With its booming economy and seemingly never-ending construction, Coquitlam will see plenty of change in 2022 as it continues to grow and meet Metro Vancouver targets — especially for housing.
That in mind, here are 10 topics the Tri-City News is set to follow closely as the city grapples with Year Three of the COVID-19 pandemic (in no particular order):
1. Coquitlam Water Main Project - Robson to Guildford section
Metro Vancouver will be ripping up a part of Pipeline Road in the City Centre neighbourhood for a new 3.2-metre water main. In the fall, the regional agency called for comments and, according to a mail-out in December, the public voiced concerns about potential traffic delays, as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety; construction noise, vibration and dust; air quality from truck idling; tree loss; and driveway access for area residents. Metro Vancouver officials told city council that a community liaison will be available from Monday to Friday to respond to residents and businesses’ questions (604-432-6200) throughout the construction, which will last until 2029 once built from Cape Horn to the top of Pipeline Road.
2. Civic election 2022
There’s been no word from city hall about a byelection to replace the seat left vacant by Bonita Zarrillo (who bumped Conservative MP Nelly Shin in Port Moody-Coquitlam in last fall’s federal election). However, Coquitlam voters will still head to the polls on Oct. 15 to elect a new council, as well as Coquitlam board of education trustees. For residents seeking to run for public office, council in November adopted an Election Administration and Procedures Bylaw that tightens the rules. Among them, candidates will need to have 10 nominators and election signs can’t be more than two metres tall.
3. Opening of recreation centres
After years of construction, Coquitlam expects to see two recreation centres open: the Burquitlam YMCA and Place Maillardville Community Centre. For the latter building, its renewal into a 22,000 sq-ft. space — scheduled to open in the fall of 2022 — will include a public plaza and park across from Our Lady of Lourdes Church, as well as seniors housing via a city partnership. And for the YMCA, the 55,000 sq-ft. building — named the Bettie Allard YMCA — is also slated to open in the fall at the Burquitlam Plaza mall; it will include a five-lane lap tank, a teaching and fitness pool, a gym, multi-purpose rooms and childminding. Meanwhile, Coquitlam will also dig into its plans for the Northeast Community Centre on Burke Mountain, an 80,000 sq-ft. building that will cost $115 million. A survey on the hub’s layout is open until Jan. 14 via letstalkcoquitlam.ca/necc.
4. Property tax appeals
Coquitlam city hall’s pressure to reform BC Assessment will continue this year, especially as it doles out millions of dollars in property tax refunds. The successful appeals cost Coquitlam $820,000 in 2019, rising to $1.8 million in 2020 and $2.4 million in 2021, resulting in an additional $1 million earmarked in the 2022 budget to cushion the reserve for more returns.
5. Economic development strategy
With massive growth comes the need to retool the city’s economic development plan, which is now more than a dozen years old. Andre Isakov, Coquitlam’s manager of economic development, will lead the charge this year, along with a consultant, as Coquitlam refines its road map for business, job creation and other growth sectors such as tourism. The strategy is also designed to give Coquitlam an edge over its bigger city competitors in a post-pandemic world.
6. Widgeon Park
Metro Vancouver is due to open Widgeon Marsh Regional Park — with the City of Coquitlam’s help. This year will see a new $8.5-million road to the green space at the eastern end of Burke Mountain. Paving the 4.5-kilometre stretch of Quarry Road is expected to bring in an influx of visitors from around the region who want to hike, check out the wildlife and view the waterfalls.
7. Fremont Connector
In December, the cities of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam jointly released a statement that — after years of consideration — they reached an agreement on the alignment for the Fremont Connector, an arterial road to connect Burke Mountain to the Mary Hill Bypass and Lougheed Highway. But the $30-million road isn’t the major north-south link that either envisioned as it’s now a two-lane route with some big challenges: On Coquitlam’s side, the road is set to run down the Fremont Street road allowance — over farmland and close to the Sun Valley neighbourhood homes in PoCo — while, on the Port Coquitlam side, the 4.7-kilometre route sticks to a plan from a previous council, with intersections at Lincoln Avenue/Devon Road, Devon/Prairie Avenue and Prairie/Burns Road. Both cities plan public consultation this year with construction due to begin in 2024.
8. Cannabis dispensaries
Jan. 4 to 14 are the 10 days when entrepreneurs can submit applications to the city to set up recreational cannabis retail shops in five neighbourhoods: City Centre, Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville. The new market in Coquitlam follows council’s adoption of the Cannabis Regulatory Framework in December, after Port Coquitlam and Port Moody passed similar bylaws in 2019.
9. Park master plans
Phased-in changes are coming this and next year to two well-loved parks: Blue Mountain and Town Centre. Council is due to consider the master plan and implementation strategy this year, with the final designs to return for public comment that proposes the closure of the wading pool and Scout Hall, and the cenotaph moved to a more open area. As for Town Centre Park, city council last year OK’d improvements to the Urban, Garden and Forest walks to include wider paths, better drainage and more horticultural features.
10. Opening of southern Coquitlam Crunch
The need for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged residents to get outside — and many headed to the hills to get exercise the last two years. In 2022, the expansion of the Coquitlam Crunch, when complete, will run south of Barnet Highway from Dewdney Trunk Road and up the slope to Mariner Way, linking with Dr. Charles Best Secondary and Mundy Park (ultimately, the northern and southern sections will connect via a Falcon Street overpass). The detailed design is now underway, with construction set to begin in August for a December completion, according to a report from parks and rec GM Lanny Englund.