Revitalizing Our Downtown

Major upgrades are coming to Leigh Square, Veterans Park and surrounding streets and public areas in 2023 as part of Port Coquitlam’s downtown revitalization efforts.

The City is working to bring new life and energy to its iconic downtown, a charming commercial zone and a vibrant hub for arts, culture and festivals.

Construction of Veterans Park, Leigh Square and other elements of the Civic Centre project are anticipated to commence in early winter 2023. Watch this page for updates.

Please note that due to the unpredictability of the construction market and supply chain issues, some projects initially planned for delivery in 2022 have been moved to 2023. This will protect public funds and allow the City to take advantage of additional potential grant opportunities. See Project Timelines below for details.

Project Overview

The Civic Centre redevelopment includes Veterans Park, Leigh Square, an extension of Donald Pathway, and other City-owned spaces and roads in the area bounded by McAllister Avenue, Shaughnessy Street and Wilson Avenue and Donald Street.

The vision is for a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, safe and welcoming commercial and residential zone, with strategic redevelopment of key properties and public spaces that will retain the area’s charm and heritage while supporting thriving businesses and attracting people to the downtown to live, shop, socialize and celebrate.

Based on public feedback and public space best practices, the open-concept design intends to:

  • Attract families and people of all ages to the downtown and give them a reason to stay, whether it be through improved event space, performances, public art or park space,
  • Improve safety, visual sightlines and connectivity, and
  • Create an atmosphere that is fun, lively and green, with lighting for night-time enjoyment.
Civic Centre Map 2021
Additional Planning and Consultation

In addition to the planning work related to the Downtown Action Plan, other planning for the downtown has included:

  • 2003 Leigh Square development study – concept of an outdoor community “living room,” strong visual connections, a greenway and other enhancements in the Civic Centre.
  • 2016 Cultural Plan (Imagine Port Coquitlam) – saw Leigh Square as a place for special events, experiencing art, visiting with family and friends, and connecting to civic services.
  • 2020-2021 Preliminary design concept – based on the above plans.
  • 2021-2022 – Detailed design of the Civic Centre redevelopment.
    • Read the Mar. 1, 2022 Staff Report to Council on design approval for Veterans Park.

Public consultation has included:

  • The various planning initiatives referenced above included a significant public consultation component, including public surveys, workshops, a Downtown Action Plan Advisory Group. The City has also undertaken direct engagement of stakeholders including area property owners, residents, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 133, arts groups and Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Society, and will continue to do so throughout the process. The public and stakeholder input to date was instrumental in shaping the vision for the downtown that is guiding the City’s revitalization initiatives.
  • The City collects public feedback each year through an annual budget survey to assess the community’s current priorities. The 2021 survey included an open-ended question about what improvements the public wants for downtown public spaces to provide more opportunities to gather and celebrate. The most common theme was to see more community celebrations and events, while a significant number wanted improved traffic flow and multi-use travel opportunities. This feedback is reflected in the planned outcomes for the revitalization work.
  • Public feedback opportunity on the Civic Centre concept from Mar. 10 to 24, 2021.
  • The City has kept the public informed of its progress on revitalizing the downtown through information in the media, the City website and publications, social media and other means.
  • Additional feedback opportunities will be provided as the planning progresses.
Enhancements
  • Opening up Veterans Park to the street, pathways and Leigh Square, and relocating the cenotaph and plaza to a more accessible and prominent location in the park to enable more significant Remembrance Day events,
  • Expanding Leigh Square into an open-concept festival space for events and day-to-day social use with more than double the current space and capacity, with changes including relocating the bandshell to back onto City Hall, and adding a water feature, improved lighting and variety of ground-level and tiered seating,
  • Expanding Donald Pathway north from Wilson Avenue to weave through the Civic Centre and downtown,
  • Completed: Reconstructing McAllister Avenue into a distinctive streetscape design for walking, socializing, shopping and celebrating.
Veterans Park

Located in the heart of downtown Port Coquitlam, the updated Veterans Park will feature an open concept design that creates safe and welcoming spaces for visitors and residents of all ages to stroll and relax.

Site preparation began in March 2022.  Construction will take place from early winter to spring 2023 in conjunction with other Civic Centre improvements.

The design includes:

  • A large circular central plaza featuring a prominent new location for the cenotaph
  • Various types of seating and open lawn areas
  • New flagpoles and lighting
  • Removal of surrounding fences to provide clear views through the space from Shaughnessy Street and McAllister Avenue
  • Accessible pathways crisscrossing the park to enhance pedestrian traffic through the area
  • Retaining the iconic clock tower

Cenotaph

In consultation with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 133, the cenotaph is being relocated to a prominent new location in the central plaza. The City is also reviewing ideas for accent lighting and a plinth to raise the cenotaph.

Tree Removal

Site preparation at Veterans Park and Leigh Square has required some tree removal that took place in March 2022 to avoid nesting season and minimize the impact on birds.

While tree removal has been minimized as much as possible, 21 large trees were required to be removed to create a welcoming and safe downtown space with improved access and clear views from the street. This is in keeping with the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for public spaces, which promotes natural surveillance through lighting, open areas and clear sightlines to improve public safety and deter crime.

The removed trees will be replaced with 45 new trees on the site, in keeping with the City’s Tree Bylaw that requires two trees to be planted for every significant tree removed.

Species included cherry, spruce, dove and red oak. The existing trees were not viable for replanting due to health or size.

The City has been investigating ways to reuse the wood. Options include interior features, carving projects, outdoor kiosks, benches, interpretive signage posts, gazebo or split-rail fencing, educational materials (e.g. tree cookies/tree rings), natural play features. Branch and stem debris are being chipped for mulch.

View the full Staff Report (March 1) here.

Leigh Square

Once updated, Leigh Square will be an open-concept festival space for events and day-to-day social use with more than double the current space and capacity.

Changes will include:

  • The bandshell will be replaced with a new stage / pavilion
  • A variety of ground-level and tiered seating
  • New water feature and improved lighting and landscaping
  • Accessible design with connecting pathways, including an expansion of Donald Pathway north from Wilson Avenue to weave through Leigh Square and the downtown
  • Safe, open design with clear views through the space
  • Redeveloping the space south of the Outlet for parking, event space and food truck staging
  • Reconstructing Donald Street and Leigh Square Place into one-way corridors, allowing for improved movement of pedestrians and cyclists and more green space.

Construction is anticipated to take place from early winter to fall 2023.

Project Timelines
    • Council approval of preliminary design concept and public consultation: 2021
    • Detailed design: 2021-early 2022
    • Veterans Park redevelopment: Some site preparation work began in March 2022, construction will take place from fall 2022 to spring 2023 in conjunction with other Civic Centre improvements.
    • Leigh Square improvements: Some site preparation in March 2022, construction is anticipated to take place from spring 2023 to 2024.
  • Donald Pathway extension: As adjacent work is completed in 2023-2024.

The work will be phased to allow for public space to continue to be open to the public when safe and feasible while other spaces are redeveloped.

Quarry Rock Development 

This private housing and commercial project on McAllister Avenue will complement the City’s work on McAllister Avenue. Construction began in 2021 on a five-storey building at 2241-2251 McAllister Ave., the site of a City-owned parking lot and former commercial building. Included in the project is 63 apartment units, street-level commercial space, underground parking and a 2,500-square-foot plaza alongside the planned Donald Pathway extension

Costs and Financing

Port Coquitlam’s 2022 Capital Plan includes approximately $5.8 million for the Civic Centre redevelopment taking place in 2022 and 2023.

Funding sources for capital improvements include surplus funds, grants, developer fees and contributions, and reserves. The City continues to actively seek additional grant opportunities for this project.

Construction Impacts

The City is committed to working with the contractors and community to mitigate impact on the community throughout the construction stage. Work will be phased to allow for continuous access to public space when safe and feasible.

The City will continue to keep residents and businesses updated as the Civic Centre redevelopment plans and construction details are finalized. 

McAllister Avenue Construction

The reconstruction of McAllister Avenue from spring 2021 to spring 2022 has been completed. 

Re-opened to traffic in late February 2022 during the final stage of construction, McAllister features a distinctive streetscape design focused on walking, socializing, shopping and celebrating, including:

  • One-way east-bound traffic to provide more space for those on foot,
  • Engaging street-level building design with patios and storefronts that spill out onto the sidewalk,
  • A level street surface with unique paving materials, underground wires and drainage,
  • Trees, landscaping and furniture that can be removed during events, and
  • Electrical hookups for entertainers and food trucks.

Background and Planning

Downtown Action Plan

In fall 2017, the City of Port Coquitlam completed a year-long planning exercise designed to identify opportunities to further develop the area’s potential while retaining its small-town scale and charm.

Consultant Cushing Terrell was hired to conduct research, review best practices and consult with stakeholders and an advisory group comprised of representatives of property and business owners, the Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association, developers, non-profit associations, downtown residents and community members.

Objectives included:

  • Attracting developers and businesses,
  • Purchasing and selling lands to facilitate future developments,
  • Creating opportunities for development that will be acted upon by owners, developers and desired businesses, and
  • Offering incentives to promote growth.

The project, intended to build on Downtown Plan ’98 (see below), was part of the City’s current update to the Official Community Plan.

Recommendations and Concept Plan

The consultant’s report, Recommendations for a Downtown Action Plan, identified a number of actions that may be considered to achieve improvements in the downtown. The report was received by Council in September 2017 for information and planning purposes.

View:

In the fall of 2019, the City endorsed the Downtown Concept Plan, a high level conceptual framework for development of key sites in the downtown. It included goals for the downtown to be connected, convenient, desirable, livable and walkable, with redevelopment of selected under-utilized properties to make way for tree-lined streets and paths, apartment-style housing and a mix of existing and new shops, businesses and restaurants.

McAllister Avenue Development

Quarry Rock Development is currently redeveloping 2241-2251 McAllister Ave, the site of a parking lot and former commercial building, with a five-storey building featuring almost 20,000 square feet of street-level commercial space, an open public plaza, 63 apartments with one to three bedrooms, and underground parking.

Read the media release here.

In April 2020, the City approved an updated streetscape design for McAllister Avenue that includes a wide pedestrian and boulevard area and maintains a large portion of on-street parking. Construction is taking place from 2021 to early 2022. Read more:

Downtown Plan '98

During the late 1990s, Downtown Plan ’98 was developed through a public process to provide a guiding framework for the revitalization of the downtown area.  The municipal staff worked with community residents and businesses to determine a vision of what the core area could ultimately look like in the future.

Downtown Plan ’98 illustrates this vision through various components such as policies and land use designations and is reflected in the Official Community Plan as a Development Permit Area for the downtown area.

Vision Statement

“Downtown Port Coquitlam will become the dynamic centre of a small, vibrant, livable city.  At its core will be lively “High Street” retail district – with one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, specialty food stores and personal services.  It will also be characterized by attractive residential areas, with a variety of housing catering to many needs; a network of pedestrian and bicycle pathways; a wide array of public parks and amenities; and an impressive civic precinct.

Contact

Engineering & Public Works
Tel  604.927.5420
Email engineering@portcoquitlam.ca 

 

Location and Mailing Address

City Hall Annex (above Bank of Montreal)
#200 2564 Shaughnessy Street
Port Coquitlam, BC  V3C 3G4

Business Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays)