A bid for a master-planned community to replace Burquitlam Plaza is expected come before Coquitlam city council in the next few months.
Morguard Investment Ltd. is proposing to build six towers with 2,200 units for about 5,000 residents — plus retail and child care spaces — east of the Burquitlam SkyTrain station at 552 Clarke Rd., and 550 and 566 Emerson St.
If approved, the development would roll out in two phases:
- Phase 1
- three towers ranging in height from 28 to 43 storeys, with 1,039 rental suites and 28,195 sq. ft. of commercial space
- Phase 2
- three towers ranging in height from 33 to 53 storeys, with 1,173 units and 56,347 sq. ft. of commercial space
On Monday (Jan. 30), the proposed project came before council-in-committee for an update — about a week after the YMCA opened its facility next to Burquitlam Plaza.
And it comes as Concert Properties builds its towers next to the Morguard property and the City of Coquitlam builds a park and ride, as well as a new community police station, to create the new "Heart of Burquitlam."
Designed by James Cheng of James Cheng Architects, the Morguard master plan hasn’t changed substantially since it was introduced in the fall of 2021, the committee heard.
In total, it would bring in $80 million to the municipality in development cost charges, density bonus payments, community amenity contributions plus cash from the sale of two city-owned lots, according to a report from Andrew Merrill, Coquitlam’s director of development services.
"The owners of this property believe in this project," said Morguard’s Geoff Nagle, noting the purpose-built rental buildings will be in high demand due to their proximity to public transit.
"Our ask of council is that, after two-and-a-half years of engagement, we would request that you direct staff to move to first [rezoning] reading in the next couple of months."
More rentals needed
But while some councillors praised Morguard for adding rental stock in the city, others pressed the company for more affordable living in the busy area.
Newly elected councillors Matt Djonlic and Robert Mazzarolo urged Morguard to work with senior levels of government to build non-market units — that is, housing that's owned or controlled by a government or non-profit entity and rented out to tenants in financial need.
And Mazzarolo lobbied Morguard to accommodate Coquitlam families by arranging bigger suites and more child care in the redesigned neighbourhood.
Mazzarolo cited the Housing Needs Report that came before the committee on Jan. 16, showing demographic data from the 2021 census.
According to the report, there’s a "significant need for affordable family-sized housing units" in Coquitlam.
In 2021, the most common household in the city was made up of three people or more — about 45 per cent of the housing stock; by comparison, one-person households accounted for 23 per cent and two-person households were at 32 per cent.
As well, there's been an upward trend in renting, the report states. In 2006, 25 per cent of Coquitlam residents rented compared with about 31 per cent today while home ownership declined from 75 per cent to 69 per cent.
In response, Nagle told the committee that "economics are tight" and constructing more rental units would be challenging. He also said no government agency has come forward to offer financial assistance with the Burquitlam proposal.
"I'd be happy to make the introduction," Coun. Trish Mandewo quipped.
Morguard is not the only company planning a master-planned community in Coquitlam:
- Marcon Quadreal is now clearing the land at the southeastern corner of Barnet/Lougheed highways and Pinetree Way for TriCity Central that will include six market condo towers, two purpose-built rental towers and a 27-storey office and hotel high-rise.
- Polygon Homes got first reading on Jan. 16 for Coronation Heights, a development on a former elementary school site and next to the proposed Coronation Park project by Wesgroup, in Port Moody, where another 5,000 residents are expected to move in. The public hearing for Coronation Heights is Feb. 27 at Coquitlam City Hall. To register to speak, visit coquitlam.ca/publichearing.