This week, a look at a municipal town centre that’s trying to create a regional transit-oriented development – before transit has arrived.

If you haven’t been to Coquitlam for a few decades, this might be your memory – a commercial strip with a bad case of Motordom.  And much of Barnett/Lougheed Highway still looks this way (map here):


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Coq - Motordom .

But “Coquitlam City Centre” is a designated regional town centre in the Metro Vancouver strategic plan (details here) – and the municipal council, planners and developers have been making a determined effort to create an urban place for the last several decades, expecting, hoping, crying for theCapture Evergreen rapid-transit line to arrive.  So it makes a great case-study in how high-density works, particularly in highrise form, when the context all around is still car-dependent.

As we’ll see, much of the urban-design has been influenced by ‘Vancouverism’ – the name somewhat vaguely applied to the tower-and-podium style that evolved out of the megaproject developments that so spectacularly changed the City of Vancouver in the 1990s.

Although Coquitlam wasn’t the only suburban municipality to adopt a Vancouver-styled urbanism (check out No. 3 Road in Richmond, Lonsdale in North Vancouver, Surrey City Centre), it’s probably the one that looks most like parts of Concord Pacific or Downtown South.

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The residential highrises, in fact, are often taller and more imposing that what might be found downtown, and the ambience of the neighbourhood is distinctly influenced by the presence of a large Korean community.

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Coq - smoker


Next: what works, what doesn’t.