Coquitlam (2011 census population 126,840), mainly a suburban city, is the sixth-largest city in the province and is one of the 21 municipalities comprising Metro Vancouver. As one of BC’s fastest- growing suburbs, Coquitlam has a vibrant community that prides itself on outdoor activities, destination attractions and a thriving history of arts, culture and heritage. Coquitlam is the largest of what is known as the Tri-Cities: Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody. Although the earliest residents of the area were Coast Salish from the Kwikwetlem (“Coquitlam”) First Nation, the community now boasts a wide and diverse range of cultures with significant Chinese, Korean, Persian and French populations. In recognition of the city’s commitment to the arts and culture, Coquitlam was named a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2009. Coquitlam boasts an impressive “to do” list: outdoor adventures include fishing, hiking, canoeing, camping and birdwatching; sporting activities such as golf, swimming, biking and running; arts and cultural experiences including theatre, dance, music, art, history and festivals; and shopping and dining. Families enjoy the more than 70 parks and nature areas that Coquitlam has to offer, which feature lakes, rivers and huge old-growth trees. Nearly 100 km/60 mi of trails for hiking and biking, and several lakes, rivers and creeks make for a perfect natural playground. Stroll the trails of Riverview Forest, Minnekhada or Colony Farm regional parks and keep watch for birds and wildlife. Explore Maillardville, the oldest French-Canadian community in western Canada, or take a historic walking tour. For those seeking a more cosmopolitan experience, Coquitlam has several shopping districts. The centre of town is home to Coquitlam Centre, a nearly 1,000,000-square-foot mall with many shopping options. Another notable area is North Road, home to the largest Korean shopping district in the lower mainland. Looking for culture? Coquitlam features more than 100 festivals and events each year. Popular events include the Korean Culturals Heritage Day Festival, the Minnekhada Art in the Park Festival, the French-themed Festival du Bois, the Como Lake Fishing Derby and the Teddy bear Picnic and Parade. Coquitlam lies 30km/18mi east of Vancouver, and is easily accessible by car via Highway 1 or Highway 7. Public transit provides direct service to Coquitlam via the WestCoast Express train (departs from downtown Vancouver), or SkyTrain’s Millenium Line. The Coast Salish people were the first to live in this area, and archaeology confirms continuous occupation of the territory for at least 9,000 years. The name Kwikwetlem is said to be derived from a Coast Salish term meaning “red fish up the river” Explorer Simon Fraser came through the region in 1808, and in the 1860s Europeans gradually started settling the area. Coquitlam began as a “place-in-between” with the construction of North Road in the mid-19th century to provide Royal Engineers in New Westminster access to the year-round port facilities in Port Moody. Coquitlam’s geographic shape can be thought of as a tilted hourglass, with two larger parcels of land with a smaller central section connecting them. Southwest Coquitlam comprises the original core of the city, with Maillardville and Fraser River industrial sector giving way to the large residential areas of Austin Heights, colloquially referred to as “The Bump” due to its high and flat plateau topography. These older residences, with larger property dimensions, are increasingly being torn down and replaced with newer and larger homes. The Poirier Street area was the city’s original recreational centre with the Coquitlam Sports Centre, Chimo Aquatic and Fitness Centre, and sports fields located there, while City Hall was previously located further south in Maillardville. The Austin Heights area contains Como Lake, a renowned urban fishing and recreation area, and headwaters for the Como watershed. The watershed represents one of the last urban watersheds in the Tri-Cities that supports wild stocks of coho salmon as well as other species at risk such as coastal cutthroat trout (both sea-run and resident) and bird species such as the great blue heron and green heron. It also contains Mundy Park, one of the largest urban parks in the Metro Vancouver area. In 1984, the provincial government sold 57 hectares (141 acres) formerly attached to Riverview Hospital to Molnar Developments. Shortly afterward, this land was subdivided and became Riverview Heights, with about 250 single family homes. The remaining 240 acres (0.97 km2) of this still-active mental health facility has been the subject of much controversy between developers, environmentalists, and conservationists. In 2005, the city’s task force on the hospital lands rejected the idea of further housing on the lands and declared that the lands and buildings should be protected and remain as a mental health facility. Coquitlam Town Centre, was designated as a “Regional Town Centre” under the Metro Vancouver’s Livable Region Strategic Plan. The concept of a town centre for the area dates back to 1975, and is intended to have a high concentration of high-density housing, offices, cultural, entertainment and education facilities to serve major growth areas of the region, served by rapid transit service. It is in the town centre that many public buildings can be found, including City Hall, a branch of the Coquitlam Public Library, R.C.M.P. station, Coquitlam’s main fire hall, the David Lam Campus of Douglas College, the Evergreen Cultural Centre, City Centre Aquatic Complex, Town Centre Park and Percy Perry Stadium. Coquitlam Town Centre is currently undergoing an update of the Town Centre plan. In 1989, the provincial government sold 570 hectares (1,409 acres) of second-growth forested land on the south slope of Eagle Mountain, known locally as Eagle Ridge, to developer Wesbild. This resulted in the closure of Westwood Motorsport Park in 1990, and the creation of Westwood Plateau, which was developed into 4,525 upscale homes, as well as two golf courses. With development on Westwood Plateau completed and the opening of the David Avenue Connector in 2006, Coquitlam’s primary urban development has now shifted to Burke Mountain in the northeastern portion of the city.