Northeast Coquitlam Area Plan (NECAP).

And last year was the busiest year on the mountain with 480 building permits issued.

Irvine attributed the higher density to market trends, a demand for different housing types and affordability, and bylaw and policy changes More residents, he argued, are a good thing as they increase the tax base and make better use of the infrastructure.

But Coun. Craig Hodge, a longtime Burke resident, contended the population levels are greater than what city staff are suggesting as most of the detached homes have secondary suites.

Planner Andrew Young said all Burke zones can accommodate legal secondary suites though the city doesn't track the numbers.

"The time has come to get at least limited bus service up there," said Hodge, who is pressing for a route up David Avenue and down Coast Meridian Road to Port Coquitlam (currently, the closest bus route is C38, which can be picked up at Oxford Street or Victoria Drive).

City manager Peter Steblin said TransLink hasn't updated its transit service plan for the Tri-Cities in a decade; however, he was to raise the issue at a northeast sector city managers/mayors' meeting this week.

A call to TransLink was not returned by deadline Thursday.



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