Coquitlam’s waterfront plan

 

Looking across Como Creek to the proposed site of the Coquitlam waterfront village. The hillside in the left background is New Westminster.

Looking across Como Creek to the proposed site of the Coquitlam waterfront village. The hillside in the left background is New Westminster.

As it stretches along the south side of Highway 1, much of Coquitlam’s United Boulevard is zoned “Highway Retail Industrial.”

Furniture reducedThis loose designation has enabled the development of a sprawling big-box retail precinct. A City handout counts 18 large-scale furniture stores along United Boulevard, blending into the warehouse and fabricating shop uses that extend down to the Fraser River. [This document was taken out of circulation; as of 2016, the City website referred to a “multitude” of stores.] Continue reading

Port Moody’s shrinking, growing plan

There Goes the Neighbourhood: Under the Port Moody plan, a four-block section of this laneway (Spring Street) would become a pedestrian thoroughfare in a high-density housing zone.

There goes the neighbourhood: under the Port Moody plan, a four-block section of this laneway (Spring Street) would become a pedestrian thoroughfare in a high-density housing zone.

Port Moody City Council is curbing its appetite for urban growth after the introduction last year of a bold plan to prepare for the opening of rapid transit.

This matters because Port Moody has taken an innovative approach to substance and process during its current planning cycle, and the choices made in this Metro Vancouver city will affect choices that are made elsewhere in British Columbia. Continue reading

Port Moody plans transformation to greet Evergreen Line

A concept view of the future approach to the Clarke Road/Barnet Highway intersection, arriving from Vancouver on the Barnet. From the City of Port Moody draft OCP, March 2013

A concept view of the future approach to the Clarke Road/Barnet Highway intersection, arriving from Vancouver on the Barnet. From the City of Port Moody draft OCP, March 2013

The City of Port Moody, a part of Metro Vancouver, has unveiled a draft Official Community Plan that would enable densification or superdensification along the new Evergreen rapid transit line, on track for completion in 2016.

The updated Community Plan, commissioned by City Council in early 2012, shows that Port Moody’s population grew from 18,000 in 1991 to 34,000 in 2011. Part of that growth anticipated the arrival of rapid transit with the creation of a pair of trendyish tower-dominated neighbourhoods, NewPort Village and its clone. The TriCity News reports  that the proposed planning changes could help push the local population to 60,000. The paper’s un-named reporter appears to support the plan. Continue reading

Renovating Austin Heights

The City of Coquitlam, which has a current population of about 130,000, was a Angle parking in the key pedestrian block of Austin Avenue, Coquitlamsuperstar of sprawl in the 1970s and 80s.  The City government has  changed course in its more recent neighbourhood plans.  The Austin Heights plan, dated April 2011, would see 5,000 additional residents housed  between Blue Mountain and Linton streets.

“Coun. Doug Macdonell, who grew up in Austin Heights and attended Austin Heights elementary, said the area needs to be modernized. ‘It’s come to a time now where it’s pretty tired,’ he said, adding, ‘We need the density to rehabilitate this area and make it a thriving community again.’ (Tri-City News.) Continue reading

Port Coquitlam — working the plan

The cover of Port Coquitlam's 1998 downtown plan

Measured by its regional media profile, Port Coquitlam is a city that most people ignore.  There’s not really a port here, as I mentioned in an earlier post; there are railyards, trucking companies, a jail, and a recent proliferation of big box stores on the eastern fringe.

Apartment housing near the Coquitlam River, Port CoquitlamUp close, though, the local government has done a decent job of delivering on its 1998 plan [no longer available online] to build an urban village around the downtown core.  The plan is more detailed than most of its counterparts around the region, and more focused on the value of village residential development. Continue reading

NewPort Village and its clone

Port Moody’s NewPort Village is evidence of a substantial market for high-density living in the suburbs of B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Bosa, the project developer, opened NewPort’s first mixed-use  buildings about 1997, squeezing them against the butt end of an existing shopping centre.  The owners of the Heritage Mountain plaza clearly refused to play ball with Bosa; but NewPort’s Whistler-style streetscape,  complete with cute upmarket shops, proved popular with consumers and home buyers from the start.  Within a few years the village was ringed with apartment towers. Continue reading

The Evergreen Line and the future of Skytrain

During the recent panic around transportation funding in Metro Vancouver, the authorities assured us that construction of the long-awaited Evergreen rapid transit line will proceed.  Preliminary work — street widenings, electrical ducts — is now underway, and a contractor is to be selected soon for principal construction,  scheduled to begin in autumn 2012.

But while the 11-kilometre line appears to have achieved untouchable status in the  balance of regional politics, there are persistent voices in the blogosphere who say the project is wrong, wrong, wrong, because it’s based on Skytrain — the obtrusive technology previously used in three other Vancouver-area projects, and hardly anywhere else in the world.  In deliberations over the Evergreen Line around 2006, local mayors seemed to be leaning toward light rail transit, until the provincial government declared force majeure and imposed Skytrain.  The same dynamic had played out, less dramatically, with the Millenium and Canada lines earlier on. Continue reading