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Coquitlam reaches out on plans for a new Burke Mountain neighbourhood

Plans for a semi-rural area at the far end of Coquitlam’s Coast Meridian Road — and acres of forested land around it — will be up for discussion at virtual public meetings this and next week.

Plans for a semi-rural area at the far end of Coquitlam’s Coast Meridian Road — and acres of forested land around it — will be up for discussion at virtual public meetings this and next week.

If approved by city council next year, the proposed Hazel-Coy neighbourhood would be the fifth enclave for the city’s northeast region, bringing in:

  • 2,750 more residents 
  • 950 more homes
  • 100 developable acres

Hazel-Coy would also include a small commercial hub, a school site and plenty of access to outdoor recreation.

The concept, which is part of the Northwest Burke Vision that was adopted by council in 2017, has already piqued significant interest; earlier this year, city staff heard from area homeowners, developers and stakeholders such as School District 43 (SD43), BC Parks and TORCA (Tri-Cities Off-Road Cycling Association).

And last Thursday night, municipal staff also hosted an online session exclusively for teens — with volunteer credits awarded to encourage youth to have their say about the development while also weighing the region’s housing needs.

Among those who voiced their views were members of the Coquitlam Youth Council and Centennial secondary students in the Environmental Studies Academy.

Hayley Melvin, the ES 11/12 Academy co-ordinator, said 15 students wrote letters to the city “because they are concerned about the negative environmental impact that the proposed development will have on the local ecosystems,” she told Tri-City News.  

“When natural habitat is taken away, we tend to see more wild animals in ‘urban’ areas, and this year alone, several cougars were euthanized. As cougars are a keystone species, they are essential to the ecosystem near this development. This is one of several reasons my class was motivated to join the conversation.”

As well, Coquitlam residents living at the top of Oxford Street also expressed concerns about extending the arterial road north, as well as community safety, said senior planner Kristen Elkow, the project lead for the Hazel-Coy plan.

This month, in a bid to get more feedback, the city also mailed out postcards to nearby Burke Mountain residents to encourage them to participate in shaping Hazel-Coy.

“We want to see if the perspectives have changed since the city adopted the Northwest Burke Vision in 2017,” she said of the blueprint that includes the new neighbourhoods of Hazel-Coy, Burke Mountain Creek, Riverwalk and Goodyear Creek.

“It’s important to hear from Burke Mountain residents overall, especially those who are new to the area.”

Currently, 24 residents call Hazel-Coy home and all are on septic systems. 

While the biggest private parcels are held by Wesbild and the Infinity Group, Elkow said, the city owns two southern properties in the 175-acre neighbourhood, which is bounded by:

  • Hyde Creek to the south and east
  • the sloped Coquitlam River escarpment to the west
  • BC Parks’ Pinecone Burke Mountain provincial park to the north

According to the city, the neighbourhood plan will set out policies that will define what may be built and where infrastructure is needed — i.e., extending Oxford Street, updating the Hyde Creek crossing and installing a water reservoir at higher elevations.

Because of the steep conditions — up to 20% in some places — the topography will be a challenge especially as new roads are designed, Elkow said.

However, opening the area up presents new opportunities for nature lovers including a potential trail head to access Crystal Falls, which is on provincial land. “It’s something that’s on our radar,” Elkow said of Crystal Falls, of which the southern trail is now closed as it crosses private property.

Community planning manager Genevieve Bucher said city staff are eager for more public input. “There are a lot of stories to learn, and there is a lot of history about this site,” she said. “We want to hear from all voices of Coquitlam.”

Feedback from the public sessions will be part of the draft Hazel-Coy neighbourhood plan that will go before city council by mid-2022.

If OK’d, Hazel-Coy will be the fifth neighbourhood for Burke after Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek, Smiling Creek and Partington Creek. 

And after the Hazel-Coy planning is done, the city will move forward with the other three northwest Burke neighbourhoods, in phases:

  • Burke Mountain Creek
    • Located east of the Coquitlam River escarpment
    • The city proposes 1,750 new homes for 5,200 people on 175 developable acres
  • Riverwalk
    • Located west of the Coquitlam River escarpment and east of the Coquitlam River
    • The city envisions 450 new homes for 1,400 people on 50 developable acres
  • Goodyear Creek
    • Located on the west side of the Coquitlam River
    • The city plans 450 new homes for 1,300 people on 50 developable acres

The city is planning 50,000 residents on the lower slopes of Burke Mountain.

HAVE YOUR SAY!

Virtual information sessions will be held on Zoom: 

  • Saturday, June 26: 10:30 a.m. to noon
  • Tuesday, June 29: 7 to  8:30 p.m.

Register via www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/hazelcoy

If you can’t make the meetings, fill out the online survey between June 26 and July 16.  For more details, email hazelcoy@coquitlam.ca or call 604-927-3400.