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Coquitlam neighbourhood is changing before this realtor's eyes

Ten years ago, a Coquitlam realtor made a video to sell a 1960s era single family home with a big backyard. Now, the same lot, plus five more, will soon have almost 100 homes.

Real estate in southwest Coquitlam is busy, with several new housing projects under construction, newly built or for sale.

But the changes that are being wrought on older neighbourhoods are stunning to see, with new condo developments side by side with single family homes even as Cottonwood Park is being expanded and a new YMCA is close to opening.

One realtor who knows the area well is Leo Bruneau, who grew up in a home on Delestre Avenue, went to school in the area and is raising a family with his wife on Alderson Avenue, just a few blocks from his childhood home.

"I live in the hood," said Bruneau, who purchased his first property when he was in high school, which inspired him to become a realtor.

Bruneau has toned down the colour of his suits since his early days, but is still a passionate defender of his neighbourhood.

"I’m all for change because the world is moving. I'm proactive for change; I’ve no problem with that."

However, Bruneau said the transition can be difficult on the neighbourhood, where sidewalks gleam outside new condo developments, but disappear beside older homes waiting for the next land assembly.

Neighbourhood in transition

On Gauthier Avenue, children walking to Alderson Elementary have to negotiate broken up sidewalks outside new construction.

"The sidewalk basically stops, they landlocked these houses," Bruneau says.

He fears the loss of a sense of community as the area goes through transition from older single family homes to a multi-family neighbourhood.

A decade ago, Bruneau sold a home at 708 Edgar Ave., where a new development with 97 units is under construction.

At the time, the home was a charming, 1960s' era, four bedroom with a huge backyard.

Bruneau made a video of a home in a bid to sell it.

Wearing a bright red suit, Bruneau fanned a deck of cards and asked people if they wanted a "sure bet" they should buy the home with the potential for a basement suite.

Today, at the same 708 Edgar Ave. address is the Allison, which is under construction on a slope just off Lougheed Highway, about a 20-minute walk to the Lougheed SkyTrain Station.

Homes for Coquitlam residents

With 97 units in four-storey buildings on six lots, the Allison is Mosaic Homes' latest addition to the city, where the company has built several condominiums, including the Foster, the Emerson and the Georgia in Burquitlam.

Geoff Duyker, senior vice-president of marketing at Mosaic Homes, said, while the Allison might be replacing six lots, the near 100 units are an important addition to the community, especially for people who already live in the area.

"We're providing an option to residents of the neighbourhood to stay in their neighbourhood in housing that didn't historically exist there," Duyker told the Tri-City News.

In fact, he said local buyers have been snapping up units at the Allison, where 60 of 97 units have already sold, as well as other Mosaic developments.

"This is our fourth project we've sold in Coquitlam — after Emerson, Georgia and Foster — and we’ve seen in all of them the predominant buyer has been someone with an historical tie to the neighbourhood."

According to the company, the Allison is only a year away from completion, with homes ranging from 538 to 1206 sq. ft. and move-ins starting in late 2023.

'Blessed to live in the area'

Designed by WA Architects, the Allison will feature white-brick architecture exterior and 10-foot tall ceilings inside each home.

Duyker said one-bedroom homes offered for sale in the mid-$500,000s are selling well, as are two-bedroom homes with views.

Bruneau, meanwhile, says he isn't against development, such as the Allison, and adds he's "blessed to live in the area," agreeing more homes are needed for young families.

But he worries about people who have lived in the neighbourhood for a long time, such as his mother, who has struggled with walking on uneven sidewalks in the area and fears infrastructure, such as water and sewer pipes, will be inadequate for the growth in population.

"You're going to have some problems," he said.

He's also worried that the new homes still won't be affordable despite the increase in density.

For Mosaic, the city is responsible for basic infrastructure and Duyker said developers contribute fees towards schools, pipes, roads and sidewalks.

He also thinks the City of Coquitlam is on the right track in welcoming development.

"Kudos to Coquitlam for helping accommodate regional growth and also in these neighbourhoods allowing development that facilitates evolving community and for people to stay or return to the community that otherwise wouldn’t."