Coquitlam adds extra cash for school and park

Outdoor sports and community recreation a key part of Burke Mountain project

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By ROY FANG

Coquitlam city council is boosting funding for a joint park and school project, increasing the construction budget to $18.4 million, more than double the amount previously committed earlier this year.

Council unanimously supported the decision in September to increase their contribution by $9.6 million to the project done in collaboration with the Coquitlam school district. In April, the city had allocated $8.8 million for its share of the project, including a $5 million donation from Wesbild Holdings, a local development company.

Funding increase was expected

Funding for the project was expected to change as it progressed, said Lanny Englund, Coquitlam’s general manager of parks, recreation, culture and facilities. He said the project’s price change is due to post-pandemic price increases in construction and materials. Englund also said the updated cost is to help complete the construction of the school by September 2026. He said earthworks on the site have recently begun. Construction of the park is expected to begin in April 2025.

Coun. Dennis Marsden said at the Sept. 11 council meeting that the additional funding for the project uses more than half of Coquitlam’s Growing Communities Fund, which is meant to serve all of Coquitlam.

He said the funding for the Burke Mountain park is disproportionate compared to other city projects as the project’s increased funding is equivalent to the cost of the Maillardville Community Centre. However, Marsden said funding the joint school and park project is necessary for the community.

“This is the second school in our community that our city has had to step up and help fund,” Marsden said. “Really who should be funding it is the owner of our schools. That’s our province.”

Coquitlam Coun. Matt Djonlic said although its funding has increased, the project’s scope remains unchanged.

“We allocated $9 million to the joint project to free up some funds elsewhere that could then be used for other construction projects,” he said.

Heavily anticipated by the community

Djonlic also said that the amenities the project will bring, including a soccer field, four tennis courts and a 400-metre running track, have been desperately needed by the Burke Mountain community and that “the school is long, long overdue.”

In 2022, the Burke Mountain school was approved and provided funding by the provincial government after years of lobbying by Coquitlam parents and politicians. Located on a 9.35-hectare site on David Avenue, the school will be a joint middle and secondary school with a capacity of 1,000 students from grades 6 through 12.

Rosey Manhas, president of the District 43 Parent Advisory Council, has been looking forward to the school.

“I am delighted that our district heard the community and saw the need for the school,” said Manhas. “The district has been doing everything to get the school built as soon as possible and I think the whole community is thrilled.”

Manhas adds she believes the park will also help families in the community form connections without needing to travel.

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