Safety and open spaces in Riley Park

Riley Park Image
 A playground and lots of open recreation space is part of the plan for Riley Park on Burke Mountain. Photograph City of Coquitlam website for Riley Park

Safety measures such as secure garbage cans and clearing trees and bush are part of a $3 million budget for a new park on Burke Mountain, to avoid run-ins with bears.

Riley Park a 3.5 acre neighbourhood recreation area will be located at the corner of Burke Village Promenade. The city is holding a public information session on March 29 about the park, that will be completed in 2018-2019.

“The number one typical draw for bears is food, right. All of our garbage cans are bear proof,” said Andre Isakov, a media contact at Coquitlam’s parks, recreation and culture services.

All garbage cans in the Coquitlam have a wildlife-resistant lock, that the city designed and manufactures.

In 2016, Coquitlam residents placed 1,927 calls to conservation officers about bears in the city. Isakov said in planning Riley Park, measures were taken to ensure the public is safe from wild animals.

“We make sure there’s really good clear sight lines so that people can actually observe everything that happening in the playground. That’s important for wildlife as well as for safety.”

City crews will cut down trees and clear bush for picnic and play areas but also to give park users a clear view to the forest, to avoid run-ins with wildlife.

“For this park there’s going to be a lot of open space. There’s also a lot of demand in general for neighbourhood parks just general grass space whether it’s for picnicking whether it’s for Frisbee or to kick a ball,” Isakov said.

New trees will be planted as part of the park’s development to replace the number of trees that are cut down.

“That’s part of the process of putting in a park in an undeveloped site,” Isakov said.

Coquitlam has 55 neighbourhood parks, recreational and green spaces that are within a five to 10-minute walking distance of homes they serve.



Coquitlam under bear watch

Bear pic
Bears walk through a forested area near a neighbourhood in Port Moody. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Fulton

This article was originally published in The Voice.

Coquitlam has begun its annual campaign to remind its residents to be “bear smart” because bears will soon wake up from hibernation and wander through neighbourhoods in search of food.

The city’s campaign, which includes social media, advertising and door-to-door canvassing, is in its 10th year.

But many residents still disobey bylaws that prohibit garbage cans and green waste bins from being placed on the street the night before designated days for pickup.

“Garbage is the number one attractant,” said Criag Hodge, a Coquitlam city councillor. “I think we’ve made good progress through education and enforcement but there’s no question that more needs to be done.”

Coquitlam has made changes to its garbage collection and increased enforcement of it Solid Waste Bylaw. Residents are fined $500 if they feed bears and that includes when a bear knocks over their garbage can and eats waste that falls out. The city issued 1,643 warnings and 315 tickets in 2016.

David Karn, a conservation officer at the ministry of environment conservation office service, said officers work with the city to manage bears in neighbourhoods.

“We have set traps in residential areas through the city to catch bears,” Karn said.

According to statistics compiled by the city, in 2016, conservation officers received 1,927 calls which was almost double the 973 calls received in 2015. Conservation officers shot 15 bears last year, a higher number than usual, said a report presented to council last February.

Ticket Stats.jpg

The number of calls to conservation officers increased after a bear attacked a young girl last August.

“There was a girl who was attacked by a bear in the Tri-Cities last year so that brought a lot of awareness to the bear in the area,” said Julie Kanya, Coquitlam’s urban wildlife coordinator.

The incident happened in Port Coquitlam near the Coquitlam River and Karn said city bears typically cross the boundaries of the Tri-Cities.

Coquitlam is a growing urban area and in Westwood Plateau and on Burke Mountain new development is replacing forest areas.

I think our biggest challenge isn’t so much that we’re displacing the bears,” Hodge said. “It’s that we’re drawing the bears into our neighbourhoods and that’s why we’re working so heavily to deal with bear attractants, garbage and so on.”

The city operates its campaign through social media, print, broadcast, door-to-door canvassing and participates in large public events to do more outreach to new residents especially.

“We brought in a number of initiatives over the last couple of years to try to reduce human and wildlife conflict,” Hodge said.

Development for Coquitlam Central Station wins challenge

A proposed design for development at Coquitlam Central Station, created by students at UBC, won the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Challenge yesterday.

The NAIOP real estate challenge has been held in Canada and the U.S. for 14 years and the Vancouver chapter hosted the competition for the first time, this year.

The team of eight undergraduate students who worked on the design was inspired by transit oriented developments, TOD’s, in Whistler and Metro Vancouver.

“Our team really wanted to enhance the pedestrian environment and encourage transit use because the [Evergreen Line], West Coast Express and bus loop were all one site. So that was the perfect place for a mixed-use community. We were also inspired by pedestrian environment, Whistler Village and also the mix of uses in other TOD’s in the area such as Marine Gateway, the future site for Brentwoood and other TOD’s in Metro Vancouver,” said Briana Mussatto whose focus was the design and planning of the project.


Photo submitted courtesy of Briana Mussatto

A 55-storey building at the corners of Lougheed Highway and Barnet Highway was another key feature in the design, received a nod from Coquitlam’s mayor, Richard Stewart.

“The Mayor of Coquitlam really liked our statement tower idea and how it was a mixed-use high density community right at that site. It is the place to have a signature Coquitlam building.”

TransLink sponsored the challenge and the students developed their design according to the transit company’s preferences.

Mussatto said her role was “to design a product for TransLink that would meet all of their objectives as well as potentially [being] approved by [Coquitlam city] council.”

The students who are majoring in real estate, are in their final year at the UBC Sauder School of Business and worked on the challenge while they still carried their regular course load.


Left to Right: Scott Marshall, Winston Liang, Stephanie Yeargin, Winnie Ng, Andrei Burlacu, Briana Mussatto, Ryan Weafer, Guang Yow Low. Photo submitted courtesy of Briana Mussatto

The students consulted Coquitlam’s planning documents that are online to take into account the city’s plans for neighbourhood development.

Mentors in the planning and architecture sectors in Metro Vancouver were on hand throughout the project.

We worked with many mentors in the community that helped us put this together. We kept in contact with many students that graduated from UBC that are planners as well as just contacts in the industry we have. I don’t believe the architect mentors graduated from UBC but they definitely do have ties to Sauder,” Mussatto said.

Mussatto and the other members of the team applied to participate in the challenge and were selected by a Tsur Somervill, director of the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

“I really wanted to be apart of the competition because I heard it was one of the best things to do while at university and it was. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in school,” Mussatto said.

Parks to enjoy and protect the environment

Neighbourhood, community and city parks in Coquitlam offer different amenities for residents to enjoy near their homes and across the city. Google Images/Photo

Different types of parks for different kinds of enjoyment and keeping up with growing neighbourhoods, that’s the goal behind green spaces in Coquitlam.

“We’re in constant process of developing new parks, it’s based on growth. We have new parks that are either being planned or being built right now across the city,” said Kathleen Reinheimer, Coquitlam parks manager.

Neighbourhood, community and city parks offer Coquitlam residents different of experiences because of the amenities and activities they include. Neighbourhood parks are within walking distance of homes, community parks are farther away from homes and have more amenities than neighbourhood parks and city parks, such as Town Centre Park, offer a range of activities that attract people from across the urban area.

As neighbourhoods grow, the city looks to expand neighbourhood parks and waits for owners of property that can turned into park land, to sell their real estate. That’s what the city is doing at Cottonwood Park.

Reinheimer said, “We make a bid based on what our assessment says it is. Generally the property owner does their own assessment independently and then it’s negotiated. It’s a voluntary sale based on current land value. The city does not expropriate.”

Coquitlam’s trails wind through forests that allow resident to enjoy the natural surroundings. City of Coquitlam/Photo

The city grows indigenous plants in its parks when possible.

“We can’t put a native tree on a street scape because there isn’t room for a big cedar to develop or a big Douglas Fir to develop. It’s about finding the right plant for the condition and delivering an experience for the community,” Reinheimer said.

A 103-kilometre trail system that includes Lakeside Loop that winds around Como Lake Park and interlocking trails in Mundy Park & Riverview Forest Trails is part of the city’s protection of creeks and streams in natural areas and forests for the community to enjoy.

“It’s about ensuring we end up with sustainable and healthy ecosystems,” Reinheimer said.

Better neighbourhoods in the future

City of Coquiltam/Photo

A new study will help planners to make decisions about land use and transportation in Metro Vancouver. As a result, city planners in Coquitlam will be better able to build  neighbourhoods that have services residents need, within walking distances of their homes.

The study will draw on data in the My Health My Community Survey and the BC Generations Study. Pulling together the data from those surveys will cost $360,000 and the cost is being funded through a grant as well as funds from the City of Vancouver contingent on matched funds from its partner municipalities.

“The study is important for the information it will contribute to all levels of government,” said Heather McNell, a regional planner at Metro Vancouver

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart who is also the chairperson of the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee, said building communities in Coquitlam that have the types of services, such as a grocery shop, that residents need can present the challenge of finding a retailer to operate in an area.

“It’s really hard for us to mandate commercial activities in areas where planning doesn’t over ride the market. The market sometimes says ‘that’s not a viable place for a corner store.’ And we know if we have complete communities, one that is walkable to amenities like shopping, it will be better,” Stewart said.

“Walkability, how far residents have to walk for services such as a grocery store, doctor’s office and bus stop, and land use and transportation are essential to complete communities,” McNell said.

Stewart said building complete communities is more possible for large development projects.

“We certainly can do that when we do larger scale planning, do a transit-oriented development strategy where we put that critical mass of housing and therefore the market for retail, small-scale retail, all in one place, as we’re doing with Burquitlam Station,” Stewart said.

Burquitlam Station on the Evergreen Line is a major transit hub where new highrises and townhouses have been built. The City of Coquitlam has developed the Burquitlam Neighbourhood Plan.

Stewart added that for most of Coquitlam, “producing fine-grained services that would allow everyone to be within walking distance of their services, we’re not there yet. And I would like to see us get there.”