Port Coquitlam on the Rivers
The Splendid Location
The City of Port Coquitlam in British Columbia, Canada is at the confluence of the Fraser and the Pitt rivers about 17 miles east and upstream of the City of Vancouver. The name “Coquitlam,” aboriginal in origin, signifies red fish in the river in reference to the river’s annual salmon spawning run. The City of Coquitlam surrounds Port Coquitlam on the north, west, and southwest and the rivers are on the east and the southeast.
Coquitlam’s geographical situation was a major impetus in its incorporation. Access to the Pitt and Fraser Rivers, proximity to Vancouver, and the presence of level land for rail yards attracted the Canadian Pacific Railway, which moved its freight operations to Port Coquitlam from Vancouver in 1911. At the end of World War II, there were approximately 1,500 area residents, in 1952 about 3,000, and in 1960 the population was around 8,400. The 2011 Census reported a population of 55,598, a 6.2-percent rise change from 52,687 in 2006. In the late 1990s, the population grew at a 9.8-percent rate; by 2001 25 percent were immigrants, and English was the first language of no more than 76 percent.
Farming began beside the Pitt River in 1859. When in 1911 the Canadian Pacific Railway moved its freight operations to then “Westminster Junction,” where a spur line went to New Westminster, development increased dramatically, and Westminster Junction incorporated as the Port Coquitlam municipality in March 1913.
Before the Second World War, the bulk of the Port Coquitlam population worked for the railway or for the Essondale Provincial Mental Hospital southwest of the city. After 1952, major industries arrived in Port Coquitlam. Since 1988 industrial development has been intense with new businesses sprouting in the Davies Industrial Park, the Mary Hill Industrial Estate, and Meridian Industrial Park
Mostly farmland at first, Port Coquitlam is now primarily suburban housing in its northern and southwestern areas. The economy is now diverse with various industrial and commercial developments in metal fabrication, high-technology, and transport industries.
As a primarily suburban locale, Port Coquitlam relies heavily on roads to move goods and people. The Lougheed Highway, Provincial Highway 7, bisects Port Coquitlam from Coquitlam in the west to the Pitt River Bridge to the City of Pitt Meadows across the river in the east. The Mary Hill Bypass, Highway 7B, runs adjacent to the Fraser River from the Pitt River Bridge on the east to the TransCanada Highway Bridge from Coquitlaim to Surrey on the west.
TransLink Bus Route #159 connects southern Port Coquitlam to the SkyTrain Braid and Lougheed Town Centre stations. Bus Route #160 links Port Coquitlam and Vancouver via the Coquitlam Central and Port Moody West Coast Express stations. Bus Route #C38 connects northern Port Coquitlam to the SkyTrain Coquitlam Central Station.
In October 2009 the new, seven-lane cable-stayed Pitt River Bridge replaced the swing bridges connecting Port Coquitlam and the City of Pitt Meadows on the east side of the river. In March 2010 the Coast Meridian Overpass, a new, four-lane, cable-stayed bridge, opened for travel north and south over the Canadian Pacific Railway Oxford Street rail yard.