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Headlines from the past: Coquitlam debates the size of proposed new theatre

Consultants recommended either a 250-seat venue or a larger facility with 600 seats.
Designer Tom Weeks discusses his plans for a new Coquitlam Arts Centre with former city councillor Walter Ohirko and another resident.

Stories from Tri-City News headlines of decades past is a recurring feature as the publication marks its 40th anniversary in 2024.

Thirty years ago, there was little debate Coquitlam needed a new arts centre.

The big question, though, was how large should the theatre be in a facility proposed for the south end of Town Centre Park.

Of seven possibilities presented by consultants hired by the city, two recommendations envisioned a smaller studio theatre with rehearsal space, workshops, a gallery and restaurant, while another suggested a larger 600-seat venue.

Attendees at an open house mostly favoured the larger option.

“We’re a big city now,” said one.

Another suggested the planned Coquitlam facility could serve as a regional arts hub that would attract arts lovers from across the Tri-Cities.

“The three municipalities should get together on this and do a good job, not a half-puff job.”

Others said the theatre’s size doesn’t matter, as long as the arts centre gets built.

The project’s designer, however, was dismayed that so much attention was being paid to the theatre while other aspects of his concept, like its rehearsal and workshop spaces, were overlooked.

The Tri-City News has covered civic affairs, local crime, festivals, events, personalities, sports and arts in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody since 1983. Bound back issues of the paper are available at the Coquitlam Archives, while digital versions of several past years can be found at