Buchanan Square to be spruced up

Coquitlam to take opportunity to make it more inviting when RCMP roof membrane is replaced

When the leaky roof of the Coquitlam RCMP parkade gets replaced the city wants to spruce up what’s on top of it, too.

The lower level of Buchanan Square, which sits between the cop shop and city hall, doubles as the roof of the RCMP parkade. When it was built in 1996 a single-ply modified rubber asphalt membrane was installed over the parkade’s concrete roof. The membrane was expected to remain waterproof for 15 to 20 years. There have been numerous leaks that have needed repair in the last five years, according to a city staff report, and the leaking is so extensive is some areas many stalls are unusable and it has to be replaced.

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While it’s being replaced, the city wants to take advantage of the situation by making the square more inviting.

“Generally, today the design of the existing Buchanan Square does not function well as a welcoming, people-oriented, public space that creates a unique sense of place and facilitates good access to the buildings,” said the report.

In addition to the $2.5 million cost of the replacement, — a budget of $2 million was approved in 2016 with one third to be paid by Port Coquitlam — the report suggests enhancing the lower square with benches, picnic tables, timber seat steps and a grass lawn to the centre to make it more inviting and functional which would cost $500,000. 

Buchanan Square upper
The upper level of Buchanan Square between city hall and the Coquitlam RCMP building. - Grant Granger/The Tri-City News

For another half million bucks both the upper and lower levels could be enhanced to create a single, multi-level plaza. “The upper plaza is currently disconnected from the lower space and is largely unused most of the time,” said the report. 

If council goes for an upgrade, the staff also proposed a $75,000 misting feature based on the Coquitlam ‘Q’ brand be added.

“There was a potential do something that’s fun and playful that’s iconic,”  said Andre Isakov, Coquitlam’s manager, park planning and design.

The report received a generally positive response on Monday (Feb. 4) when it was presented to council, which voted to explore the enhancement options for both levels, although they nixed the grass area, and some weren’t sold on the misting feature either.

Some councillors had their doubts about any demand for gussying up Buchanan Square, although Coun. Dennis Marsden was the only one to vote against proceeding further. He said the city should just stick to repairing the roof.

“I just look at this and go I haven’t heard the demand,” said Marsden. “Let’s keep it simple this time around and then go from there.”

The upgrades open up the possibility of shutting down Burlington Avenue to connect to the more heavily used Spirit Square across the street for special events.

“I would support something really robust if I knew a good chunk of our staff and the RCMP staff would use it,” said Coun. Chris Wilson.  “I have a hard time seeing a lot of our community using it in addition to Spirit Square. I want to make sure it’s going to get used the way we envision it being used.”

Coun. Bonita Zarrillo, however, thought the square could be the perfect place for the Christmas market and other community events.

“I think we should activate it as much as we can,” said Zarrillo.

Misting Q
Drawing of a proposed water mister built in the form of Coquitlam's Q brand that would be placed in front of Buchanan Square between city hall and the RCMP building. - City of Coquitlam report

Some councillors noted the irony of a ‘water feature’ being proposed since the city had to nix a planned waterfall and pool at Buchanan Square with a river running across to Spirit Square as part of a renovation for that area because the roof wouldn’t hold it. But staff pointed out the misting usually evaporates and the Q would be built on the boulevard and not the roof.


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