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Looking ahead to 2022, Port Coquitlam mayor sees job growth and a 'balanced' community

Port Coquitlam eyes slower development growth in 2022 but has several of its own capital projects on the books

Port Coquitlam may be the only jurisdiction in the Tri-Cities not dealing with a huge amount of development coming in 2022.

But for Mayor Brad West, that’s just fine.

"We don’t put too many eggs in that basket to begin with," he said in an interview with the Tri-City News.

While Coquitlam is grappling with Burke Mountain growth and neighbourhoods transforming overnight due to the proximity of SkyTrain and Port Moody is contemplating major development proposals, PoCo is expecting to see fewer development proposals this year.

According to the city, revenue forecast from new residential development is expected to drop to $250,000 from $1 million in 2020.

“It’s neither good nor bad, it is just that the city has a limited land base and so once that has been developed it changes the type of development that occurs in the community,” West explained.

Much of the city’s downtown, re-zoned several years ago to permit higher density, has been re-built with new apartments and townhouses and the Dominion Triangle shopping area is almost complete.

West notes that a pause in residential development has benefits in that it gives time for the city's infrastructure to catch up.

Planning for the Fremont Connector to get traffic off of north side streets is one such project while the city is also replacing pumping stations to handle increased water flow and looking at ways to improve traffic flow in the busy Dominion Triangle shopping area.

But the city's move towards "gentle" density, with most new development coming in the form of small lot subdivisions, doesn’t mean there is no new multi-family housing being built in the city.

Some big new affordable housing projects are on the books, including the Alex, an 83-unit non-market housing development at 2117 Prairie Ave slated to open this summer. Other notable affordable housing projects are 63-affordable homes in a five-storey building to be built on Welcher Avenue and a 302-unit affordable rental building under construction on Kingsway Avenue.

But West said building new housing is only part of the equation when it comes to creating a “balanced” city. He points to the number of new businesses moving to the city, including the dairy giant Saputo, and millions of dollars in industrial and retail construction being built in the city in recent years.

In 2021, for example, the city saw $45.5 million worth of industrial construction built in the city, more than all new residential construction combined.

“Port Coquitlam has distinguished itself with respect to its industrial land and resisting the temptation to seeing it converted for other uses, which may put a lot of money in a developer’s pockets but don’t contribute a lot of positive benefits [for residents] that we see in industrial development,” said West.

In addition, he notes, industrial development brings revenue to the city “that helps offset the cost pressures that residential property taxpayers would bear.”

What West is looking forward to in 2022 are the completion or construction of several capital projects, including:

  • McAllister Avenue upgrades in the city’s downtown cost: $3.8 million, official opening slated for spring 2022
  • The Civic Centre Revitalization of Leigh Square, Veterans Square and the Donald Pathway: Cost: approximately $5.8 million and currently in the design phase
  • Prairie Avenue upgrades: Cost $5.3 million, remaining work includes a final lift of paving, and landscaping
  • Numerous neighbourhood rehabilitation projects slated for 2022

As well, West said the city will continue to push for grant funding for a soccer training centre at Gates Park to dove tail with the improvements in the city’s downtown.

“You start connecting the dots all these things coming in a short period of time, I think it just creates a huge amount of interest and excitement in our city.”

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