Skip to content

New downtown apartment, shopping, plaza to kick-start Port Coquitlam: city

The plan, which goes to a final vote at the end of the month, would see a new walking-friendly downtown, where a central plaza and bike lanes weave through a vibrant commercial space of shops and cafes.

A sleepy street of small shops, a bowling alley, city hall and a museum in Port Coquitlam’s downtown could one day host a vibrant cafe scene with shops and patios spilling out onto a leafy plaza.

But will there be parking?

After a final council vote July 28, Quarry Rock Developments will construct a five-storey building with 63 apartments and commercial space on a city parking lot and an empty commercial lot at 2241 and 2251 McAllister Avenue.

Mayor Brad West sees the project as the kick-start to the city’s downtown revitalization plans.

The plan envisions a plaza, an extension of the Donald Pathway, lots of bike and pedestrian traffic, and possibly a bowling alley in the commercial part of the development, which the city will manage.

“There will be places to sit [and it will be] sort of a welcoming and inviting area with commercial activity around it. I think it will become a real hub for the city and it’s sort of in line with what you see in many other cities around the world, where these ideas of having public squares is quite common.”

McAllister Avenue project
The McAllister Avenue development will provide for a large public plaza on the south west corner of the site, as well as an extension of the Donald Pathway on the west side of the site, as shown roughly in the following drawings. The specific details for the plaza and the path are still in the early design stage, and are being coordinated with the reconstruction of McAllister Avenue, as well as the extension of the Donald Pathway from Wilson Avenue through to McAllister, both of which are scheduled for construction in 2021. - City of Port Coquitlam

But will the new development with its promise of a walkable street make up for the loss of city parking?

While 92 underground parking stalls will be provided for residents, plans permit 39 fewer commercial parking spots than would normally be the case in this type of project because of a variance, according to the city, and 45 spots in the city lot will go, too.

However, West said the city has a vision of a more pedestrian-friendly downtown and will be constructing a parking garage for people driving from other neighbourhoods.

The long-planned parking garage, to which the developer is contributing $680,000 in fees in lieu of parking, will go a long way to making up for the loss. West said. As well, the city is trying to encourage more pedestrian and cycling traffic, which the extension of the Donald Pathway will promote.

Currently, the city has approximately $2.5 million available in its parking reserve, however parkade stalls can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $55,000 per stall to construct. 

“One of the constraints of having new projects is you only have so much land, “ West said, noting that the city is “actively engaged” in discussing plans for a parkade.

Besides the loss in parking, the project has faced another controversy, with the result that Coun. Laura Dupont is facing censure and sanctions related to the removal of a large cedar tree on the property.

She had tried to raise concerns about the tree with the PoCo Heritage Trees group but the city maintains that a meeting and two emails forwarded to members of the public were confidential and part of ongoing discussions about the project that were not open to the public.

Dupont, who will hear next week whether her sanctions will be postponed until a Supreme Court hearing in September, declined to comment on her vote Tuesday in support of the project.

However, West maintains the sensitivity of parking, the importance of financial contributions and other matters central to the project are the reasons the emails and meeting were sensitive and part of closed discussions.

Meanwhile, local businesses are also paying attention to the McAllister development and parking, too.

The executive assistant of the Downtown Port Coquitlam BIA told the Tri-City News that local businesses welcome the McAllister development because it will bring more residents and shoppers to the area and create a focal point for the downtown.

But Jennifer McKinnon said they are also concerned about the impact of construction on parking and where their customers will park.

However, she said her group will advocate for them and work with the city to obtain a parking map that businesses can use to inform their customers.

“When construction starts, we will have parking options for them,” she said.