Nov 13 2019, 8:35 pm
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The City of Coquitlam is showing a new level of regional economic ambition with the details of its full draft city centre plan now released for public consultation.
This is effectively an update of the 2008 City Centre Area Plan, reflecting the new high-density, transit-oriented development opportunities made possible by the 2016 completion of SkyTrain Millennium Line’s Evergreen Extension, which provides the designated downtown area — an area of 1,789 acres — with three stations.
As with any district master planning process, the work identifies new land use, building forms, community amenities, public spaces, transportation improvements, and a mix of family-friendly housing. But this goes much further than the typical community plan, with a significant emphasis on office space, as well as retail, restaurants, and hotel uses forming an entertainment district.
Much of the core of this commercial downtown area is on the 60-acre Coquitlam Centre shopping mall, which is envisioned for a complete redevelopment by its owners.
Three unique precincts next to SkyTrain stations
Three unique precincts next to each of the three SkyTrain stations have been identified; precincts around Coquitlam Town Centre Station and Lincoln Station will see concentrations of office space, while the precinct around Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station will serve a greater civic purpose.
The Pinetree-Lougheed Precinct, next to Coquitlam Town Centre Station, serving as the gateway into the commercial downtown core, will centre around the activation of the intersection of Pinetree Way, Lougheed Highway, and Barnet Highway with commercial frontages and public plazas. Along with office uses, it is targeted as a suitable area for hotel and conference centre space.
Further up the Millennium Line, the Lincoln Station Precinct is planned as the heart of the commercial downtown core, supported by plazas, ample office use, and a wide variety of commercial uses that go beyond just streetfront retail. This is also the bulk of the entertainment district — complete with restaurants, public houses, nightclubs, theatres, and other entertainment venues.
Most of the footprint of Lincoln Station Precinct, currently largely used as ground-level parking for Coquitlam Centre, will be the first phase of the mall’s eventual redevelopment.
“Two Office Business Districts are envisioned for City Centre, which have been strategically situated around a transportation nexus,” reads the plan.
“These Districts will contain a dense concentration of office space, including office towers, situated within high-density mixed-use developments. This mix of land uses is intended to help animate the Commercial Downtown Core throughout the day and into the evening.”
At the terminus of the Millennium Line around Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station, Four Corners Precinct is a civic hub, given that it is the location of Town Centre Park and various civic buildings including city hall, the aquatic centre, and the Evergreen Cultural Centre.
This area will be further improved to turn it into an even more vibrant, people-focused magnet of activity for events, festivals, markets, and other cultural and public uses.
“This mixing of uses coupled with the establishment of several ‘Districts’ strategically situated in the Core will ensure a vibrant and active downtown day and night,” states the plan.
“The clustering of specific land uses into Districts within the downtown will establish a land use pattern in which related activities, whether entertainment, office, cultural or recreation are located close together to create a ‘critical mass’. Grouping these types of activities will help to establish destinations within the Core and foster economic development.”
High-density residential uses for families of all types and sizes is also deemed as crucial to support the cluster of businesses in the commercial downtown core and create vibrancy.
“Residential development in City Centre is a key component in creating a successful and sustainable downtown. Residential growth will help stimulate a diverse economy by supporting commercial businesses with foot traffic at all times of the day,” continues the plan.
“Density and height will transition lower with increased distance from the Core and area specific height limits have been established to provide an appropriate transition towards established lower density neighbourhoods.”
New streets, amenities, and institutions
A new public street grid will extend across the existing mall property, including the creation of the downtown promenade — a pedestrian-oriented, north-south high street with wide sidewalks that support the entertainment district, office business districts, and civic amenities.
Mandatory retail and restaurant street frontage will be required for the buildings that line much of the new grid in the core.
As well, greenways with pedestrian and cycling paths linking parks and other destinations will continue to be developed throughout the area.
In order to “bring an influx of young people, new ideas, and energy to Coquitlam,” the plan calls for a concentration of new and expanded post-secondary education institutions in the city centre.
The need for a new additional elementary school has been identified to accommodate the area’s population growth. This is expected to be an urban type of school building that requires less land area and features an efficient building design and layout.
Over time, additional land will be acquired for new public park space and other community amenities.
New additional SkyTrain station and Port Coquitlam extension
At the southwest corner of the city centre area, the plan calls for retaining and reserving additional rights-of-way through development to protect the potential future construction of a new additional SkyTrain station at Falcon Drive — next to the satellite SkyTrain operations and maintenance yard.
And in the southeast corner, the city also intends to retain and reserve rights-of-way in the Christmas Way area to ensure allowances exist for a potential future eastward SkyTrain extension from Coquitlam Central Station towards Port Coquitlam.
Multi-modal transportation improvements are highlighted for the existing city centre SkyTrain stations. New mobility hubs next to the stations will “seamlessly facilitate transfers between multiple transportation modes to improve first-to-last kilometre connectivity.”
These mobility hubs could have features such as pick-up and drop-off areas for transit buses, taxi, and ridehailing services, as well as secure bike parking, bike repair and maintenance equipment, bike and scooter share services, car share services, and electric-battery vehicle charging stations.
The municipal government’s online survey seeking public feedback on the draft city centre plan will be open until December 2, 2019. City staff will consider the submitted input for further refinements to the plan, before sending it to city council for final approval.