Coquitlam council approves nine-tower, 4,000-unit downtown project

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It’s towering, it’s transformative, and it’s moving ahead.

Council unanimously approved a project on Monday evening that would put nine towers – including a hotel – and 4,000 units of housing on the old Chrysler dealership over the next 10 years.

Reaction to the project was somewhat muted, with only two residents – both of whom were in support – weighing in during Monday’s public hearing.

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After having lived in Coquitlam for more than 50 years, resident Butch Bailey praised the engineering including the new road that essentially runs down the middle of the project.

“This is really a no-brainer for the city to get on board and approve this project,” Bailey told council.

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The project should be attract businesses, create jobs, provide a much-needed hotel and conference centre, and help “set the stage” for Coquitlam’s downtown, said Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO Leslie Courchesne.

With towers ranging to 54 storeys, the project represents a huge but necessary change, according to Mayor Richard Stewart.

“If we don’t change our children will have to move to Calgary,” Stewart said.

In order to accommodate the region’s increasing population and fostering affordability, it’s essential that cities concentrate densities around SkyTrain stations, Stewart said.

“This is where we will have to have enormous change so that other neighbourhoods won’t change as dramatically,” he said.

Situated over seven lots at Pheasant Street, Christmas Way and Lougheed Highway, the project is expected to generate between 1,200 and 1,700 jobs.

In some respects, the projects defines the direction in which the city is moving, according to Coun. Dennis Marsden.

“Construction is disruptive. We need to see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is when this is finished we’ve got 1,700 people working in our city that weren’t here before.”

The unit mix includes 3,024 condos and 1,046 rental units. Of the rental units, 893 would be market rentals and 153 would be offered at below market rates.

While she supported the development, Coun. Trish Mandewo underscored the importance of providing those rental units without delay.

“Rental housing is important to our city,” Mandewo said, adding that any delay “would not be OK with me.”

Both Couns. Steve Kim and Teri Towner emphasized the location – approximately 100 metres from SkyTrain – as being ideal.

“This is exactly what a transit-oriented development should be,” Kim said. “To me, this is revitalization at its finest.”

Acknowledging that some observers may anticipate gridlock as a result of the development, Coun. Brent Asmundson noted the location, the accessibility of car-share programs and the tendency of some young people to not buy cars.

“You’ve not going to have the traffic chaos that people expect,” Asmundson said. “It’s going to be far less.”

At full build-out, many services will be available within the development, Asmundson added.

The project is “fantastic,” according to Hodge, who lauded the inclusion of a27 storey office/hotel tower with 150 hotel rooms.

“People in this community I think recognize this is something that we need,” Hodge said.

The project, which has an estimated construction value of $1.2 billion, requires one more formal vote from council.

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