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Parking crunch around PoCo community centre continues

Doc disappointed with drivers; relief is two years away
doctor
Dr. Stephen Barron of the Wilson Centre Family Practice, located across the street from the new Port Coquitlam community centre, says visitors to the recreation facility are taking up his clinic’s private parking lot and preventing patients — especially seniors — from accessing medical services.

Dr. Stephen Barron has had enough of the complaints.

Ever since the first phase of the new Port Coquitlam community centre (PCCC) opened in August, Barron said, the private parking lot at the medical centre where he works is jammed with recreation complex users or parents dropping their kids off for practices and games.

The 15 physicians at the Wilson Centre Family Practice, located across the street from the PCCC, often can’t find space to park their vehicles and neither can their patients, many of whom are seniors and/or disabled. And when staff confront the violators about the parking lot rules, drivers typically shrug their shoulders.

“It’s disrespectful,” Barron said.

The parking crunch around the $132-million rec centre update has been a sore point for downtown residents and businesses since construction started two years ago, with tradespeople taking up most of the street parking along Kingsway and Wilson avenues and Mary Hill road, and the parking lots near Wilson and Shaughnessy Street.

The issue is the PCCC underground parkade — and its 500 parking spots — won’t be ready for another two years, when Ventana Construction finishes Phase 2 of the rebuild.

“The city’s priority has been to keep existing amenities open during the phased construction of the Port Coquitlam community centre,” said Pardeep Purewal, PoCo’s communications manager. “It would not have been possible to build the size of the parkade first and keep the old facilities operational until the opening of the amenities in Phase 1 were completed.”

The city has taken a number of steps to address the parking challenges, she said, noting a three-hour parking limit at the rec complex and better directional signage in front of the parking lot along Wilson.

Purewal said city managers are also working with TransLink to secure evening and weekend parking in the West Coast Express parking lot on Kingsway Avenue.

Jennifer McKinnon, executive director of the Downtown PoCo Business Improvement Association, which represents more than 300 businesses, called the parking pinch a “temporary sacrifice” given the revitalization that’s underway in the core.

“It’s an important time to be on the same page as we all want what’s best for our community,” McKinnon told The Tri-City News, adding, “Although patience is critical at this time, I am confident that my businesses will benefit and prosper from the progressive direction of our downtown community.”

As for the families in the Port Coquitlam Minor Hockey association, president Kim Egli said players and visiting teams are coping with the parking squeeze around the new community centre. “Everyone has been very understanding about the lack of parking and realizes that, in the end, we will have plenty of parking when the PCCC is complete,” Egli said.

Meanwhile, the city suggests visitors walk, cycle, take public transit or carpool to reach PCCC.

Besides the underground parkade, the amenities in the centre’s Phase 2 will include a third arena with spectator seating for 780, a gymnasium, children’s area, more multi-purpose spaces, a café, outdoor plazas and sport courts.

For questions about the PCCC construction, visit portcoquitlam.ca/pccc or email recreation@portcoquitlam.ca. Alternatively, call 604-927-7529 (for programs) or 604-927-5420 (for the project). 

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