Mix of old and new gets a tentative OK in Coquitlam

Council votes 5-4 for development despite parking, traffic concerns

A proposed residential development that would blend a 94-year-old heritage home with 14 new townhouse units was narrowly given tentative approval Monday by Coquitlam council following a public hearing.

The project would see the Hutchinson House, currently located at Rochester Avenue, moved to a property on Casey Street, where it would receive a heritage designation protecting it from future demolition. If the home were to stay at its current location, staff said it was expected to be knocked down in the new year.

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Several residents complained that the project, which is being coordinated by Pattison Architecture, is too large for the neighbourhood and would increase traffic and parking problems on nearby streets.

“I think it is too much density,” said Coun. Mae Reid, echoing several comments made by speakers during the public hearing. “This is an old, very vulnerable part of our community and we have to be a little more sensitive about the infill.”

But not enough councillors were swayed by the pleas from neighbours to shoot down the project. Those who supported the initiative said it is important for the city to do as much as it can to save old buildings and heritage properties.

“We need to weigh out the fact that we’ve got an old house that we have an opportunity to preserve,” said Coun. Dennis Marsden, noting that an inventory conducted by the city in 1986 listed 75 properties with heritage value — a number that has since dwindled to 33. 

“I suggest that if this does not move forward… we will only have 32,” he added.

A staff report said the Hutchinson House is historically significant because it shows the agricultural character that existed on the outskirts of Maillardville in the early 1900s.

Council voted 5-4 in favour of the project, with councillors Reid, Teri Towner, Chris Wilson and Bonita Zarrillo opposed.

The Casey Street property was not the only proposal before council Monday that would see new residential construction mixed with a heritage home. 

A 100-year-old structure on Blue Mountain Street known as the Irwin House is expected to get an upgrade, two new neighbours and a heritage revitalization agreement protecting it from future demolition after council unanimously approved a proposal Monday evening.

The property, also being handled by Pattison Architecture, has been the home of several prominent Coquitlam residents, including pioneer William Austin and former aldermen Robert Hawthorne and George Gray. Throughout its history, the 10,000 sq. ft. property was used for farming, beekeeping, fruit and hay production as well as for keeping horses and raising poultry.

Architect Eric Pattison said features like the original chimneys, large decks and detailed craftsmanship would be restored and the new homes on the property would follow a similar design. 

“Those are wonderful things we look for and really enjoy restoring,” he said.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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