A look back at 2021, part 4

The Dispatch’s fond (and not so fond) tribute to the year that was

After slow fashion and fast development, an election that happened and a byelection that might not happen, we ended the year bidding a sad farewell to Mary Anne Cooper.

A look back at 2021, part 3

A look back at 2021, part 2

A look back at 2021, part 1

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Port Moody approves three-building Murray Street development in split vote

A trio of six-storey residential, commercial and light-industrial buildings are set to be built on the 3000-block of Murray Street following a 4-3 vote Tuesday evening.

Council was generally divided between enthusiastic support and teetering ambivalence for the 215-unit development.

Coun. Diana Dilworth praised the project as: “one of the final pieces to re-animate Murray Street.”
“Every decision that council has made has really improved the quality of life down on Murray Street,” Dilworth said.

Both Couns. Hunter Madsen and Steve Milani described the project as being “not quite there.” Madsen suggested there were too few jobs as well as a “measly” 16 below-market units.

Reduce, reuse, refashion: local designers look to make destructive textile industry greener and slower

photo Marissa Tiel

In this long-read, contributing writer Marissa Tiel looks at the environmental costs of haute couture and what some local designers are doing to slow down fast fashion.

First and foremost, Alisa Yao is a problem-solver. She creates out of need. But not excess. Never excess.

When she couldn’t find locally-made eco food wraps, she made her own. When she couldn’t find a suitably sized collar for her newly-adopted rescue dog, she made her own.

“It’s out of that frustration, when I can’t find what I need, then I go and make something,” she says.

Yao seems happiest when she’s using her hands. But the source of her materials is what makes her a unique creator. As a zero-waste product designer, she rarely, if ever, buys anything new.

She approaches problem-solving – the genesis of great design – from a waste-less perspective.

It’s a concept that the global fashion industry is slowly starting to adopt.

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Coquitlam approves Mercedes dealership despite qualms from province

The former Greyhound bus depot at 100 Woolridge St. is set to become a car dealership, following a unanimous vote by Coquitlam city council.

Allowing the dealership, located north of Highway 1 and roughly equidistant from IKEA and KMS Tools, means changing the zoning of the site from industrial to service commercial, a change that elicited a couple questions from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

One of the pillars of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy includes supporting a sustainable economy – in part by protecting industrial land.

“Has this been considered?” inquired MOTI area development and operations technician Gillian Harrison.

Harrison also asked if the city has “plans to increase industrial land elsewhere?”

The change in land use would “be complementary” to other service commercial businesses to the west, east and north, according to a city staff report.

The report anticipates 135 jobs at the dealership and adjacent office.

Harrison’s letter also noted there’s no direct access from the site to Highway 1 and that Coquitlam would have to deal with all storm water.

Situated on a 3.87-acre parcel, the two-storey Mercedes-Benz dealership is set to include a showroom, repair bays and a car wash.

Their Spirits Are Still With Us: Port Coquitlam artists point spray paint at systemic racism

photo supplied

You see it scrawled on train cars and festooned beneath overpasses. The canvas is brick walls, old buildings and anywhere else where there’s a can of spray paint and an artist with a limited appreciation for Canada’s criminal code.

The RCMP sees it as mischief under or over $5,000. It depresses property values, hurts tourism and sends a message that “nobody cares.”

Priscilla Omulo sees it differently.

For Omulo, those fire-coloured streaks and silver stencils on backgrounds of grey and rust represent a scream.

“I know that feeling of wanting to scream and fight the system and feeling so oppressed and unseen and unheard,” she says.

It makes you want to do something, she explains.

It made Omulo want to address colonialism and racism and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It made her want to the “share in that scream.”

Click here to read the story on Tri-Cities Dispatch.


Second Terry Fox statue on the way

photo supplied Port Coquitlam

A new Terry Fox statue is set to be commissioned for the newly-opened Port Coquitlam Community Centre, Mayor Brad West announced.

The news comes less than a month after the George Pratt-sculpted statue was plucked from storage and placed atop a granite base near the Hyde Creek rec centre.

West made the announcement Saturday in the newly-minted Terry Fox Hometown Square at the opening of the $132-million Port Coquitlam Community Centre.

Coquitlam eyes $12-million infrastructure funding gap

A jump in construction costs and the inclusion of a couple previously omitted infrastructure items may add up to a $31-million infrastructure bill for Coquitlam.

The city currently has $19 million allocated for infrastructure.

While city infrastructure is “generally in good condition,” sidewalks, curbs and streetlights were left out of previous funding models, necessitating more funding, according to a staff report submitted to council on Monday.

“We are approaching a wall of replacements,” explained city utility asset manager Jude Pillainayagam.

If not dealt with, the funding gap can mean more potholes, crumbling sidewalks, increased watermain breaks and sewer backups. The “suboptimal investment” can also result in an overall hike in both operating and maintenance costs, according to a city staff report.

It’s a problem that’s “easy to ignore,” Coun. Brent Asmundson explained, noting that a tax increase can result in: “a big hit on [the] political aspirations.”

“I want us to be right up front with our public on what it takes to properly maintain their assets and not have a surprise for future councils and future residents,” Asmundson said.

Options for a funding strategy are slated to be brought forward in 2022.

‘Hoax’ bomb threat at Port Moody Secondary seems part of a troubling trend

Port Moody Secondary was evacuated Monday afternoon following a bomb threat that required police to sweep the school before classes could resume.

It was the second threat to a Port Moody school in less than a week.

Police are now set to investigate who made the threat, according to Port Moody Police Department medial relations officer Const. Sam Zacharias.

Anecdotally speaking, there seems to be a rise in fake reports ranging from bomb threats to swatting calls, Zacharias said.

“The common goal generally is to provoke a large police response and to cause some fright or fear in somebody,” he said. “It’s not a victimless crime by any stretch of the imagination.”

Coquitlam asks province to scrap byelection requirement

There’s an empty seat on Coquitlam council and – if council has its way – that seat will stay empty until after the October 2022 municipal election.

One election leads to another: Following her recent election victory, Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo can no longer continue to serve on council, a situation that would customarily result in a byelection.

Generally, a municipality is obliged to plan the byelection as soon as is reasonably possible following a vacancy.

Given the approximately $200,000 byelection cost as well as the relatively brief tenure of the successful byelection candidate, council is lobbying the provincial government to cancel the byelection.

“We didn’t want to have to go through a process where you’d have two municipal elections in the same calendar year,” explained Coun. Dennis Marsden.

Local governments have the option of not holding a byelection if the vacancy occurs after Jan. 1 in an election year.

In addition to the cost, there is the issue of the election taking up staff time and “squeezing out” other priorities, according to city manager Peter Steblin.

Besides winter weather and the ongoing pandemic, running for office twice in the space of one year won’t work for any candidate “unless . . . they’ve got a circle of friends that are extensive and wealthy,” commented Mayor Richard Stewart.

Opinion: We’re forced – forced, we say – to call for another election (sorry)

Premiere: Port Moody, Mary Anne Cooper, and the search for ‘little miracles’

photo Jeremy Shepherd

The microphone turns on and the crowd bursts into applause.

The cheers are partially due to the feeling of shared triumph that arises whenever an uncooperative gadget starts working but mostly, the applause is about anticipation. After nearly three years, the Mary Anne Cooper documentary is set to premiere.

It’s Saturday afternoon at Inlet Theatre in Port Moody and the movie is about to start.

After slipping past the shred-a-thon in the parking lot and having their vaccine cards scanned, the theatregoers turn to a tong-wielding volunteer who dishes out red masks like a caterer apportioning cuts of roast beef. Red is Cooper’s colour.

Inside the theatre there’s a stir as Mary Anne Cooper, 106 years old and about to become a movie star, takes her seat.

Click here to read the article at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Welcome figure stands tall at Douglas College campus

photo supplied Douglas College

She’s a figure of welcome, pride and protection.

Stretching to a height of 2.5 metres on Douglas College’s southeast lawn near Pinetree Way, Salmon Woman Welcomes Salmon Home was officially unveiled Tuesday.

The figure welcomes salmon home every year in the same way the school welcomes returning students, explained carver Gerry Sheena in a press release.

“She stands strong and proud, like the First Nations Peoples she represents, and she is the guardian of the land and the river of the Kwikwetlem people,” Sheena stated.

The work was commissioned to mark the college’s 50th anniversary as well as well as the fact the school is located on traditional Coast Salish territories, “in particular the Kwikwetlem First Nation,” noted Douglas College president Kathy Denton.

“This carving serves as a symbol of our Nation’s close and enduring ties to these lands and waters and serves as a reminder that we are the First Peoples to have lived here,” said Kwikwetlem First Nation Chief Ed Hall.

Mental health worker helps dish out 35 turkeys this Thanksgiving

photo supplied

It started with three turkeys – but, truth be told, it started a long time before that.

Mental health worker Jessa Turner remembers when she was a single mom dreading a holiday alone. It made her want to do something for other single mothers and for seniors in the same spot.

“I’ve been judged and I’ve been alone. I’ve been hopeless. I’ve been all that,” she says. “It’s all about people knowing that they’re not alone. . . That’s what got me through.”

With Thanksgiving approaching, Turner decided to buy three turkeys for people in the community who need a little help. She described her plans on social media and, almost as soon as she did, her plans got bigger.

“I just started getting messages from others wanting to help and others needing help.”

With 35 orders to fill, Turner went to Top Notch Catering in Port Coquitlam.

Owner Tiaan Grimbeek was pleased to take up the task.

“For some families who wouldn’t have had the dinner, this gives us the opportunity to help them,” he said.

Port Moody considers giving a home to anti-racist selfie sculpture

image supplied selfiesculpture.com

The artwork consists of two hands representing different races, their fingers entwined around a 2.5-metre tall metal cellphone.

The sculpture is planned and paid for. That leaves two questions for Port Moody council: Do we take it? And if we do, where do we put it?

If filmmaker Mostafa Keshvari has his way, the cement sculpture will find a home in Port Moody.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Keshvari suggested Rocky Point Park as a possible location, an idea that got a mixed reaction from council.

Given that the city budget is “particularly strained,” Coun. Hunter Madsen questioned whether the anti-racism sculpture would really lead to less racism.

“I’m not yet convinced that . . . doing this large, symbolic gesture would actually [make] our community less racist under the surface.”

Madsen also suggested the artwork might have inverse consequences, leading to a mindset that: “the problem of racist, tribal thinking is really as simple . . . as taking a selfie before two differently coloured giant hands.”

It might be better to use city resources to fund anti-racism training, reconciliation efforts, or a speaker series dealing with critical race theory, Madsen suggested.

Counterpoint: While anti-racism efforts are noble, Keshvari emphasized the power of painting and sculpture.

“I think art speaks louder than anything,” he said. “I hope that this art will outlive us.”

By the numbers: A look at housing needs in Port Moody

With Port Moody council set to discuss the city’s housing needs and how best to balance population growth with investments in infrastructure, we thought it was a good opportunity to examine housing in the City of the Arts.

Approximately 20 percent of Port Moody residents are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

That’s one of the key findings in a staff report that paints a picture of housing where potential residents are often left choosing between buying something unaffordable or trying to rent something that’s unavailable.

Read the article at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Belcarra renamed təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park

photo supplied Metro Vancouver

The Tsleil-Waututh’s largest ancestral village, formerly known as Belcarra Regional Park, has been officially renamed təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park.

Given the land’s connection to oral histories, high chiefs and spiritual leaders, Friday’s renaming ceremony marks a milestone in telling the story of the Tsleil-Waututh, explained Nation Chief Jen Thomas.

“It shows both our Tsleil-Waututh community and members of the general public the importance of acknowledging and honouring Tsleil-Waututh’s history on this land and in these waters since time out of mind,” Thomas stated in a press release.

Roughly pronounced “Tamm-tamm-eeuff-ton,” (the ‘a’ sounds are soft), the name translates as “the biggest place for all the people” in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the land served as a winter village where people fished for salmon, smelt, and herring, and gathered mussels, clams, and urchins and hunted black tailed deer, according to information provided via the Bill Reid Centre at SFU.

A lost gold mine, an old curse, and finding the facts lost in a B.C. legend

There’s gold in those hills, or so the legend goes. photo supplied James Wheeler

There might not be anything there.

The gold. The curse. The story that’s coaxed countless prospectors up the Pitt River to find the treasure they figure must be waiting at the top of the hill and the end of the story . . . well, it might be a myth.

But not all of it. There are facts mixed with the legend and, for author and historian Brian Antonson, separating one from the other has fascinated him since he was a boy listening to the yarn around the campfire.

Click here to read the yarn at Tri-Cities Dispatch.

Port Moody approves extreme weather shelter

Homeless people will be able to use Kyle Centre during the coldest, wettest days this winter, following a unanimous vote from Port Moody council Tuesday.

Coun. Amy Lubik brought the idea forward in June after observing that homeless people were increasingly being caught in extreme weather.

“The Tri-Cities were not prepared to shelter the most precarious and marginalized of our community,” Lubik stated.

Tuesday’s vote, which followed a motion from Coun. Diana Dilworth, clarified that the Kyle Centre can be used as an extreme weather shelter from January to March 2022.

Cycling the Tri-Cities

Walkers, cyclists and drivers compete for space on the road to Sasamat Lake. photo supplied Colleen MacDonald, HUB

For cyclists, the worst spot in Coquitlam is where Barnet and Lougheed highways meet up with Pinetree Way. There were seven crashes there involving cyclists between 2016 and 2020, according to ICBC data.

In Port Coquitlam, it’s Lougheed Highway and Westwood Street, where there seven crashes between 2016 and 2020.

Prairie Avenue is also a rough stretch of road for cyclists, as ICBC recorded three crashes at Prairie and Coast Meridian, three crashes at Prairie and Oxford Street and three crashes at Prairie and Cedar Drive.

Based on the crash data, Port Moody is significantly safer, with two crashes at Douglas and Clarke streets and a total of three crashes at three different points along Barnet Highway.

The numbers are accurate but they also fail to tell the full story, according to HUB co-chair Colin Fowler.

There are spots that appear relatively safe, Fowler notes. “But that’s just because people are full-on avoiding it.”

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch.

Tri-Cities Parks Guide: Rocky Point is the best park around

photo Elizabeth Gray, Tri-City Photography Club

After tabulating the votes of 800 Dispatch readers we ranked Rocky Point as the best park in town.

Could this be the place?

It’s usually after leaving the Moody Centre SkyTrain station and schlepping across the sunken parking lot that I find myself wondering if I got off at the wrong stop.

Could this be the place?

But once you clamber up and out of that parking lot and your eye fills with green it’s like you found a shortcut to Shangri-La.

In the summer you can grab a bite at Pajos and enjoy the ambience provided by the seagulls that crowd your table like an over-attentive maitre d. There’s Rocky Point Ice Cream (I particularly recommend the raspberry lime mojito).

There’s a playground, a summertime splash park, and a great big patch of grass that’s perfect for a game of catch or flying a kite.

Toward the water there’s shoreline trail, there’s kayaking and paddleboarding and just enjoying the view.

I don’t know if it’s the best park in the Tri-Cities but it is objectively delightful. And, based on your votes, Rocky Point is definitely the place.

Check out the Parks Guide

Port Moody giving time to pedestrians; drivers to wait longer

Pedestrians are getting seconds.

In a bid to make crossing the street feel less like a game of beat-the-clock, Port Moody voted unanimously to give pedestrians more time at 15 intersections.

Previously, Port Moody pedestrians were expected to cross the street at a rate of 1.2 metres per second. That speed: “poses a challenge for seniors and mobility- or visually-impaired users,” according to a city staff report.

Slowing the pace will “ultimately make the community more walkable,” the report concluded.

The new pace: The city is planning to slow the pace to between 0.8 and 1.0 metres per second at 15 intersections in the city, including eight along St. Johns, five spots along Ioco Road, as well as Clarke and Moody and Dewdney Trunk Road and Barnet Highway.

The $15,000 initiative will “cause some increased delays” for drivers, according to the staff report.

29-storey condo building set to rise in Burquitlam

Despite parking concerns, five houses located north of the Burquitlam Safeway are slated to be transformed into a mix of 349 condo and apartment units following a unanimous vote by Coquitlam council Monday night.

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.

While the project includes 389 parking spots, some in the neighbourhood envision a parking nightmare as visitors and residents jockey for street parking, said Rick Rupp while speaking on behalf of Oakdale Neighbourhood Association members.

“People who can afford to buy here will be able to afford to buy a car,” he said. “They’re going to be driving.”

Despite being about 275 metres from the SkyTrain, few amenities are within walking distance, Rupp contended.

“This is not your 15-minute neighbourhood,” he said.

Addressing those concerns, Mayor Richard Stewart emphasized the introduction of neighbouring amenities including the YMCA set to open in late 2022.

“Our goal is to make sure that that walkable, livable community is fully served by amenities,” Stewart said.

Man hospitalized following struggle with police; independent investigation launched

B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office is probing an encounter with Coquitlam RCMP officers that left one man hospitalized in critical condition.

Timeline: At 3:10 a.m. Tuesday night, a Coquitlam RCMP officer was asked to help find a man who was said to have left his house intoxicated and wearing only a t-shirt and underwear. Later that night, an officer found the man outside a house in the 300-block of Balfour Drive near RC MacDonald Elementary.

Two officers tried to take the man into custody. The man resisted and “a struggle ensued,” according to the release.

Breathing problems: After the man was in handcuffs, “officers noted the man was having trouble breathing and lost consciousness,” the report stated.

Police began resuscitation efforts until paramedics arrived and took the man to hospital where he was listed in critical condition, according to the release.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the IIO at 1-855-446-8477 or through the form at iiobc.ca.

400-unit Coquitlam apartment project gets approval

Coquitlam council approved a 422-unit apartment project in the neighbourhood sandwiched by Highway 1 and Lougheed Highway in a unanimous vote Monday night.

Situated over 21 properties on Alderson Avenue, Dunlop Street, Sunset Avenue and Euclid Court, the four-building, six-storey development got the green light over the objection of neighbours who described their own rezoning ambitions as being shunted aside.

The voice from across the street: Discussing the “chaos that will follow” development, Alderson Avenue resident Ken Williams discussed his so-far frustrated plans to create his own land assembly.

Williams asked council not to “discriminate against” a proposal put forward by residents in favour of a development company’s application.

It would be challenging to amend the city’s official community plan without 100 percent support from area homeowners, according to city staff, who noted that Alderson Avenue was just beyond the borders of the area currently eligible for more density.

The plan ended at Alderson Avenue, Mayor Richard Stewart noted.

It’s important that council make decisions based on land uses as opposed to investment upside, Stewart explained.

Right idea, wrong place: Port Moody gets first look at Murray Street proposal

Their first look was a dim view.

Port Moody council seemed largely unpersuaded about the merits of a 12-storey, 207-unit mass timber building proposed for the swath of Murray Street across from Rocky Point Park.

“If it was anywhere else . . . I would be all over it,” Coun. Meghan Lahti said during Tuesday night’s early input session.

“It’s so far removed from what the [official community plan] calls for,” Lahti added, noting the area is currently zoned for six storeys.

While some councillors praised the architectural design and use of timber, there were also criticisms regarding the height and density and abundance of one-bedroom units. Coun. Steve Milani suggested the project was out of step with human scale development and Coun. Hunter Madsen referred to the project as a: “a 12-storey box.”

Coquitlam approves Burke Mountain townhouse development

Despite some concerns about wildlife conflict and a dearth of daycare, Coquitlam council unanimously approved a 148-unit Burke Mountain townhouse project Monday.

Located primarily on the 3600-block of Victoria Drive, the development spans 33 acres and replaces six single-family homes with 41 new buildings.

The development includes 43 three-bedroom units and 105 four-bedroom units.

Port Moody tipster leads to arrest of alleged backyard prowler

One man was arrested after Port Moody police received a report of a trespasser wandering into multiple backyards in the Moody Centre neighbourhood.

The man “appeared to be casing the homes,” according to a statement from Port Moody Police Department public relations officer Const. Sam Zacharias.

The suspect left the area and departed into the forest before officers arrived, according to Zacharias. However, officers located the man who was “wanted on multiple warrants from two Lower Mainland agencies,” according to Zacharias.

“Thanks to astute residents we were able to locate a wanted man and possibly prevent further offences,” Zacharias said.

Two outlooks on housing: Port Moody vs. Coquitlam

photo Jeremy Shepherd

It’s not our intention to say that one municipality’s approach is good and one is bad. However, we found it interesting that two municipalities so similarly affected by the housing crisis are responding so differently. This article is a breakdown of two council meetings held on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19

When it got down to it, an information report on housing in Port Moody just wasn’t informative enough.

After an hour-long discussion on the provincially-mandated housing needs report, Port Moody council ultimately voted to have city staff investigate bringing back a more in-depth housing action plan.

Port Moody’s discussion was a stark contrast from Coquitlam’s council meeting held the previous evening.

Following an extensive public hearing, Coquitlam council advanced four development proposals totaling 1,011 housing units in a space of about 17 minutes.

Visit Tri-Cities Dispatch to read the story.

‘Great’ And ‘Gorgeous,’ Council Praises Proposed 2,500-Unit Development

image supplied

Despite a few qualms about a too-small daycare and leftover density, Coquitlam council was generally effusive in their praise for an eight-tower development pitched for the former Coronation Park Elementary site.

Council used adjectives like “great,” “gorgeous,” and “awesome-looking” to describe the proposed project from Polygon development company that would put 2,558 units in buildings ranging from 38 to 45 storeys.

Set to be built over about 16 years, the project consists of 590 rental units and 1,968 condos on a handful of single-family lots at 135 Balmoral Drive and 2518-2548 Palmer Avenue.

Visit Tri-Cities Dispatch to read the story.

12 kilometres, two years and 300 trees: a look at next year’s water main project

photo supplied Metro Vancouver

As the region gets thirstier, the infrastructure gets more extensive.

About two kilometres of the region’s new water main is set to be tunneled under downtown Coquitlam, necessitating single-lane traffic along segments of Pipeline Road from Robson Drive to El Casa Court.

The two-year construction period is tentatively slated to start in the fall of 2022.

The project stretches over 12 kilometres between the north end of Pipeline Road to Mariner Way at Riverview Crescent.

While still preliminary, the projected cost is $110 million.

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Port Coquitlam buys a new footbridge

After 40 years of service, the McAllister footbridge is set to be swapped out for a new $2,756,000 span following a unanimous Port Coquitlam council vote Tuesday.

Discussing walking and cycling downtown, Mayor Brad West cited the “esthetics, the attractiveness and the usability,” of the new bridge, which is set to be located just north of the current Coquitlam River crossing that stretches between Gately Avenue and Maple Street.

“I think it will establish an important connection over to Kingsway and Gately,” West said, noting the six-storey, 302-unit affordable housing project in the area.

Port Coquitlam approves Atkins apartment.; Mayor calls for swifter demolitions of nuisance properties

Two years later and two units bigger, Port Coquitlam unanimously approved a six-storey apartment building on the 2300-block of Atkins Avenue.

Council approved the project in 2019 but, after developer Atelier Pacific Architecture applied to go from 33 to 35 units, a second approval was necessary.

The 35-unit apartment building replaces two houses – now demolished – that the city defined as “nuisance properties.” However, calling those houses a nuisance is “putting it mildly,” said Mayor Brad West.

“For far too long, those two homes sat there and were, again, more than a nuisance,” West said. “If the situation develops again . . . I hope that we can use every tool at our disposal very quickly and get homes demolished.”

The responsibility rests with property owners, West added.

“If they’re looking to have development occur in the community then they also have a responsibility . . . to ensure that their properties don’t become a staging ground for theft and crime.”

Eggscommunicated: Port Moody bans backyard chickens

Despite the role chickens can play in increasing the availability of inexpensive food, Port Moody council unanimously decided to prohibit backyard hens due to the risk of wildlife conflicts.

The move earned the support of conservation officer Todd Hunter.

“Port Moody already has a significant number of wildlife conflicts, adding more attractants would be counterintuitive to the work that’s been done,” Hunter wrote.

Clucks and growls: Most of Port Moody’s yearly 400 human-wildlife-conflict calls are due to black bears, according to a city staff report.

Council passed the measure without discussion.


Remembrance Day parades cancelled; residents asked to commemorate Nov. 11 with window displays, letters

While the traditional Nov. 11 parades are cancelled because of the pandemic, both Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam encouraged residents to find other ways to mark Remembrance Day.

“Our first concern is keeping our veterans and community safe, and we will continue to honour our veterans this Remembrance Day the best way we can,” stated Royal Canadian Legion Branch 133 president Drew Lydiard.

Heroes’ journey: How a Port Coquitlam writer helped turn the Vancouver Canucks into superheroes

photo supplied

The Vancouver Canucks needed a geek.

Like a beam of light rising above the ruins of a wasted city and calling to a hero, the message reached him in Port Coquitlam.

Well, maybe it was more like a message from a film industry colleague but still, impactful in its own way, explains writer Kody Zimmerman.

Vancouver Canucks creative director Mike Pohorly had an idea for a superhero-themed Canucks video to play on the big screen at Rogers Arena.

“And since I’m the resident geek he knows, he asked for my help,” Zimmerman says. “I dove right in.”

From Arkham Asylum to red kryptonite to the proper pronunciation of Mjolnir, Zimmerman was a perfect fit with the Canucks – well, almost.

“I don’t really follow the game,” he admits.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Case closed on shooting despite no arrests

The case of Nader Ahmadirad – a DoorDash driver who was shot in Burke Mountain earlier this year – has been closed, Coquitlam RCMP confirmed.

Ahmadirad was shot seven times after stopping in the 1400-block of Kingston Street on January 10.

Multiple suspects were seen leaving the area after the shooting. Officers later found a car on fire two kilometres south in the 3500 block of Gislason Avenue.

Communicating with CBC through an interpreter, Ahmadirad said the police had told him it was a case of mistaken identity.

“Unfortunately I have not seen justice,” Ahmadirad told CBC.

The case was closed after all investigative avenues were exhausted, according to Coquitlam RCMP spokesperson Const. Deanna Law.

“If any new information is forwarded to investigators, the file will be re-opened,” Law added.

Port Moody council approves western ‘gateway’ project

Despite some concerns about drivers getting in and out, Port Moody council unanimously approved a six-storey apartment/townhouse development at Clarke and St. Johns streets during Tuesday’s meeting.

Located on six vacant parcels, the project is a mix of 45 apartments and townhouses along with office space and a childcare expected to accommodate 79 children.

“That particular corner, as the western gateway into the city . . . needed to have something special,” explained Coun. Hunter Madsen.

While he didn’t object to the development, resident Jeff McLellan talked about the risk of car crashes, asking council to ensure drivers don’t make left turns out of the parkade.

“People come whipping around that corner [off Barnet Highway] . . . at obscene speeds at times and take that right,” McLellan said, noting a recent spate of near-misses after temporary construction fencing was erected in the area.

Bubbling sewage poses danger to Stoney Creek

Amid a storm that saw streams swell, phone service falter, and the Coquitlam Express get stuck in Kamloops, one local streamkeeper is deeply concerned about the effect on Stoney Creek.

George Kovacic provided photos and video of three manholes – two on North Road and another near Gilroy Place – all of which overflowed and one that foamed with murky water, sewage and what appears to be toilet paper.

Metro Vancouver’s sanity sewer trunk main – which also serves Port Moody and Burnaby – was backing up into Coquitlam’s sanitary sewer system, according to Coquitlam’s public works director Brad Lofgren.

“The result of this is sanitary sewage that is very highly diluted by rainwater coming out of the lowest point of the system, which happens to be a manhole on North Road by Oakdale Park that belongs to the City of Coquitlam,” Lofgren explained.

Coquitlam deployed vacuum trucks to suction up: “as much of the diluted sewage as possible” to keep it out of the creek, Lofgren added.

The creek appeared to be thriving following last summer’s fish kill. On Saturday, Kovacic’s son Luka and Kwikwetlem First Nation Couns. George Chaffee and John Peters spotted 11 coho salmon in the creek, Kovacic noted.

“Stoney Creek is currently full of spawning chum and coho salmon. It is also home to the endangered Nooksack Dace and other wildlife,” he noted.

Port Moody sets $2 drop-in fee for youth

While there are still some rates and charges to be determined for 2022, Port Moody council unanimously voted to institute a flat $2-fee for all youth drop-in programs.

Discussing a recent evening when the youth lounge was closed, resident Jeff McLellan noted the growing concern in the community about youth mental health, particularly amid the pandemic.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that the limited drop-in opportunities in our city exist for local youth,” McLellan said.

Those concerns were echoed by Coun. Steve Milani later in the meeting.

“A 14-year-old in my neighbourhood that I saw grow up passed away recently from an overdose,” Milani said. “This just drives this whole thing about keeping youth occupied to the forefront.”

Assuaging the feelings of isolation many youth suffer should be a top concern, Milani added.

“Not being able to come up with enough money to pay an entrance fee should not be an obstacle for those wanting to participate in an activity. That’s just not right,” Milani added.

New agreement promises two percent wage increase for Coquitlam CUPE workers

The City of Coquitlam and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 386 reached an agreement on a two-year deal that will see the city workers getting a two percent raise in 2021 and another two percent increase in 2022.

The collective agreement applies to nearly 1,500 employees represented by CUPE Local 386 and includes park, sewer, road maintenance workers, building inspectors and more.

The deal expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Panic shopping may worsen food supply line problems

Don’t panic: it only makes things worse.

Shoppers who jam-pack their shopping carts with every grocery they can lay their hands on may flip a supply problem into a demand problem, explained Feyza Sahinyazan, assistant professor of operations management at Beedie School of Business.

“The more empty shelves we see the more we tend to purchase whatever we can grab,” she said. “This would actually create a ripple effect throughout the supply chain and create more backlog and it will take longer to recover from.”

A substantial demand surge could likely not be met even with a well-functioning supply chain, Sahinyazan noted, emphasizing that we do not currently have a well-functioning supply chain.

“That is why it’s important to curb that immediate urge of hoarding or panic buying,” she said. “Especially the perishable food items because then the panic cycle becomes a vicious cycle.”

Global supply chain disruptions were already affecting Canada, according to Sahinyazan. The supply chain problems were also exacerbated by droughts, wildfires, and heat waves that limit local produce and push prices higher.

However, while we may see shortages and price hikes as well as fewer varieties at the grocery store, it’s important to remember that this is likely temporary, Sahinyazan said.

The storm is a reminder of the need for a more resilient supply chain in which B.C. relies on multiple sources from several geographic areas.

“We tend to take food for granted,” she said. “Appreciation of the food supply chain – how fragile how they are – is an important lesson to learn.”

Crossroads blues: Death, grief and finding a path through the pandemic

photo Jeremy Shepherd

In a room just off Barnet Highway we talk about kindness amid grief and a Christmas gala amid a pandemic. The conversation is pleasant, cheerful even – and then someone states the obvious.

“Guess what?” Jaimie Jeon asks.

Without leaving much time for a response, the Crossroads Hospice special events coordinator answers her own question.
“You’re going to die.”

It’s not exactly a joke even though Jeon, like everyone at the hospice society, is funny. It’s not a threat either, merely a statement of fact. Something that can’t be escaped. However, it can be acted upon.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Playing the long game: Port Coquitlam looks into Metro Vancouver’s 2050 vision

photo Jeremy Shepherd

In images: Metro Vancouver’s 2050 plan is a series of compact developments linked by sustainable transportation and surrounded by lush tree canopy.

In numbers: The plan projects Metro Vancouver’s population will rise from 2.75 million to 3.8 million residents by 2050. Those million extra residents are slated to be accommodated by 500,000 new places to live – half of which are expected to be apartments. Any expansion of single-detached housing is expected to be minimal as, “locations for housing are exhausted,” according to Metro Vancouver’s draft report.

What it means for the Tri-Cities: From 2020 to 2050, the population of the Tri-Cities is expected to swell to 396,500. That also means adding approximately 68,900 living units to the Tri-Cities, according to Metro Vancouver’s projections.

Port Coquitlam: 2050

Coquitlam critical of 2050 plan

Erase invaders: Volunteers pluck invasive species from Port Moody

photo supplied

A team of 39 volunteers yanked eight cubic metres – 8,000 litres – of invasive species from Rocky Point on Saturday, according to Lower Mainland Green Team program manager Ashton Kerr.

Ivy league: The pull was largely focused on English ivy and Himalayan blackberry, according to Kerr.

The program is intended to get people in nature while fostering greater social connection, Kerr stated in a release. Kerr also thanked the City of Port Moody for a financial contribution that made the event possible.

“We are introducing people to environmental action, as about 65 percent of our volunteers are doing these types of activities for the first time,” Kerr stated. “We need all hands on deck to address complex problems including climate change, which has been showing its effects vividly in the Lower Mainland recently.”

Coquitlam search and rescue manager spends two days in the valley

photo supplied

After 29 years in search and rescue, this was a first.

Al Hurley, a manger with Coquitlam Search and Rescue, spent most of the night and day working the operations centre for Emergency Management BC. That was Monday. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, he was asked to head into the Fraser Valley where an atmospheric river had flooded farmland, overwhelmed infrastructure, triggered mudslides and led to approximately 17,000 people being evacuated.

“I’ve been in Search and Rescue for 29 years,” he says. “I’ve never had to deal with a catastrophic flood.”

Hurley was one of a dozen Coquitlam SAR volunteers who headed into the valley.

Split between a helicopter team and a boat, the 12 volunteers faced a seemingly simple but daunting job.

“When people are stuck or injured we go and get ‘em whatever way we can: by boat, by land or by air,” Hurley explains.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Park by a fire hydrant, get soaked

Parking within five metres of a fire hydrant in Port Moody can cost you $500, following a unanimous vote from council Tuesday.

While staff suggested boosting the fine from $50 to $100, Coun. Steve Milani contended that a C-note failed to send a strong message.

Milani proposed a $150 fine. However, Coun. Amy Lubik upped the ante, suggesting a $500 fine, which council unanimously approved.

Mary Anne Cooper, ‘spirit of Port Moody,’ dies at 107

photo supplied

Mary Anne Cooper’s life was too big and movies were too small.

In the days before the premiere of The Spirit of Port Moody, director Eva Wunderman pondered the impossibility of chronicling a scientist/activist/educator/athlete; a woman who lived through more than a century of wars, pandemics, breakthroughs and setbacks and served as both a conscience and a beacon of good cheer for her community.

The movie could be good, it could even be great, but a documentary about Mary Anne Cooper could never be complete.

“There’s no way you can fit it into an hour,” Wunderman acknowledged.

Having spent three years spent trying to shoehorn Cooper’s remarkable life into a 64-minute film, Wunderman understood the stakes of telling that story.

“I have the whole community to answer to,” she noted.

Cooper died peacefully on Saturday evening. She was at home with family at her side, according to an announcement from friend Jeff McLellan.

“We have lost a dear friend, a remarkable, inspiring and certainly unforgettable woman who was a wise beyond her years,” McLellan wrote. “Community meant a lot to her and ours was very fortunate that she chose to call it home.”

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch


Port Coquitlam startup looks to take charge of EV battery business

photo supplied

They’re the answer to all our problems: a clean and efficient and quiet way to power our burgeoning crop of electric vehicles. But then they die.

Containing hundreds of cells and sometimes weighing around 1,000 pounds, lithium-ion batteries represent both an indispensable technology and a potentially horrendous environmental burden.

In Port Coquitlam, a new start-up is looking to shoulder a bit of that burden.

Founded by a quartet of Simon Fraser University engineering students in 2020, Moment Energy is looking to get a foothold in the fledgling industry of battery repurposing.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Port Coquitlam author makes it to Parliament

This courtroom sketch by Peter Lynde attempts to capture Steinhauser’s last moments. image supplied

In a castle in Ottawa there’s a story.

Nestled among 650,000 volumes in the Library of Parliament is a book, just added, about a sister.

In 1975, Mary Steinhauser was killed following a hostage-taking at B.C. Penitentiary where she worked as a classification officer. Since then, Margaret Franz has struggled to find the truth of what happened that day while searching for a way to protect her sister’s memory and legacy.

The result was Between Blade & Bullet, a non-fiction novel that takes the reader through the hostage taking and its aftermath as well as through Steinhauser’s life.

Franz said she was overjoyed to learn of the book’s inclusion in Parliament’s research centre.

“It has been quite a ride,” she said.

Between Blade & Bullet was added at the behest of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon

“He thought my book would be very well situated in the Library of Parliament,” Franz said. “It was his decision . . . that it was worth putting in.”

The library has been closed for renovations recently but Franz said she can’t wait to step inside to see where her story has been enshrined in Canadian history.

“I can’t wait until it opens,” she said. “I’m going to be there.”

Related: Deep Empathy, Steel Resolve: the Mary Steinhauser story

One injured in Westwood Plateau shooting

A sedan that was found in flames Saturday evening is suspected to be linked to the Chickadee Place shooting that left one man injured, according to police.

Police responded to a call of shots fired at 1600-Chickadee Place at approximately 4:41 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

At 4:57 p.m., Port Moody police were alerted to a silver, early 2000’s Infiniti G35 burning at Maude Court, approximately 5.6 kilometres away.

“The vehicle appeared to be abandoned and intentionally set on fire,” according to a release from Coquitlam RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Paige Kuz.

A silver sedan was seen leaving the 1600-block of Chickadee Place immediately following the shooting. Police are investigating a connection between the torched sedan and the Westwood Plateau shooting.

Out of ‘purgatory,’ Coronation Park plan moves toward public hearing

Following a recent deferral that left the developer “flabbergasted,” the proposed 2,665 Coronation Park proposal took a baby step forward Tuesday – despite some misgivings from the mayor.

Spanning nearly 15 acres and 59 properties (including one holdout), the project is set to include six towers, a drug store, a grocery store, office space, commercial retail and two daycares totalling about 9,500 square feet.

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Port Coquitlam pitches $11.4 million soccer pitch at Gates Park

image supplied

Gates Park may be getting a new synthetic soccer field, a plaza, spectator seating and a two-storey B.C. Soccer office – pending about $6 million in grant funding.

The city would chip in a maximum of $2.5 million with B.C. Soccer offering matching funds and PoCo soccer coming up with $500,000. The lion’s share of the funding – approximately $6 million – would have to come from grants with the construction schedule depending on when – and if – those grants are approved.

Throughout the year, Port Coquitlam would have guaranteed use of the field about 80 percent of the time with B.C. Soccer running programs, tournaments and other events for the remaining 20 percent, according to a release from the city.

“It would bring so many benefits to Port Coquitlam including access to a state-of-the-art sports field and amenities for kids and families, increased opportunities for our residents to stay active and healthy, and a new dynamic public space. The project would also support the revitalization of our downtown and deliver economic spinoffs for local businesses,” stated Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West in a press release.

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

The new strategy: A look at child care in Coquitlam

Two years after consultation began, Coquitlam unveiled and approved its new child care strategy earlier this month.

The strategy is going to “change people’s lives,” said Coun. Chris Wilson.

Coquitlam’s new direction should help make child care more available, “And hopefully through the federal and provincial government, a lot more affordable,” he added.

There are approximately 19,095 children in Coquitlam, based on 2016 census data. In 2019, there were 4,694 licensed child care spaces, according to a city staff report – approximately one space for every four children.

The Child Care Partnership Strategy, which was unanimously approved by council, outlines several strategies, including providing incentives to leverage the development sector to create more child care.

“The framework is there. We can hit developers over the head,” said Coun. Brent Asmundson.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

Coquitlam to allow maximum of six pot shops starting in 2022

After considering a maximum of 10 shops earlier this year, Coquitlam council unanimously approved a framework Monday evening that will allow up to six cannabis stores in the city beginning in 2022.

Prospective pot shop proprietors are permitted to apply to the city between Jan. 4 and 14 for a zoning amendment.

The city is planning to consider a maximum of two shops in City Centre and one each in Burquitlam, Lougheed, Austin Heights and Maillardville.

The city previously considered a maximum of two stores in each neighbourhood. However, the reduction from 10 to six shops was made to allow for a “gradual introduction to cannabis retail” in Coquitlam, according to a city staff report.

Coquitlam’s cannabis framework is set to be reviewed in two years. At that point, council can reconsider the number of pot shops, explained Coun. Dennis Marsden.

“Is ten the right number?” he asked. “Maybe you just wipe that out and just say, ‘let the market prevail.’”

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch.

Close-knit group goes far with fundraiser

photo supplied

It starts with the soft click and clack of knitting needles around the fireplace at the Astoria Retirement Residence in Port Coquitlam.

Rows of stitches turn into hats, mittens, blankets and toys. Those knitted creations go to long-term care residents at Fellburn Care Centre and to Nurses Without Borders to help children coming out of surgery.

And after selling those items at November’s craft fair and auction, the Astoria Knitting Circle also raised $1,795 for Tri-Cities Transition Society.

Fremont Connector could link Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam by 2024

image supplied

While we may still be a couple years from shovels in the ground, a preliminary design has been approved for a 4.7-kilometre road linking Port Coquitlam with northeast Coquitlam.

Beginning near the eastern edge of Burke Mountain at Victoria, the two-lane arterial would snake south toward Lougheed Highway and the Mary Hill Bypass via Lincoln Avenue, Devon Road, Prairie Avenue and Burns Road. The road, which roughly follows the contours of the Pitt River, is also slated to include a path for pedestrians and cyclists.

Read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch.

Third sinkhole filled in near Mary Hill Bypass

The spate of sinkholes around Mary Hill Bypass have been attributed to “ground settlement” following the completion of work meant to facilitate the Trans Mountain pipeline project, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Three sinkholes have so far been found and repaired. The first sinkhole was reported earlier this month.

While lanes are now open, the area is being monitored using ground penetrating radar.

No additional ground settlement has been observed, according to MOTI.

Pipeline Road tower to include market, non-market rental

The 25-storey highrise earmarked for 1175 Pipeline Road is set to include 57 market rental units and nine non-market rental units for the life of the building, following a unanimous vote by Coquitlam council Monday.

The mixed-use building is set to include 202 units in total with 136 strata units.

The passage of Monday’s housing agreement bylaw clarifies that the rental units cannot be stratified and that short-term rentals such as Airbnbs are prohibited.

The highrise is slated to replace a 1983-era building comprised of 35 purpose-built rentals on the site.

School board urges strata to take action as sewage stalemate slides into 2022

In an effort to end a four-year sewage standoff that saw effluent leaking onto Eagle Mountain Middle School property, School District #43 held a special board meeting Tuesday evening.

The trustees unanimously passed a motion intended to clear the way for Anmore Green Estates to connect their private wastewater system to the regional sewer system in 2022.

The meeting was meant to function as a “demonstration of good faith” from the school board the strata corporation, according to a report written by school board secretary-treasurer Chris Nicolls.

“We’re willing and eager to work with Anmore Green Estates once these details have been worked out,” said board trustee Barb Hobson.

Click here to read the story at Tri-Cities Dispatch

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