Construction crews are getting ready to break ground on a recreation facility that aims to be the "civic heart" of Burquitlam.
The community centre is part of a package of amenities agreed to in a three-way partnership between the city, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and developer Concert Properties. On top of the 55,000-sq. ft. recreation centre, the project includes a community police station, a park-and-ride lot, more rental housing and an expanded Cottonwood Park.
"After years of planning this innovative and complex project, we're thrilled to soon be seeing shovels in the ground," Mayor Richard Stewart said Monday after council unanimously approved the necessary zoning amendments and a budget for the project. 'This partnership provides substantial benefits to the city, bringing significant new amenities and much greater value than we could have achieved on our own."
The deal struck between the three partners was five years in the making.
As part of the agreement, Coquitlam will provide 1.3 acres of Burquitlam Park to Concert Properties, which will use the land for the construction of a mixed-use development and the new YMCA facility. In exchange, Concert will provide the city with 2.55 acres of land at Whitgift Gardens and $700,000 for the expansion of Cottonwood Park.
The city has budgeted $42 million for its share of the community centre, $5.5 million for the park-and-ride and $4.7 million for the community police station. YMCA will contribute $38 million for the rec facility for a 50% ownership share and will cover ongoing operations and asset replacement over the life of the building. Concert will oversee all of the construction.
"We have shown through partnerships with non profits, community providers, developers, that we can do so much… and those give us greater opportunities than when we just go it alone," said deputy city manager Raul Allueva, who was the general manager of parks and recreation when negotiations began. "We can do incredible things across those boundaries that provide value."
The construction timelines will be tight. Staff said that site prep work will begin immediately, with an official groundbreaking likely taking place early in the new year.
The Cottonwood Park expansion should be completed in spring 2021 while the YMCA rec centre, community police station and park-and-ride are expected to be completed by fall 2022. Construction of the rental housing component of the mixed-use development will be completed in 2023.
"We are going to get on the site very quickly," Allueva said. "The community needs this community centre and we need to get going on this."
Community amenities are not the only benefit the city receives through the joint partnership. More than 1,000 units of purpose-built rental, including 100 units of non-market rental housing, are planned for the site, which a staff report said is a three-to-one replacement.
Stephen Butz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, told The Tri-City News he was "astounded and thrilled" to see Coquitlam council unanimously pass the necessary zoning amendments and budget for the project Monday night. He added that having a headquarters in area will improve the service offerings the organization provides in the Tri-Cities.
"So much goes on here relative to the scope of services that offer," Butz said. "This will be the hub."