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Kwikwetlem plans to build

Kwikwetlem First Nation can trace its roots back nearly 9,000 years around the Coquitlam River.

Kwikwetlem First Nation can trace its roots back nearly 9,000 years around the Coquitlam River.

Now, the 82-member band has an eye on the future with the proposed development of housing, warehouses and an aboriginal health campus on 113 acres of its territory in Port Coquitlam.

Its plans will unveiled at an open house hosted by Chief Ron Giesbrecht and his council on Tuesday, May 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gym at Central elementary school (2260 Central Ave., PoCo).

On Monday, PoCo city council unanimously supported the Kwikwetlem's draft land use plans, with Mayor Greg Moore congratulating the newly reelected Giesbrecht for reaching out to the community.

"This is not a requirement of them," Moore said. "We have absolutely zero control in what they do with their land."

Chief Giesbrecht was unavailable for comment on Monday and Tuesday but stated in a press release: "We've been building a greatly improved relationship with the city and the neighbours of IR2 [one of the band's parcels] since I was elected. This dialogue has directly informed our planning process and I think the people of Port Coquitlam are going to like what they see."

According to the documents submitted to the city, the Kwikwetlem proposal calls for:

two housing enclaves: one with the capacity to accommodate 370 low-rise apartment units in the northeast portion of the property, the other for a 70-unit townhouse site in the southwest corner (with occupancy starting in the spring of 2018);

light and general industrial uses (mostly warehouses);

and a 120,000 sq. ft. office building for the First Nation Health Authority (FNHA).

Public trails to connect to the existing Colony Farm regional park pathways are also envisioned.

Access to the site would be from Pitt River Road, with a second road off Shaughnessy Street.

(With the Shaughnessy access proposed, PoCo Coun. Darrell Penner said now is the time for the city and the provincial transportation ministry to start looking at a possible right acceleration lane nearby from Shaughnessy onto the Mary Hill Bypass as that intersection is often tied-up with traffic.)

Project manager Paul LePage, principal of Lepage Associates, told The Tri-City News the Kwikwetlem council hasn't yet determined how the band will pay for the project.

Much of the leasehold land has been filled in over the past four years, which has brought in substantial revenues for the band and has elevated the site above the floodplain.

Environmental, topographical and archaeological work is now underway, as is the federal process for leasing the reserve lands, environmental certifications and detailed engineering studies for roads and servicing.

As for the health office centre, the Kwikwetlem said it plans to submit a bid this fall to the FNHA, a province-wide health authority created in 2013 that's designed to deliver a community-based health care system (FNHA said a request for proposals for its new health centre is underway).

PoCo Coun. Mike Forrest said concerns will be raised in the community about the development and access points but, given the positive outcome from a meeting with Kwikwetlem consultants two months ago, he believes the outstanding issues will be resolved.

"Please, make the time to go and get to the open house," Forrest told the public at Monday's council meeting.


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