A new hotel, convention centre, entertainment hub, business district and elementary school are on the horizon for City Centre in Coquitlam.
And, next Monday, residents will be able to have their say in the draft City Centre Area Plan (CCAP) update when it goes to a public hearing.
Last month, city council unanimously gave first reading to the blueprint that lays out how City Centre will transition over the next 25 years, with an additional 24,000 people calling the neighbourhood home.
The vision — a total of 1,789 acres between David Avenue to the north, the Port Moody-Coquitlam border to the west, Coquitlam River and Port Coquitlam to the east and the CP Rail tracks to the south — aims to push City Centre from a suburban zone to an urban downtown that will bring in more people and jobs to meet the regional demand.
Started in late 2017, the update offers a high-level framework to chart residential, commercial and industrial development, and public investment. If adopted, it will replace the 2008 City Centre Area Plan.
But the renewed growth plan comes with a hefty price tag, staff say.
Under the companion City Centre Servicing Assessment Plan, which has yet to go before council for consideration, a total of $727 million will be needed in capital costs, of which the city plans to pay $480 million through development cost charges (DCC). The balance is expected to be funded through other sources such as private-sector development, city capital reserves, borrowing and community amenity costs (CAC).
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, whose municipality borders City Centre on the west, said Coquitlam wants to position the area to be on par with such urban areas as MetroTown and Brentwood, in Burnaby.
He’ll be ensuring Coquitlam has its infrastructure in place to handle the extra services and traffic; PoCo has its eye on the Westwood triangle, where it’s considering higher-density residential and commercial units.
“Obviously, there will be an impact on us,” West told the Tri-City News on Monday, adding, “their infrastructure needs to keep pace.”
There are five overarching features to the draft CCAP update:
• creating a vibrant downtown core, with growth around the Evergreen Line stations (Coquitlam Central, Lincoln and Lafarge Lake-Douglas);
• establishing a strong employment base, by increasing the amount of floor space for businesses and building more towers for office use;
• providing a family-friendly downtown, offering housing, services and amenities for all ages, child care facilities and a new elementary school;
• improving recreation and cultural services, with more green space and places to gather;
• and linking City Centre with other northeast neighbourhoods, with more walking and cycling routes to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
On the recreation front, the city plans to acquire another 17.8 acres in City Centre for parks as well as renovate, expand or replace the City Centre Aquatic Centre (CCAC). The existing facility could include indoor and outdoor aquatics and an arena, according to the report. New rec facilities are also proposed for a site near Glen Park.
And as for the cultural side, a new urban park is set be created near the Lincoln SkyTrain station in what’s being dubbed as the “Cultural Heart” of City Centre. The Entertainment District could include a new library (replacing the Henderson Centre facility); a theatre; rehearsal and performance venues; and a bigger space for the city archives.
City staff are also proposing a new land-use designation called Business Enterprise — should the CCAP update be adopted — that will be concentrated along the Barnet/Lougheed Highway corridor, and on Christmas Way, for future industrial, research and development, production, distribution, repair uses, and office and commercial uses such as eateries and microbreweries. That Pinetree-Lougheed precinct is also where the city intends to place a hotel/conference centre.
Still, staff also intend to limit the height of high-rises in City Centre to 25 storeys, and six storeys for medium-density apartment buildings.
In his report to council, planning GM Jim McIntyre wrote that City Centre business owners will likely feel a financial pinch once the plan is OK’d: Property values will be higher — similar to when council approved the Burquitlam-Lougheed Neighbourhood Plan and the Austin Heights update — and taxes will subsequently rise, he warned council.
“Staff will be reviewing various strategies to assist small businesses and commercial tenants under triple-net leases that are impacted by increased property values as a result of potential development,” McIntyre wrote, noting successful property assessment appeals may affect the city budget next year.
Coun. Bonita Zarrillo called on Coquitlam residents to have their voice heard at the virtual public hearing. She’s concerned there won’t be a big turn out because of the pandemic.
But McIntyre said residents and business owners have been consulted regularly over the past two years through email notifications, stakeholder outreach, social media and print announcements and pop-up kiosks at SkyTrain stations.
“This was our most ambitious engagement on an area planning process,” Genevieve Bucher, community planning manager, told the Tri-City News on Monday. “The insight and experience of key stakeholders and the public is directly reflected in the draft CCAP direction and policies to ensure the plan is an accurate reflection of community interests.”
• To have your say at the virtual public hearing for the City Centre Area Plan Update on Nov. 16, call 604-927-3010 or visit coquitlam.ca/publichearing to register.