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'Ridiculously under-utilized' hub in Coquitlam to get $5M upgrade

Construction on the Innovation Centre in Coquitlam is due to start in the spring of 2023.

First, there was a small ice cream shop.

Then, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce moved in.

A private library came next with local start-ups and small businesses.

And, last year, a temporary fitness centre went in while the City Centre Aquatic Complex was being partially renovated.

Now, the Innovation Centre — the cinder-block building north of Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre that sees more than one million visitors walk by per year — is about to undergo a $5-million update to get it ready for the neighbourhood boom under the City Centre Area Plan.

On Monday (May 16), the city’s council-in-committee looked at the staff proposal to improve the 11,250 sq-ft. space that went up in 1996 and has been "ridiculously under-utilized for a quarter of a century," Coun. Dennis Marsden said.

Currently used by city staff as a worksite, the civic building will be turned into a "community living room," said Lanny Englund, Coquitlam’s general manager of parks, recreation, culture and facilities, where residents can take part in programs and stop in for a bite to eat.

Tiina Mack, manager of parks and facility planning, showed the draft plans for the new building design that will have graphic murals and more lighting on the outside, and for the inside:

  • Upper floor
    • Reception, community living room drop-in space, concession, two multi-purpose rooms (one with a new 980 sq-ft. covered outdoor deck) and flex space
  • Lower floor
    • Small changes to meeting rooms, a new makers’ space (connected to the existing lower outdoor patio), a social gathering space and staff rooms

Marsden said he’d like to see more than just a concession and recommended staff consider a brew pub when calling for vendors this month — a move rebuffed by Coun. Brent Asmundson, who said that type of establishment may not appeal to everyone.

In addition, the renovated Innovation Centre, which is located next to the Lafarge Lake–Douglas SkyTrain station, will open up more space for arts and recreation programs, which are bursting at City Centre civic facilities such as Pinetree Community Centre and Glen Pine Pavilion.

In both those hubs, there are long waitlists to register, Mack said.

She anticipates the renewed Innovation Centre will also be a hot spot for kids’ after-school and summer camps, and to host park events.

As well, if needed, the lakeside building could convert into an emergency shelter.

Asked by Coun. Chris Wilson if the centre could also accommodate homeless people during the day, Mack said the site will be "welcoming and open to all people."

Construction is due to start in the spring of 2023, with an end date set for a year later.