Aug 03, 2017 Return to Headlines

Austin Heights Update Aims to Revitalize, Protect Character

by Michelle Frilund |

COQUITLAM, BC, Aug. 3, 2017 – An update to the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Plan this week will encourage the revitalization of one of Coquitlam’s established commercial centres while setting limits to retain its character.

On Monday, Coquitlam Council amended the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw to introduce provisions for height and density (a property’s buildable floor area) for the Austin Heights neighbourhood centre – the commercial area along Austin Avenue and part of Ridgeway Avenue, between Blue Mountain and Gatensbury streets. 

Based on an in-depth staff review, the changes lifted a six-year-old moratorium on high-rise development in Austin Heights, while introducing height and density limits intended to reduce building shadowing, protect privacy and views, respect the neighbourhood’s character, and support affordable housing. Specific measures include:

  • Limiting building heights in the area to 25 storeys, while retaining the four-storey limit on the Rona site and the area south of Austin between Marmont and Gatensbury;
  • Requiring more space between high-rises (35 metres rather than 25) and smaller building footprints (600 square metres rather than 700) than in other neighbourhood centres;
  • Reducing the density of the neighbourhood centre by 20 per cent, while allowing developers to add some density in exchange for contributions to the City’s Affordable Housing Reserve Fund for affordable housing projects; and
  • Introducing design guidelines, such as requiring parking and loading zones to be designed to minimize impact on the street and pedestrian environment.

The smaller high-rise footprints and wider spacing between buildings recognizes Austin Heights as a local neighbourhood centre located further from rapid transit. 

The update is expected to spur redevelopment of Austin Heights while providing streetscape improvements, such as plazas and wider sidewalks, that won’t occur without redevelopment due to the lack of available public land. The overall intended result is a walkable, thriving neighbourhood centre that retains the area’s character and attracts both businesses and residents to Austin Heights.  

At the same time, the revitalization is not anticipated to supplant the lower-cost rental housing nearby. No other changes were made to the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Plan, which was adopted in 2011 after more than two years of planning and extensive public consultation. That Plan retains the pre-existing land-use designations and zoning, which apply to the existing apartment area in Austin Heights’ residential areas.

The City will also implement a commercial tenant relocation policy to assist businesses who lose their rental spaces due to redevelopment.

Public consultation for the height and density review included letters mailed to area property owners, tenants and stakeholders (such as the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association, School District #43, Metro Vancouver and TransLink), along with newspaper advertising, a dedicated website and a public hearing. 

More information can be found on the Austin Heights Neighbourhood Centre Density and Height Review webpage, www.coquitlam.ca/ahdr.


Media contact:
Andrew Merrill
Manager Community Planning
City of Coquitlam