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Port Coquitlam is a large suburban community situated at the junction of two rivers: the Fraser River and the Pitt River. Historically, these rivers have been important for local agriculture, and European settlers began farming the area as far back as 1859. Prior to that, the land had been inhabited by the Kwikwetl'em First Nation as well as other Coast Salish people. The region gained importance in 1911, when the Canadian Pacific Railway established a new freight terminus in the area called "Westminster Junction." This gave rise to a push for incorporation, and in 1913, Port Coquitlam was officially established. Today, most of the farms in the region have been replaced by a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial developments. As the rest of the region has developed, Port Coquitlam has become a desirable place to live because it offers easy access to Vancouver as well as other lower mainland municipalities. This is why some of Port Coquitlam's residents are known to boast that they live in a city with a small-town spirit and big-city connections.
Interspersed between Port Coquitlam's many different neighbourhoods is an extensive system of cycling, walking, and running trails. Thanks to the over 266 acres of parkland in the area, Port Coquitlam residents have plenty of options for outdoor recreational activities. This parkland includes 46 kilometres of trails and greenways, as well several playgrounds, sports fields, tennis courts, and outdoor pools. There are also two recreation centres in the area, as well as a community arts village. The Terry Fox Library, named for cancer research activist and famed Port Coquitlam resident Terry Fox, is a haven for local residents who love to read. There is one hospital located in the nearby city of Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam is also home to many doctors' offices and other medical treatment facilities.
The city of Port Coquitlam is intersected by Lougheed Highway, which is the area's most important roadway. This highway connects Port Coquitlam to Pitt Meadows in the east and New Westminster to the west. Another important roadway is the Mary Hill Bypass, which runs along the bank of the Pitt River. Both of these major arteries will take you to the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs through nearby communities like Burnaby and North Vancouver, and also provides easy access to downtown Vancouver. There are also a number of bus routes that run throughout the city, some of which connect local residents to the SkyTrain for trips into Vancouver. Rail trains are also an important part of the city of Port Coquitlam, as the Canadian Pacific Railway continues to operate a major rail yard in the center of the city.
There are 15 elementary schools, five middle schools, and three secondary schools in Port Coquitlam. Among these schools are several private schools, four French Immersion schools, and one French language school called l'Ecole des Pionniers de Maillardville. The largest secondary school in the city is Terry Fox Secondary, which had a student population of approximately 1,570 in 2012, and is known for its strong theatre and athletics programs.
Between 2006 and 2011, the population of Port Coquitlam grew by 6.2% from 52,687 to 55,958. In 2005, the median income in Port Coquitlam was $28,403, which was about $3,500 higher than the provincial average. The average annual property tax for a household in Port Coquitlam is estimated at $2,158.58. This includes a standard annual fee for garbage collection of $176.30, as well as fees for other city services such as parks and recreation, fire, police, and road works.
Port Coquitlam holds many annual events that attract great crowds. One of the biggest events in this city is the Homecoming Weekend outdoor family and music festival, which runs every year in mid-August. This festival includes outdoor performances by major musical acts (this year's headliner was Trooper, a local favourite), as well as family-friendly activities, and the famous Downtown Car Show. Throughout the year you'll also find other festivals happening here such as a Christmas festival (which includes the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train), a Canada Day festival, May Day celebrations, Remembrance Day ceremonies, and more. If you want to stay close to Vancouver, but crave some separation from the fast-paced city life, Port Coquitlam could be the perfect place for you. You'll have great access to Vancouver and other surrounding municipalities, and when you're looking to get away, you'll also have quick access to plenty of parks and outdoor spaces. Not only that; you're also only a short drive away from the North Shore mountains. So whether it's excitement or relaxation you want, Port Coquitlam has something for you.