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Making Coquitlam 'Evergreen' ready
Major developments targeted around the new rapid-transit stations in Coquitlam are forcing the city to fast-track its plans to make the municipality "Evergreen Line ready."
At a council meeting last month, councillors adopted the Transit-Oriented Development Strategy (TOD), a visioning document aimed to guide growth around the city's four upcoming stops, currently named the Burquitlam, Coquitlam Central, Lincoln and Douglas College stations.
City managers said general policies pertaining to land use, density and design had to be put in place quickly as pressure is mounting from the development community, which is anxious to build residential and commercial units before Evergreen goes up in four years.
But, in discussions that took place at the July 30 council-in-committee meeting, city managers also stressed many key decisions about Community Amenity Contributions, the rental housing stock in Burquitlam and parking requirements still needed to be sorted out by city hall.
Staff reports on those three topics will likely come forward next month.
Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam's planning and development GM, said council has some time on its side as the big development bids expected this fall will be at the pre-application stage.
"We are going as fast as we can," city manager Peter Steblin said, noting he hopes the strategy will "create momentum" in the Burquitlam and City Centre neighbourhoods.
Earlier this year, Calgary consultant Bruce Irvine — a former Coquitlam planning manager who is heading up the strategy — said the city has been inundated with queries from developers wanting to build within a five- to 10-minute walking distance from the Evergreen stations.
In summary, the TOD strategy follows six objectives for building around the stations:
• creating compact, complete neighbourhoods;
• developing transit-supportive density;
• implement high-quality urban design;
• creating "great" places;
• promoting transportation choices;
• and managing parking.
The latter point has been sore spot for council recently as staff continue to refine the city's parking management plan, especially as new buildings rise around Evergreen.
City staff have recommended tightening up the number of residential parking stalls for new complexes — and developers who want fewer spaces can pay a city amenity levy instead.
Coun. Mae Reid, a realtor, suggested developers who want to build around stations can sell their suites without parking at a discounted rate. Reid also doesn't want the city to be too stringent with parking in the first five years after the $1.4-billion line opens.
"There's no doubt in our minds that people need a place to sit their car even if they are close to the Evergreen Line," responded Bill Susak, Coquitlam's engineering GM.
Coun. Selina Robinson urged builders to sit tight until Coquitlam gets its ducks in a row for Evergreen planning. "We are sending a message to developers that we are still working things out," she said, "and there will be no clarity for two or three months."
The provincial government is set to announce the Evergreen builder by early fall.