From inspiring acts of unrest in Iran to a movie star’s slap to soup-slopping, art-effacing protesters to tumult at Twitter, we’ve seen a bit of everything this year. A convoy rolled in. Rogers switched off. Messi was masterful. Pope Francis apologized. Bolsonaro got bounced. The B.C. Liberals and the Brownies went looking for new names.
Closer to home, we saw drought, flood, and snow. There was upheaval in Port Moody politics, the continued densification of Coquitlam, and in Port Coquitlam there was pro wrestling. (There was more than that but nothing that was quite so much fun to write.)
And between council chambers and courtrooms, we glimpsed acts of irreverence, kindness and generosity that gave us hope for 2023.
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Iran ordered to pay $107-million to families of Flight 752 victims
In a landmark decision, Iran was ordered to pay $107 million to the families of six of the passengers who were murdered when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down near Tehran.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched two missiles that hit the Kyiv-bound plane shortly after takeoff on Jan. 8, 2020.
“I concluded on the expert evidence before me that the missile attacks were intentional,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba wrote.
‘You will never teach again’ Sex offender gets lifetime teaching ban
Following a 2017 conviction for sexually assaulting a child, Coquitlam substitute teacher Aleksandr Plehanov cannot be issued a teaching certificate for 25 years, according to a decision by the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch.
Plehanov hasn’t held a teaching certificate since 2014
Remembering Adam Andre: A Founding Member Of Lacrosse In Coquitlam
After decades of affiliation with Coquitlam Junior Adanacs, the former general manager and jack-of-all-trades volunteer Adam Andre died at the age of 79 on Sunday at Eagle Ridge Hospital.
In a conversation with The Dispatch, Adanacs general manager Scott Wortley discussed Andre’s many contributions.
Through frost, snow, and rain: Kyle Centre shelter consistently near capacity
Initially intended to be a temporary backstop for the most vulnerable people in the Tri-Cities, the Kyle Centre has been running at near-capacity every single night for two months through torrential rain, below freezing temperatures, snow, and another atmospheric river.
“We’ve pretty much been nonstop since we started,” explains Phoenix Society CEO Keir Macdonald. “We had no idea going in there would be this level of demand.”
The Phoenix Society started operating at the centre in November 2021 and neared capacity within the first week.
Coquitlam advances nearly 1,400 units in fast-paced meeting
In a span of approximately 24 minutes, Coquitlam council approved or advanced 1,399 units of housing with a series of unanimous votes during a January meeting.
From Burquitlam to Burke Mountain to Lougheed Highway, housing types ranged from townhouses to condos to strata units to below-market rental.
The night’s biggest development was a 563-unit project spanning four lots on Lougheed Highway and the 600 blocks of Grayson and Alderson and featuring two towers measuring 29 and 25 storeys.
Slightly smaller in stature was the 538-unit development earmarked for two lots on North Road and Whiting Way. Council granted the project third reading Monday.
MP calls for a halt to TMX, citing possible demise of salmon population
Accusing Trans Mountain of taking a “trial and error” approach to drilling that could put the Fraser River at risk, Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo called for the pipeline project to be shut down and reassessed in an open letter.
Citing the series of sinkholes around the Mary Hill Bypass, Zarrillo emphasized her concern regarding the construction of the pipeline under the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam.
“More troubling is that the federal government-owned Trans Mountain is alleged to have ignored the advice of its expert consultants who recommended more test drilling as well as highlighted concerns about its choice of standard horizontal direct drilling on soft and untested soils,” Zarrillo wrote.
For sedimental reasons: Geologist to discuss the up-and-down history of the Tri-Cities
The light dim and the roar ratchets up as the SkyTrain slips down, down into the Earth below Clarke Road into Port Moody.
Those 2.2 kilometres of tunnel are a transit route. They’re also, as geologist Lionel Jackson explains, a path into the past.
“People might consider when they take the SkyTrain and they enter the tunnel there at Burquitlam that they’re kind of going through a time machine,” he says.
Housing starts: Coquitlam out-builds Port Moody and Port Coquitlam 3 to 1
In a year when housing starts reached their highest level in the past decade, the west side of Coquitlam was the busiest spot in the Tri-Cities, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
There were 3,099 housing starts across the Tri-Cities last year, an uptick of 11 percent from last year and an increase of 102 percent compared to 2011 figures.
“Even after the pandemic, people kept on building,” noted Andy Yan, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University.
Three Port Moody heritage homes now sit side-by-side-by-side
The houses have been shuffled, the paperwork has been filed and three Port Moody homes are officially protected heritage properties.
For applicant and heritage advocate Fred Soofi, the unanimous vote from council was the culmination of a municipal process that started in 2015.
“These things are getting harder to do these days because the land value is going up and this is not for somebody who really wants to make profit,” Soofi said.
Easy as 1-2-3: The Moisio residence, (formerly at 2614 St. Johns Street), the Siddall residence (formerly at 2901 St. Johns Street), and the Sutherland Residence (formerly at 2830 St. George Street) were all trucked down St. Johns Street in the middle of the night and placed side-by-side on the newly subdivided lot at 123 Douglas Street.
Object permanence: PoCo Heritage putting historical artifacts online
First, there were the pictures.
Rows after black-and-white row of images from the past: kids posing for class photos a hundred years ago, settlers sawing through logs as thick as Godzilla’s wrist, a black train belching a cloud of white. There were divers that looked like insects in a low-budget science fiction movie, businesses that once thrived, and parades.
It was the history of Port Coquitlam and it needed to be put where Port Coquitlam residents could see it: online.
Burquitlam got big ‘n’ dense in 2022, with Coquitlam council approving more than 2,000 new units for the neighbourhood. Here’s a roundup of a few of the most impactful developments approved last year.
From six to 251: Coquitlam adds more density to Burquitlam
Council unanimously approved two Burquitlam area developments, despite one objection about an abundance of one-bedroom units in the development.
The two six-storey buildings are designed to include a total of 115 one-bedroom and studio units.
One more tower edges into Burquitlam skyline
More than one year after it was first approved, Coquitlam council re-approved a modified version of a 37-storey, 267-unit rental building in February.
Located at Clarke Road and Cottonwood Avenue, the project initially received fourth and final reading in December 2020.
Two projects totalling 242 units
In March, council approved a pair of projects totalling 242 units in Burquitlam.
The vote was unanimous approval. The discussion, however, contained a faint note of disapproval.
At issue were two apartment buildings, seven and six storeys, at 608 Regan Avenue. Consisting of 116 market rental units, the project is intended to be part of a density transfer.
29-storey tower moves ahead as Coquitlam council finalizes rental agreement
Despite winning approval last October, a 29-storey condo project earmarked for Burquitlam was back in front of Coquitlam council in May.
The project consists of one 29-storey, 246-unit condo tower next to a 103-unit, six-storey rental building spread over five lots on Claremont Street and Gardena Drive.
110-unit Burquitlam project approved despite affordability concerns
It may not be as affordable or as family-oriented as some observers thought it should be, but a new purpose-built rental building is set to move ahead in Burquitlam following a unanimous vote from Coquitlam council in July.
Coquitlam approves 44-storey tower
Coquitlam council approved a 44-storey apartment building at North Road and Tyndall Street in a unanimous vote held at about 1:40 a.m. at the conclusion of a council meeting in July.
Located just north of Como Lake Avenue, the project includes a six-storey apartment building for a total of 446 units. Those units consist of 422 market condos and 24 below-market rentals slated to operated by a non-profit organization.
Coquitlam approves 42-storey Burquitlam tower
Despite concerns that ranged from the loss of a tall sequoia to the area’s ongoing sewage overflow problem, Coquitlam council unanimously voted to add 744 new units to Burquitlam.
The project – which involves putting a 42-storey condo highrise, a 16-storey condo tower, and a pair of six-storey rental buildings on 12 lots in 600-blocks of Claremont Street and Gardena Drive – is located at the “nexus of multiple issues” affecting the neighbourhood, according to Oakdale neighbourhood Association representative Rick Rupp.
Condo/rental tower set to rise from Burquitlam funeral home site
More than two years after the rezoning process wrapped up, a 27-storey, 195-unit tower is set to be built on the former site of the Burquitlam Funeral Home.
Council unanimously approved a housing agreement with the developer at a Nov. 28 meeting. That agreement calls for 33 market rental units and 11 below-market rental units to be included for the life of the building. alongside the project’s 151 market condos.
Coquitlam Search and Rescue gets $100K
Coquitlam Search and Rescue volunteers should have a longer reach on the longline and a quicker reaction in swift water, following a $117,000 infusion from the province.
“We’re so glad,” said Coquitlam Search and Rescue president Helena Michelis, noting the sum represented a substantial increase from 2021.
The money is earmarked for longline training intended to allow rescuers to be lowered from a helicopter to help a lost or injured hiker in the backcountry.
Coquitlam’s pop. hops while Port Moody’s drops
The Tri-Cities added 12,401 new residents between 2016 and 2021, with about three-quarters of that growth concentrated in Coquitlam, according to recently released Census data.
Coquitlam added 9,341 residents between 2016 and 2021, a 6.7 percent increase that brought the city’s population to 148,625.
The city also added more 4,000 new dwellings during that stretch, going from 54,393 to 58,683 housing units.
Despite adding 285 new units of housing, the population in the City of the Arts dropped by 16 people between 2016 and 2021, bringing Port Moody’s population to 33,535.
Looking for Jesse Scott
There’s a history we know and a history we lost. This story is about the second kind.
At the Port Moody Station Museum, curator Markus Fahrner does something unusual for a historian: he talks about rumours.
There are rumours about how Jesse Scott came to be at the Imperial Oil Corporation in 1923. There are rumours about how hard he worked and how he died. But even the rumours don’t answer the biggest question.
“Who is Jesse?” Fahrner asks.
‘Threatening the recovery of our economy and society;’ Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce calls for end to blockades
Following two weeks of border blockades protesting vaccine mandates, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce joined a chorus of businesses and financial organizations across Canada calling for a “swift end” to the roadblocks.
In the wake of supply chain disruptions, inflation and extreme weather, “the blockades are threatening the recovery of our economy and society,” according to a statement from Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO Leslie Courchesne.
“We are calling on our elected officials to bring the illegal blockades to an end,” Courchesne stated.
Restrictions lift, masks stay on: B.C. moves to long-term COVID-19 strategy
There will be dancing, dining, packed movie theatres, full restaurants, and fitness centres at full capacity soon as B.C. readies to ease several COVID-19 restrictions. However, masks and vaccine cards are still required, Premier John Horgan explained.
“It gives people comfort when they go out into social settings, particularly seated events, that the people that are around them have taken the same measures to protect themselves,” Horgan said.
Burpee honoured with Coquitlam’s highest award
In recognition of his efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and the find the lost, Coquitlam council awarded Sandy Burpee the Freedom of the City award Monday.
Burpee became the 12th recipient of the award, which is the highest honour a municipality can bestow.
Burpee was somewhat philosophical about the event.
“At this stage of my life, and probably encouraged by the pandemic, I’ve been looking back over my past,” the retired B.C. Hydro engineer told council Monday.
As he looked over his life, Burpee said he was confronted with a question: has he been doing the work he felt called to do?
“I’m so grateful for this award,” he said. “Because it suggests that I have been.”
Port Moody goes ahead with St. Johns gateway project
Despite some concerns about oncoming gridlock, Port Moody council approved a two-building, six-storey, 222-unit project for 2025 St. Johns Street in a 4-3 vote.
The project will likely exacerbate traffic problems, according to Coun. Hunter Madsen, who noted the project is about a 1.7-kilometre hike from Moody Centre SkyTrain.
“That means most of Marcon’s nearly 500 new residents will probably be car- and commute-dependent,” he said, explaining his decision to vote against the project. “I might even have looked the other way if this project was providing enough value to justify the traffic mayhem it’s going to be adding to.”
Addressing those traffic concerns, Coun. Zoe Royer took a regional view.
“Where we delay or deny these projects we actually push density into Langley, Mission, Abbotsoford, and Hope,” she said. “We push people into auto-dependency and taking longer and longer commutes.”
Tattle notches four goals in third period; raises $5K for cancer research
With the Coquitlam Express trailing 3-1 heading into the third period on Saturday night, team captain Ryan Tattle went on a scoring spree that ranged from “nice!” to “how did that even go in?” while raising more than $5,000 for cancer research in the process.
Before the puck dropped against the visiting Victoria Grizzlies, Tattle picked up a microphone and thanked the Coquitlam crowd for turning the Score for Cancer initiative into: “something I could have never imagined.”
A collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society, the fundraiser invites donors to pledge money for every point Tattle racks up on the ice. With $1,036 committed per point, Tattle has raised more than $42,000 through Score for Cancer this season
“Anyone that shared a tweet, shared an Instagram story, donated, pledged, whatever you did, it all helps,” he said.
To the game
Despite outshooting the Grizzlies for much of the game, the Express were trailing Victoria 3-1 in the third when Tattle fired a wrist shot for his first goal of the evening.
With the game locked in a 3-3 tie, left winger Tyler Kopff set up Tattle’s go-ahead one-timer.
Tattle also got the Express some insurance late in the game, somehow slipping out of a defender sandwich and finding the back of the net with another wrister.
Led by Tattle’s four goals and one assist, the Express took the game 6-3.
Coquitlam resident rallying to help Ukraine
It’s not enough – but it’s what he can do.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Burke Mountain resident Artem Gradushy watched the news and thought about his family. He talked to friends he hadn’t spoken to in years. And he thought about where he used to live.
“I was angry and upset and frustrated and I was just sitting here,” he says.
He thought about how good his life was in Coquitlam. And he had a question he needed to answer: “What can I do?”
He found an answer.
On Monday evening Gradushy was manoeuvring through the aisles at Costco and Carter’s and dropping in on generous neighbours to pick up diapers, baby clothes and hygiene products to be sent to people in Ukraine. By late evening he’d raised $655 and filled his car with blankets, warm clothes, non-perishable food items, diapers and even plush toys.
Coquitlam expands pickleball; tennis players looking for a little more love
The three tennis courts at Bramble Park in Coquitlam are set to be permanently converted into eight dedicated pickleball courts this summer as Coquitlam attempts to meet growing demand for the popular paddle sport.
Besides the $65,000 Bramble project, Coquitlam is looking to add eight new outdoor tennis courts and 20 new indoor pickleball courts to the city by 2027.
- Four indoor pickleball courts at Place Maillardville Community Centre in 2022
- Three pickleball courts at the Burquitlam YMCA in 2022
- One new outdoor tennis court at Blue Mountain Park in 2025
- Three new outdoor tennis courts at Cottonwood Park in 2026
- Eight new indoor pickleball courts at the Northeast Community Centre in 2026
School board grudgingly agrees to put $25 million toward new Burke Mountain school
School District #43 has five years to come up with $25 million to help pay for the forthcoming Burke Mountain Secondary/Middle School following a unanimous vote by the school board.
“It’s not an easy decision,” said board chair Michael Thomas. “But at the same time, it is.”
While Thomas said he’d rather spend the money on staffing to support the most vulnerable students, he emphasized the community needs a school on Burke Mountain and, without it, the district will likely be on the hook for 40 portables over the next seven years.
The district is planning to help foot the bill for the school with $10 million that was intended to pay for a 10-classroom addition at Scott Creek Middle School.
Coquitlam gives final approval to two projects, 796 units south of Burquitlam
The shovels can hit the ground and the buildings can scrape the sky.
Construction can get started on a two-building, 538-unit development on two lots at North Road and Whiting Way following a unanimous vote by council.
Located at 675 North Road and 668 Whiting Way, the project features a 45-storey market condo tower and an 18-storey rental tower both perched over a shared commercial podium.
New $77M recycling/waste centre set to open on United Boulevard
The old place is getting dumped.
Located at 995 United Boulevard, the new, bigger location will accept used oil and antifreeze and include a station for drink containers ranging from wine to milk.
“This new facility, serving approximately 200,000 customers per year, will make it easier and more accessible to recycle all kinds of items, and will help us reach our regional goal of an 80-per-cent recycling rate,” stated Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee chair Jack Froese in a press release.
Funded through tipping fees, the cost of the new facility is $77.6 million.
Province lifts mask mandate; schools set to go maskless after spring break
Masks are no longer required on transit or in public indoor settings, following ab announcement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
However, businesses can still choose to require that customers wear masks.
The new rules also lift restrictions on service capacity at places of worship and allow for overnight camps for children and for youth.
Due to the high levels of immunity, the loosening of restrictions will likely not lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, according to Henry.
“We may see a slight increase in cases but I don’t expect to see a jump,” she said. “As rates of transmission go down, we’re all protected a little better.”
Port Moody agrees on two-year deal for Inlet Theatre music series
The bands are back in town.
Port Moody council approved a two-year Inlet Theatre music series in a unanimous vote, granting an application brought forward by musicians Darlene Cooper and Bill Sample in 2021.
The series is intended to fill a cultural void caused by the Gallery Bistro fire.
That fire: “left a great hole in the music and arts community . . . particularly for musicians and music lovers,” Cooper wrote in a message to council.
Port Coquitlam council passes anti-racism policy
It won’t change the world but – in time – it may change Port Coquitlam.
Port Coquitlam council unanimously passed an anti-racism policy Tuesday. However, policy without action is merely words, noted Mayor Brad West.
“It would be tempting to be overly-congratulatory,” he said. “Our work is not done, not by a long shot.”
Drinking in parks permitted across Tri-Cities
After taking a sober second look, Port Coquitlam council decided letting residents have a drink in a park is an idea worth keeping.
In March 2021, council opted to allow residents to have a drink at Peace Park, McLean Park and Dominion Park on a trial basis. Seven other parks were selected on a permanent basis. More than one year later, police and city bylaw officers both reported their proactive patrols observed: “people were socially gathering and enjoying park space with family and friends.”
As more Port Coquitlam residents live in multi-family housing, the city’s alcohol policy allows apartment dwellers to invite a friend over for a beer and a barbecue, according to Mayor Brad West.
Coquitlam followed suit in July, approving ‘reasonable consumption’ of alcohol in public places.
Also in July, Port Moody opted to allow drinking in parks for at least six months.
Local landmarks star in Netflix’s The Adam Project
While a certain new Disney Pixar film has been getting a lot of Canadian — ahem, Torontonian — buzz, there’s a different streamable film that has our attention – and some of our scenery.
Netflix’s The Adam Project was filmed in the Lower Mainland in 2020 and 2021 with the bulk of the locations in Vancouver and North Vancouver. But there are also two locations that were utilized near the Tri-Cities.
New Maillardville Community Centre to double current space, programming
When the new Place Maillardville Community Centre opens this fall, a new operator will be at the helm.
The City of Coquitlam recently announced that it would be taking over operations of the facility when it opens. Société Place Maillardville Society, which has offered programming and services in the community for more than 20 years, was disappointed by the decision but will work with the City to ensure a smooth transition.
Coquitlam seed library open for business
A new resource sprouted up to help Lower Mainland gardeners make their yards more sustainable.
The Institute of Urban Ecology (IUE) at Douglas College started a seed library stocked with a variety of plants.
The library currently has more than 20 species ranging from pollinator-friendly Douglas aster to sun-loving yarrow.