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Coquitlam wants to double the size of this park — but it's going to take a while

Are there enough parks in west Coquitlam? The city is planning a massive new park in the fast-growing Burquitlam neighbourhood. But properties must be acquired to double the park to 11.5 acres from its current size of 5.15 acres.

Cottonwood Park, located at 672 Aspen St., off of Foster Avenue in west Coquitlam, is a crucial public amenity in the Burquitlam neighbourhood, which is in transition as thousands of new residents move into nearby apartments, condos and rental units under construction near the SkyTrain line.

In Vancouver, some critics are worried about the lack of parks along the Broadway SkyTrain line, which will be a dense corridor of housing under the Broadway Plan.

In Coquitlam, the city has been working since 2016 to bring at least one multi-use park to the dense neighbourhood of Burquitlam.

However, the park is only half the size that's needed or planned, and city officials say it could take awhile for the full build out of the 11.5 acre park.

"In order to achieve this, the city must secure additional properties for park expansion, which makes estimating the delivery of specific amenities and definitive timelines challenging," confirmed Doron Fishman, park planning and design manager.

Currently, it's 5.15 acres, after the city did a land swap with a developer.

Plans for Cottonwood Park have been underway since 2017. 

In 2016, the city signed an agreement with Concert Properties, which agreed to build a YMCA facility now nearing completion in conjunction with a mixed-use development on 2.1 acres of the 3.6-acre Burquitlam Park. In exchange for the park land, the developer agreed to give the city the 2.55 acres for the Cottonwood Park expansion. 

Work was completed for the initial park expansion (phase 1A) in the summer of 2019, which included a spray park and washrooms, playground, youth area (small skate park and half basketball court), as well as a picnic shelter and a small parking lot.

Now the second (1B) phase of Cottonwood Park is nearing completion, which will include the sports court, parkour area, ball diamond and playing fields.

"It's looking pretty good so far," said one happy dad watching his children play in the busy playground.

While shade trees are few, the park is full of people, and every piece of the 5.15 acre plot is utilized.

Children are riding bikes and running through jets of water in the water park. Families are picnicking under a shelter while a group of children is singing songs in a tower structure in the playground.

Meanwhile, workers are putting the finishing touches to a new sports court and grass is growing at a natural turf field for softball and super-8 soccer.

Also envisioned is phase 1C, which will include three lit tennis courts immediately north of the parkour and sports courts and a trail connection to Cottonwood Avenue.

The plan is to complete this portion by 2026.

The city's Fishman told the Tri-City News that when properties are acquired for the additional six acres, the plan calls for two additional natural turf sports fields, and expanded picnic areas as well as parking for approximately 80 cars.

"Depending on the rate at which the city’s able to acquire properties to facilitate the future park, the layout of specific amenities may need to be adjusted to meet the community’s needs," Fishman noted, adding: "As with all on-going development in the city, staff will work to maximize benefits to local neighbourhood while minimizing impacts to adjacent residents.

For now, a sign at the park indicates that the park will eventually be 11.5 acres, but for now it's a very intensely-used 5.15 acres, with more to come to meet the growing needs of the rapidly growing neighbourhood.