Coquitlam Lafarge Lake
Credit: Greg Salter

widgetRecent transit improvements have boosted this culturally diverse city’s appeal as a residential and commercial centre

Rapid transit is driving rapid growth to Coquitlam. Mayor Richard Stewart credits the Evergreen SkyTrain Extension with driving a flood of new residents to the community even before it opened in late 2016. Coquitlam has been one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the region since 2012, with its population surging 6.9 percent as of last year, to nearly 140,000. Now that the promise of shorter commute times has been realized, even more people are arriving.

The population boom is reflected in a building boom: housing starts rose from 1,625 in 2016 to 2,130 last year. Many of those homes are being built as part of mixed-use developments near the new SkyTrain stations. New residents will join a culturally diverse community where Cantonese, Persian and Korean can commonly be heard on the streets. Homebuyers have long flocked here to take refuge from Vancouver’s higher prices, but Coquitlam is leveraging its growth to ensure that there’s more to its future than a being bedroom community and a construction job site. It’s building on its role as a regional commercial hub.

Coquitlam was blessed with abundant transportation infrastructure long before the SkyTrain extension, and businesses here take advantage of it. Shoppers from around the Lower Mainland pour in off the Trans-Canada and Lougheed highways, putting retailers like Ikea and Real Canadian Superstore among the municipality’s top employers. Those same thoroughfares make shipping a breeze for companies like WN Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Superior Poultry Processors Ltd. Some local businesses complained that customer traffic diverted away from them in 2012 when the provincial government introduced tolls to the Port Mann Bridge connecting Coquitlam to Surrey and other communities across the Fraser River. Thankfully for them, the province eliminated those tolls in September 2017.

However, many parts of Coquitlam remain inaccessible except by foot—or possibly canoe or mountain bike. The municipality encompasses vast parks and many other outdoor amenities. Endorphin junkies can blast along world-class mountain-bike trails with names like Lungbuster, or hike the quad-burning path known as the Coquitlam Crunch. Those who really want to get away can hike through pristine wilderness in 38,000-hectare Pinecone Burke Provincial Park.

Population: 138,151
Household age (0-45, 45-64, 64+): 33.1%, 45.2%, 21.7%
University grads: 31.8%
Average household income: $84,683
Average household income under 45: $101,946
Five-year income growth, 2012-17: 13.7%
Five-year population growth: 6.9%

Average detached home price: $1,280,000
Average condominium price: $512,600
Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom: $1,550
Average annual household spending on shelter: $23,966

Key industries: Retail; health care and social services; finance and insurance; real estate
Notable employers: City of Coquitlam; Ikea; Riverview Hospital; School District 43; Superior Poultry Processors Ltd.; Real Canadian Superstore; WN Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Regional unemployment: 4% (February)

Total value of building permits issued in 2017: $473,388,000
Change from 2016: 39.2%
Average processing time for a building permit: n/a
Cost of a business licence: n/a
Business property tax rate: $10.58 per $1,000 of assessed value
Average office lease rate per sq. ft./year: $15-$22
Average retail lease rate: $19-$53

Quality of LifeQUALITY OF LIFE
Major post-secondary institutions: None
Major recreational amenities: More than 80 parks; nine recreation centres offering amenities including pools, skating rinks, fitness facilities, woodworking shops and games rooms; more than 30 tennis courts; two outdoor pools; eight spray parks; numerous sports fields; skate and BMX parks
Key annual events: Persian Fire Festival; Salmon Leave Home; Coquitlam Crunch Challenge; BC Highland Games and Scottish Festival; Coquitlam Craft Beer Festival
Average annual household spending on recreation: $5,126
Residents who walk or bike to work: 2.6%