New Port Coquitlam rec centre to cost $132 million

Property owners are on the hook for the next four years — and beyond.


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Take a deep breath, Port Coquitlam.

Your property bills are guaranteed to go up for the next four years to pay for the city's biggest infrastructure project since the Coast Meridian Overpass.

This week, city council revealed the cost of a new PoCo recreation complex: $132 million.

And it revealed how city hall plans to pay for it:

• Every property owner will be charged $25 for every parcel they own in the city, each year for the next four years.

• Every property owner will also see a combined 2.5% tacked onto their municipal tax bill until 2020 — an average of $110 more per year.

• And after 2020, every property owner will have to shell out $85 a year to pay off the 30-year, $52-million debt that's about to be incurred and to fund the centre's ongoing operations and maintenance.

As well, the city plans to dip into its internal reserves — to the tune of $41.2 million — and sell its four-acre former works yard, behind the rec centre, for $17 million to a developer for new housing (see below). 

Rec centre levies and the $12.5-million federal grant the city received last year — just before the election — will round out the total.

If the price tag is hard to swallow, the city wants you to think about this: The new rec complex will not only have three sheets of ice, a pool, a new seniors' centre and two-storey library, it will also spur a revitalization of the downtown core.

"The redevelopment of the downtown hinges on the new recreation complex," said Susanna Walden, executive director of the Downtown Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association. "I know it comes at a price but it will bring more people into the downtown and new retailers and new restaurants. 

"Businesses will want to locate here and developers will want to build new homes here," she said, "and people purchasing those units will have access to new, top-class amenities right in the heart of our beautiful city. I can't wait."

Mayor Greg Moore said the city has its eye on the future. 

PoCo's current population of 58,000 residents is expected to swell by 10,000 by the time the new rec centre opens in the summer of 2021. A decade after that, PoCo is projected to have 76,000 people.

But according to city documents, PoCo is also anticipating that Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows residents will also flock to the facility. Pitt Meadows, with a population of 20,000 residents, recently dropped its plans for a new pool from its five-year capital agenda.

"We believe that the construction of our community recreation complex will defer, if not eliminate, the need for Pitt Meadows to construct a facility of its own," a PoCo city staff report reads.

(This is not unheard of in the Tri-Cities, where Coquitlam's Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex and City Centre Aquatic Complex are regional draws.)

In addition, PoCo staff are predicting new residents living on Kwikwetlem First Nation lands will also visit the complex regularly.

Plans to replace the aging rec centre, library and Tri-City Transitions office on the 15-acre campus have been in the works for at least three years. It was listed as council's top priority after a facility condition assessment study showed it would be cheaper to build a new facility than to update the current one.

ground floor

Still, at Monday's meeting, council had little to say on the project given its scale and scope — a building that's expected to last for the next 75 years.

Moore talked about the public feedback that helped shape internal discussions to design a community gathering place while Coun. Mike Forrest congratulated city managers for taking heat from council as it deliberated the investment.

Coun. Darrell Penner, chair of the city's healthy community community, offered the most insight about the closed-doors negotiations.

"It's been kind of tough," he told council. "We have spent a lot of hours. All of us kind of went in there saying, 'It's going to do this, it's going to do that.' It's a reflection, I think, of the community and then we kind of came together. We had a lot of conversations — arguments, possibly, you might want to say — but the point being is that we came together to conclude this. I believe what we have here is going to be absolutely fantastic for the community."

Moore told The Tri-City News before the meeting he's not concerned about the city's long-term debt.

Once the $52-million loan is approved by the Municipal Finance Authority, PoCo will have one of the biggest debt loads in B.C. for a municipality of its size (Prince George and Kamloops have higher levels).

Currently, PoCo still owes for the $135-million Coast Meridian Overpass, for which the debt is due to be retired in 2039. As well, the city owes $29 million to its internal land sale reserve, including $10 million for the viaduct.

And for all its bells and whistles, the new rec complex won't have an specific certifications for building green such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or provide energy exchanges like the Thermenex system in Coquitlam.

"The project will incorporate various energy-efficiency initiatives and various design initiatives… and will comply with our environmental conservation development permit guidelines," said Kristen Meersman, PoCo's director of engineering and public works.

There will be other costs, too.

Because the new pool will only be for leisure use, the city will spend $2.5 million to upgrade the outdoor Centennial Pool at Aggie Park for competitions.

As for Wilson Centre, its members will see significant change. While its replacement will be about the same size, its multipurpose rooms will be shared; and Moore said arts and crafts sessions will move over to the under-utilized Leigh Square Community Arts Village.

As for the rinks, two arenas will be kept open — at all times — during the four-year building period. User groups will be notified frequently about the phased construction, Meersman said.

West Coast Express riders will have to find alternate parking in the area, however.

Groundbreaking is set for this spring.




Port Coquitlam's new community rec centre will include:

• accessible leisure pool with sloped entry and three 20 m lanes;

• three ice sheets: one spectator, one participant and one multi-purpose;

• games room, lounge and kitchen with programming for youth and seniors;

• multi-purpose rooms;

• Terry Fox Library;

• café;

• child-minding area;

• fitness centre;

• gymnasium;

• outdoor plaza with seating, sport courts, amphitheatre and spray park;

• sport medicine office;

• and an underground parkade with 450 stalls.



• Spring 2017: ground improvements at the north end, demolition of part of Wilson Centre, relocation of public entrances

• Late spring 2017: construction starts on two ice rinks and library

• Fall 2017: construction starts on aquatic facility, fitness centre, all-ages spaces, kitchen and offices

• Early 2019: completion of first ice rink, demolition of Green Arena begins

• Early spring 2019: construction starts on third ice rink

• Spring 2019: completion of second rink and library

• Summer/early fall 2019: completion of aquatic facility, fitness centre, all-ages spaces, kitchen and offices

• Late summer 2019: construction starts on parkade, large multi-purpose room, gymnasium and child-minding area

• Fall 2020: parkade completed, construction starts on exterior works (e.g. plaza, sport courts)

• Summer 2021: project completed



The $17-million sale of the four-acre former city works yard, behind the community recreation complex, is part of the overall proposal by Ventana — the centre's planners, designers and builders — to Quantum Properties.

The proposal, which is required to go through a rezoning process, is to build five six-storey, wood-frame condo complexes with up to 450 housing units, Mayor Greg Moore said. That would mean 650 to 750 more people would live near the campus.

The city says Quantum has indicated it wants to build three market condo buildings on the lot south of Kelly Avenue, one rental apartment building south of Kelly and adjacent to Mary Hill Road, and one building for seniors north of Kelly and adjacent to Mary Hill.

"The market condominium building would face the Kelly Avenue plaza and may include some live/work units while the seniors’ building will include commercial [café] space on the ground floor," said Laura Lee Richard, PoCo's director of development services. "We will be working with Quantum to determine an appropriate mix of unit sizes within the buildings as part of the development review process."

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