What's the future of Maillardville
The fate of a new plan for Coquitlam's oldest neighbourhood will be decided by the residents and area business people, the mayor said last week.
Mayor Richard Stewart said at the March 10 council meeting the success of the new Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan will depend on whether the community "embraces" it.
Stewart made the comments as city council unanimously granted first reading to the proposed neighbourhood plan, a draft document that has been at least five years in the making and is aimed to push the historically French-Canadian enclave out from its crossroads.
For years, council and city staff have talked — and held open houses and information meetings — about Maillardville's potential, and millions of government dollars have been injected in an attempt to turn around the neighbourhood. City tax incentives were expected to spur spin-offs and encourage revitalization; the long-awaited expansion to the Place Maillardville community centre also has yet to launch.
A 2006 report commissioned by the Société Maillardville-Uni and paid for by Industry Canada made recommendations to attract businesses and tourists. Little happened.
Lately, however, there have been some signs of progress, including the $2.6-million redevelopment of the north part of Mackin Park, the completion (or near completion) of area watershed management plans and the preservation of heritage homes and buildings.
And with the public hearing scheduled for March 31 on the proposed neighbourhood plan, Coun. Craig Hodge, chair of the city's Maillardville commercial and cultural revitalization advisory committee, said he hopes residents and business people will come out to speak.
"I want to see the vibrancy return to the community," Hodge said, adding, "I think we are doing a better job today [in promoting Maillardville] than we have in the past."
The draft Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan is a 20- to 25-year guide that calls for, among other things, 6,000 more residents in the 105-year-old community, more multi-family housing and office space, and a move to celebrate the area's history.
As well, two Heritage Character Areas will be created in Laval Square and Allard-LeBleu, more trails will be forged and Brunette Avenue will turn into a prominent main street as it is dressed up as a processional route from Lougheed Highway to Laval Square.
"Heritage-inspired" French-Canadian designs will also be encouraged with new buildings.
Coun. Mae Reid said she would like to see the city rejuvenate Maillardville block by block, rather than piecemeal, while Coun. Lou Sekora said he has concerns about parking.
Council will consider further bylaw readings of the neighbourhood plan after the March 31 public hearing.