COQUITLAM, B.C., Feb. 23, 2021 – Community input will guide the City on creating more affordable housing, sustainable transportation and livable neighbourhoods in Southwest Coquitlam.
In one of Coquitlam’s most responded-to public engagement processes to date, more than 2,267 people participated in a survey and thousands more viewed online content in fall 2020 during Phase 1 of the Southwest Housing Review (SWHR).
The project focuses on the 38-square-kilometre area south of Barnet Highway with some of Coquitlam’s most established and primarily single-family neighbourhoods. Continuing until 2022, the five-phase planning process aims to create more affordable housing, sustainable transportation and active corridors, and livable neighbourhoods for families.
Finding New Ways to Consult the Community
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, more people actively participated in the SWHR’s consultation process than for any other City initiative to date. The centrepiece for the public engagement campaign has been the interactive public engagement website www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/swhr, which offers a variety of feedback tools and project information.
Along with the 2,267 survey respondents, nearly 7,000 visits were logged for the project and engagement webpages combined, and the project video was viewed nearly 7,900 times. As part of its outreach, the City mailed more than 34,000 postcards and letters to Southwest Coquitlam residents, reached nearly 12,000 people on social media, held eight virtual information sessions, made presentations to five Council advisory committees and three external stakeholder groups, and advertised widely online, in print, on transit and in outdoor spaces.
What the Community Said
The objective of this first phase of community engagement was to introduce the SWHR, describe the four main components, and hear from stakeholders on their interests and concerns.
Feedback was collected on each of the four main work areas which include:
- reviewing land use in six identified neighbourhood pockets;
- developing strategies to create livable and vibrant street corridors;
- encouraging more smaller-scale and affordable housing options; and
- creating a vision of future single-family neighbourhoods that respects the history of the area and meets the the needs of both current and future residents.
Overall, the feedback showed:
- Strong support for family-oriented housing, particularly ground-oriented options such as townhomes;
- The importance of mitigating the potential negative effect of development on nearby homes, including parking, traffic, construction impacts and inappropriate scale and fit;
- A desire for easy access to a wide range of amenities, including parks, recreation facilities, shops, restaurants and other services;
- A general preference for more active lifestyles and improved pedestrian infrastructure;
- A desire to preserve green spaces and tree canopy, particularly mature trees;
- A general concern about housing unaffordability and the need to both increase housing supply and ensure new housing won’t make neighbourhoods less affordable; and
- Strong opinions both for and against Housing Choices options such as carriage homes and other infill development within existing single-family neighbourhoods. This suggests that different neighbourhoods may need different considerations and approaches during this phase of the SWHR process.
An infographic summarizing the feedback can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/swhr or the City’s public engagement website www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/swhr.
SWHR Approach Adjusted Based on Feedback
The City has used the plentiful and varied feedback from Phase 1 to focus its direction and approach for upcoming phases of the SWHR, including:
- Developing preliminary land-use concepts for the three neighbourhood pockets with the greatest support (Whiting-Appian, Miller-Grant and Guilby-Grayson in the Burquitlam-Lougheed area) in Phase 2, and planning for further discussion about the approach for the three other pockets (Charland-Joyce, Blue Mountain-Quadling and Austin-Poirier);
- Creating a more unique, neighbourhood-centred approach to planning for housing options and infill development during the latter phases of the review;
- Providing clear options for demonstrating overall opposition to development; and
- Looking for tools or opportunities that would appeal to younger demographics to get them involved in the SWHR process.
Next Steps for the SWHR
In the coming weeks, the City will begin working on the next phases of the project. To sign up for updates or learn more about the project, visit www.coquitlam.ca/swhr and www.letstalkcoquitlam.ca/swhr.
Upcoming work during Phase 2 will also include development of a vision statement and series of guiding principles for development along major corridors, based on the feedback received.
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