A new home for Maillardville arts?

Architects to provide design options for a combined facility

A combined hub for Coquitlam’s Place des Arts, archives and heritage society is on the drawing board.

Last week, the city’s council-in-committee voted to move the capital project up to the Priority A list in the 2020 business plan, which, if approved by council in December, will see the arts and heritage facility planning bump to the top.

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Other Priority A action items for next year include the City Centre Four Corners master plan, the northeast recreation centre plan and a water conservation strategy.

The draft business plan is set to come before council in conjunction with the 2020 budget.

Donnie Rosa, Coquitlam’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture services, told The Tri-City News last week a consultant studied the city’s arts, culture and heritage assets two years ago and those results are laid out in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategic Plan.

And while the assessment found the Evergreen Cultural Centre is keeping pace, Place des Arts and the Coquitlam Heritage Society aren’t meeting their current demands — largely because of the extensive programming they provide in inadequate spaces (earlier this year, Coquitlam Archives moved from a room at city hall to a larger space in the same building as the City Centre branch of Coquitlam Public Library).

Both Place des Arts and Coquitlam Heritage are located in homes built more than 100 years ago, although Place des Arts has a 18,000-sq. ft. wing for classes and sessions that was added in 1996.

Both organizations are located on the same Brunette Avenue site, with Place des Arts in Ryan House and Coquitlam Heritage in Mackin House.

“We want to make sure we’re providing the right level of services,” Rosa said. “We’re growing as a city and those facilities are aging. We need to do our due diligence… and we need to move faster.”

Rosa pointed out 75% of Place des Arts’ users are under the age of 20; they take dance, visual arts, theatre and music lessons and attend camps.

In addition, Rosa said the architects designing the new arts/heritage venue will also see if the Riverview Hospital medical collection can also be included.

Currently, those historical items — which have undergone a professional inventory — are tucked away in climate-controlled storage facilities, out of the public eye.

Should the preliminary work proceed, Rosa said she anticipates construction to be phased to displace classes “as little as possible. We don’t want to lose momentum and we don’t want to interrupt services.”

Coun. Steve Kim, chair of the city’s cultural services advisory committee and a former Place des Arts board member, said having arts and heritage programs stay in Maillardville is important for the neighbourhood, especially as it marks its 110th anniversary this year as a French-Canadian enclave.

As well, “It’ll be great to have all the services in one building,” he said, noting he expects the planned facility to be up within five years “if not sooner.”

Place des Arts board president Barb Hobson said her group looks forward to seeing the architects’ renderings. “Place des Arts began and has flourished on the current site, and we are encouraged to see that the report recommends remaining here,” she said.

And Candrina Bailey, Coquitlam Heritage’s executive director, added the society appreciates council and city staff’s “recognition of the limitations of the current facility. The new heritage space will allow the stories of all Coquitlam residents to be celebrated and preserved.” 

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