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Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?

Paving paths is a problem for some on Coquitlam city council when it comes to the loop around Lafarge Lake in Town Centre Park

Is Lafarge Lake a natural oasis or the centrepiece of a bustling urban park?

That is a question Coquitlam council is grappling with as the city launches its lake loop improvement process, which will widen and pave paths, and add bridge connections over an island at the north end of the lake in Town Centre Park.

But some at the council table were apprehensive about the changes being proposed.

"I think it is popular to different people for different reasons," Coun. Craig Hodge said of the trail around the lake.

"Yes, there are a lot of people using the trails, but do we want to turn it into a lot of paved bike paths and lose that experience? Are we going to make it look too urban?"

Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?_3
A map of the four areas — urban walk, island walk, garden walk and forest — that the city is looking at upgrading as part of its lake loop enhancement project.

He acknowledged that there are some accessibility issues, particularly at the southern portion of the lake, where the path is more forested and there are gravel trails.

But he added that people like the experience of stepping of the asphalt pathways and walking through the woods.

Hodge also had issues with the island walk portion of the proposed enhanced loop.

In a report to council, staff called the treed portion at the north end of the lake a "unique and under-utilized landform." The plans calls for creating a bridge connection to access the island, which would have a plaza taking advantage of views oriented toward Coquitlam's City Centre neighbourhood.

Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?_0
A rendering of the forest walk. - CITY OF COQUITLAM

Mayor Richard Stewart said that the north end of the lake around the island is already off limits to the public to protect the natural environment.

"I didn't realize that was where we are heading," he said of the bridge connection plans. "It would seem that the island has some value as an area that public can't get to."

Others supported the direction the lake loop enhancement process is taking.

Coun. Brent Asmundson said Town Centre Park is becoming a destination not just for the city residents but for people throughout Metro Vancouver. Expansion of the trail network is necessary to accommodate the influx of people who are moving to  and visiting the area, he added.

Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?_1
A rendering of the garden walk section of the lake loop enhancement project. - CITY OF COQUITLAM

"This is an urban park," Asmundson said, adding: "Most people go there and they walk around the park. You go by anytime of the day and there is always people around the lake and at peak times it is very busy."

The island walk is not the only enhancement included in the lake loop plans.

Parks staff envision a garden walk section through the southeast portion of the lake, heading north through the Inspiration Garden. The section would include floral display beds and new pedestrian-oriented nodes for seating elements.

The urban walk would parallel Pinetree Way and include a new wharf deck, which will become the main pedestrian node on the west side of the lake.

Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?_2
A rendering of the island walk.

At the south end of Lafarge would be the forest walk, which would have an upgraded asphalt path widened to four metres, with sections of boardwalk. Plans also include extensive tree replacement, woodland plantings and new trails through the forested zones, according to a report.

While a final budget has yet to be approved, the project is not expected to be cheap.

Currently, $4.2 million has been allocated for the implementation of the lake loop enhancements but the staff report noted that construction costs have escalated and could "drive the costs beyond these estimates."

Staff said they will be back before council with a detailed design and budget for the project in the summer. The report to council said once a plan receives final approvals, construction on the lake loop enhancement would likely be done in phases over a two-year period.

Do planned improvements to the loop around Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake go too far?_4
A rendering of the urban walk. - CITY OF COQUITLAM
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