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

Barring a major change in zoning, Port Coquitlam may fall short of regional affordable housing goals

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.


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How Port Coquitlam fits in and where it doesn’t

Regionally, the plan is for 40 percent of new units to be concentrated in dense, urban centres. However, hitting that target will be challenging for Port Coquitlam, according to a city staff report. For instance, the regional plan outlines the Lougheed Highway corridor as a major transit hub. However, city staff are less enthusiastic about putting housing and job growth along the corridor, particularly due to the constraints of rail yards to the south.

A spot with potential: The Westwood/Woodland lands may be a more appropriate place for a major transit growth corridor, according to staff.

Lack of affordable rental

Regionally the target is for 15 percent of the new housing in compact developments and in transit hubs to be affordable rental. However, hitting that 15 percent target, “would be particularly challenging for the city to contribute towards,” according to a Port Coquitlam staff report.

“To come close to the regional target, the city would need to significantly increase its inclusionary zoning requirements (which require 10 percent of bonus density to be in the form of non-market rental housing), or provide municipal lands at no cost or nominal leases,” the report stated.


The city should be advocating for a SkyTrain station in Port Coquitlam, according to Coun. Nancy McCurrach. In terms of cutting emissions, the city should also have infrastructure to support e-bikes, she added.

“If we’re trying to have more people actually not in their cars, then we need to be able to supply secure stations for expensive bicycles,” McCurrach said.

How many trees fit in Port Coquitlam?

Council seemed somewhat nonplussed by Metro Vancouver’s goal to expand tree canopy from 32 to 40 percent by 2050.

While Coun. Laura Dupont said she was “really pleased” to see such a bold goal, Coun. Steve Darling suggested the target should be fine-tuned for each community.

“If only a certain number of cities are going to even be able to get close to that, what’s the point of it?” he asked.

Coun. Darrell Penner was similarly skeptical, noting the city doesn’t exercise authority over railyards and agricultural lands. The lack of city-specific goals are indicative of a larger issue, according to Penner.

“We’ve felt a little disenfranchised from Metro,” Penner said. “It seems like the ship’s sailing on autopilot.”

Wait until next year

The plan is scheduled to be brought forward for approval in early 2022.

Related: Coquitlam critical of Metro Vancouver 2050 plan

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