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Draft plan out for Partington Creek

The fourth and busiest neighbourhood planned for Burke Mountain shouldn't end up looking like the other three hillside areas, Coquitlam city council said this week.

The fourth and busiest neighbourhood planned for Burke Mountain shouldn't end up looking like the other three hillside areas, Coquitlam city council said this week.

Councillors said the vision for Burke hasn't quite taken shape for the Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek and Smiling Creek neighbourhoods as they have built out.

They cited the narrow streets, lack of parking - on street and at homes - and poor traffic patterns as among their biggest concerns with the mountain development.

Councillors made their views known at Monday's council-in-committee meeting as city managers presented the draft plan for Partington Creek, Burke's last major neighbourhood and one that's expected to be the commercial and recreational hub for the 20,000-plus residents of the area.

Coun. Craig Hodge said he took part in the Burke planning workshops years ago, and the dream for a sustainable, walkable community hasn't panned out, with over-densification and crowded streets, especially as most single-family homes have secondary suites.

And he said many longtime Burke residents, such as himself, are struggling with the growth boom and transition, having to learn about planning policies in short order.

Coun. Mae Reid, a realtor, said the city needs to go back and review its previous plans for Burke Mountain to find out what has worked and what hasn't.

Still, Carl Johannsen, Coquitlam's community planning manager, said the draft plan for Partington - just west of Minnekhada Regional Park - is "a dramatic departure from other neighbourhood plans" on Burke as it's more user friendly and flexible in terms of land use, accommodating more housing options and on-street parking for the 10,000 to 15,000 new residents.

The draft plan, which is expected to go to an open house in February, calls for 75% of Partington homes to be multi-family units and, depending on market conditions, there could be some mid- to high-level towers in the commercial hub, located south of David Avenue.

The draft plan for the 595 acres also calls for up to four new schools - three elementary and one middle - and nine parks over a total of 51.7 acres. They are:

Freemont Park (existing): 36.6 acres;

Star Creek Park: 3.7 acres;

Knoll Park: 2.9 acres;

Pinecone Burke trailhead: 1 acre;

David Avenue Park: 2 acres;

Baycrest Park: 1 acre;

Mitchell Street Park: 1 acre;

Neighbourhood Centre Park: 1.5 acres;

Urban Plaza: 2 acres.

Johannsen said Baycrest and Mitchell Street parks are new to the draft plan while Star Creek, Knoll and David Avenue parks have shifted from previous plans for better geographical positioning (nearly three-quarters of Partington has slopes greater than 10%).

As a result, some private property owners - including one who has been preparing the area with city staff for years as part of a working group - were caught off-guard when the draft document came forward recently, seeing their land converted for parkland.

"It was perhaps an oversight," Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam's general manager of planning and development, told the committee. "We should have given them a call... The plan was being tweaked up to the last minute" to present to council before year end.

City manager Peter Steblin said the property owners affected by a potential land-use change will get "fair market value," based on residential zoning, when they're ready to sell.

Johannsen later told The Tri-City News that private property holders who may be in conflict will be personally contacted in the future, and invited to the open house.

The city is a major landowner in Partington, holding 25% of the area - most of which will be eventually sold, said Perry Staniscia, Coquitlam's manager of lands and properties.

Meanwhile, Johannsen said the city is waiting for an application from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, which wants to develop its 36-acre site on Partington for a retreat centre, cemetery, church and elementary school at 3655 Crouch Ave., on the northeast side.

As well, BC Hydro has requested Coquitlam set aside four to five acres in Partington for a sub-station to meet future power demands on Burke, Johannsen said.

City council is expected to adopt the Partington Creek neighbourhood plan this spring; a master land-use plan for the commercial core as well as a servicing and civic facilities strategy are expected to follow.

Last year, the city got approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to proceed with its $30-million Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) for Partington, which had been holding up the neighbourhood planning process for at least a year.

The city and fisheries officials had a number of differences with the Partington Creek IWMP - in particular, federal biologists didn't want to see the Star Creek tributary system affected anymore, with the loss of its headwater streams. As a result, city staff shifted the entire 18-acre neighbourhood centre to the west.