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

Port Coquitlam: where’s the port?

If you visit Port Coquitlam today, you’ll find it difficult to find a port, aside from a log sort yard a marina and a boat repair shop located some distance from each other along the Pitt River.

When the name “Port Coquitlam” was chosen  in about 1912, there were hopes for the creation of a major shipyard on the Pitt, but this never came to be.

Settlement in the area was focused  east and west of Shaughnessy Street, in what is still the downtown commercial area.  The attraction here was the junction of two rail lines, the Canadian Pacific main line and a branch line to New Westminster.  It’s true that the Coquitlam River runs through the middle of what was called “Westminster Junction,” and it’s a pretty stream, but you would be hard-pressed to operate any craft bigger than a canoe in its waters.  Continue reading

Tri-Cities towers: built on promises

Of all the Metro Vancouver suburbs, Port Moody has worked most diligently in the past 15 years to manufacture city-like environments, based on the expectation that rapid transit was coming soon.  Thousands of people are waiting for that first train.

NewPort Village, a pedestrian-oriented ring of retail shops and condos protected from through traffic (some might call it “Whistler-style development”) opened about 1997.  It’s been almost freakishly successful, attracting a cluster of residential towers.

More recently, development jumped to the west side of Ioco Road, where a kind of mini-Yaletown has sprouted up.  In 2009, however, Mayor Joe Trasolini imposed a moratorium on high-density development in Port Moody.  “The population in the last 15 years has doubled . . . we’re being criticized for growing too much without infrastructure in place.” Continue reading