Port Coquitlam to borrow $25M to redevelop downtown

file photo Jeremy Shepherd

Nobody can afford to buy land without getting a loan these days.

Port Coquitlam is set to borrow $25.2 million in an effort to snap up key properties in the city’s downtown, following a unanimous vote from council Tuesday.

“Purchasing land is one of the smartest investments we can make,” Mayor Brad West said at the meeting.


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Besides bringing taxpayers a “strong return on our investment,” the land should also make life better for residents, West said.

“When the city is able to purchase land that really becomes a public good for our community,” he said.

If all goes according to plan, the city would borrow the money for a five-year term from the Municipal Finance Authority.

The city is slated to pay 5.4 percent interest – approximately $112,000 per month – with that money coming out of Port Coquitlam’s land sale reserve.

While exact timing is not yet available, the city’s plan is to repay the loan: “as soon as possible in order to minimize interest costs,” Coun. Dean Washington explained in an email to the Dispatch.

Port Coquitlam currently has about $3.93 million in its land sale reserve.

“We do have a plan to get this repaid relatively quickly,” Coun. Darrell Penner assured residents during Tuesday’s meeting.

The application is set to be in front of the MFA in a few days. City staff are scheduled to be in front of council this fall with detailed information about sites that could be purchased.

When we’re downtown

The $25-million loan is an extension of the city’s plan to buy downtown properties.

The city owns PoCo Bowl, the former Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre on Shaughnessy, SportsX on Elgin Avenue, as well as the corner of Shaughnessy and McAllister, and the corner of Shaughnessy and Elgin.

The city also has about 15,000 square feet at 2245 McAllister Ave. and another 8,000 square feet at Wilson Avenue and Leigh Square. Each site is earmarked for future commercial space.

The plan is to build both: “an attractive, welcoming destination for visitors and residents and an economic driver for the whole community,” according to Washington.

Rather than relying on developer incentives, city ownership will, “ensure public control over how the downtown redevelops,” Washington added.

 City-owned properties are intended to be: “mixed-use buildings with both commercial and residential spaces,” according to a release from the city.

Development will likely not occur “until at least 2026,” according to the city.

The authority

The Municipal Finance Authority provides a pool of cash to help municipalities borrow money or finance projects.

The MFA’s 40 members are elected officials representing 28 regional districts across the province.

Mayor Brad West and Anmore Mayor John McEwen each serve as an MFA trustee. Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti serves as West’s alternate.


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