Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A place to relax a bit: Brentwood Mall Food Court

With the winter weather not permitting of children playing outside for very long even on a nice dry day as was the case today, I took my kids for a stroll to Brentwood Mall to buy couple of things.  By the time we were done with the shopping and the kids hinting that they were getting thirsty, we decided to have a seat at the food court and enjoy a beverage from Orange Julius.

The best seating is located above the main entrance to the 
mall at the south end of the food court by the windows

The food court has become a favourite spot of mine to enjoy a fast food meal or drink while reading a newspaper, and the number of people at the food court on any given day indicates that it's become a favourite spot for many. Apart from the variety of food choices, a nice feature of the food court is the view of Brentwood Station and the high-rise towers sprouting up to the west of it.  Not to be overlooked when a discussion of the food court occurs, the washrooms next to the food court at Brentwood Mall were voted the best in BC.  It 's no small feat considering the fact that the rating was not limited to malls.  I must admit, the washrooms are fabulous.

The food court is a nice place to sit and look out at the ever-
evolving view that is the heart of Brentwood Town Centre.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brentwood Station made the top ten in fare evasion rates

According to the results of a study released by the Vancouver Sun, Brentwood Station was 8th in fare evasion rates in 2009.  The study was conducted by Translink using a test sample of 500 commuters or more at each station. According to the study, of the 508 fares checked in December 2009, 8.7% of commuters were caught attempting to evade fares.  A total of 1, 217, 605 boardings took place at Brentwood Station in 2009.

Holdom Station finished 24th out of 25 stations included in the study and had an evasion rate of 4.7% with 576 fare checks conducted in December 2009. According to the study, a total of 767, 552  boardings took place at Holdom Station in 2009.  Gilmore station was excluded from the results due to less than 500 fare checks having been conducted there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

More car dealerships moving to Still Creek

The rezoning process is underway to allow for the addition of at least 2 more car dealerships on Still Creek Ave west of Willingdon Ave.  According to the City of Burnaby, the project at 4451 Still Creek Ave will be designed by CEI Architecture and is the second phase of a possible 3 dealerships

Perhaps the 2 dealerships on Lougheed Hwy between Willingdon and Beta Aves (Carter Dodge Chrysler and Carter GM) will make the move to Still Creek.  A move by the Carter dealerships would free up some of the largest area of real estate in the Brentwood core for development.

Th site of the future car dealerships sits across the street from 
both Morrey Nissan and McDonald's headquarters.

Morrey Nissan (below) was the first major car dealership to
make the move from Lougheed Hwy to Still Creek Ave.

The Carter dealerships occupy most of the area from Lougheed 
Hwy to Dawson Ave between Alpha and Willingdon Aves.

The only other 2 major dealerships that may make the move from Lougheed Hwy would be Coastal Ford at Holdom and Lougheed, and Destination Toyota at Madison and Lougheed.  Car dealerships along Lougheed Hwy seem to be out of place as the Lougheed Hwy street front changes and gives way to mixed-use developments.

The first dealership to make the move to Still Creek from Lougheed was Morrey Nissan which now occupies the corner of Still Creek and Willingdon Ave across the street from McDonald's regional headquarters.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

APPIA continues to build Brentwood

Earlier in the month, a reader pointed out the planned development on the SW corner of Willingdon Ave and Lougheed Hwy as displayed on with a link to the designing architect's vision for the site. According to the info found in the link, the project is titled, "Brentwood Crossing"

According to the City of Burnaby's website under the heading "Major Projects", the latest APPIA project in Brentwood will add over 154, 000 square feet of commercial space, 566, 000 square feet of office space in the form of 2 high-rise office towers, and 105, 000 square feet of residential space in the form of 3 high-rise residential towers (509 units). The amount of commercial space is significant (the London Drugs at Brentwood Mall is 34, 000 square feet).

This is the fourth project by APPIA west of Willingdon Ave. The previous 3 projects are located north of Lougheed Hwy (Motif at Citi, Madison Centre and Buchanan North) across the street from 4420 Lougheed Hwy where the next project will be built.

The former site of the Morrey Nissan dealership sits next to Milestones restaurant which may have to relocate either offsite or into the new development. Hopefully the restaurant will remain in the neighbourhood to take advantage of the increasing numbers of residents and employees in the area.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reduced speed limit on cycling routes not a deterrent for speeders

The City of Burnaby has recently proposed reducing the speed limit for cars to 30 km/h on its cycling routes (Vancouver Sun article) to increase cyclist safety along those routes. While it is a good idea to legally reduce the speed limit along cycling routes, it would only be a small first step in creating safer roads for cyclists. It is one thing to officially have a lower limit, and another thing to enforce the speed limit in those areas.

A street like Delta Ave which has Brentwood Park Elementary and Holy Cross schools on either side still sees vehicles travelling in excess of 70 km/h during the day while the speed limit has been 30 km/h as per school zone standards for years. I have yet to see a car pulled over for speeding along Delta Ave near the schools during the day or night.

In order to make the idea work, the next steps after creating reduced speed zones should be to (1) add traffic calming measures to the affected areas (narrower road and wider sidewalk), and (2) speed enforcement by the police. Until the idea is fully implemented by including the 2 steps mentioned, it will not make cycling routes safer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moving to Brentwood was the right choice

Before moving into the Brentwood area in 2006 from the area near Broadway and Sperling, my wife and I had seriously contemplated moving to Port Moody with the news that the Evergreen Line was going to be built there. With the line that was supposed to be built by now still in limbo, I feel fortunate that we decided to opt for the more expensive but more convenient Brentwood neighbourhood. I am able to get to work in downtown within 30 minutes of going out my front door, walking to Brentwood Station from where I take the SkyTrain. The convenience of having Brentwood Mall steps away is a bonus.

With the Millennium SkyTrain Line in place, the Brentwood area is ready-made for transit users that work and play in downtown Vancouver. Hopefully the Evergreen Line will be built for the sake of those that moved into the areas along the proposed line in Burnaby, Port Moody, and Coquitlam in the hope that they would benefit from the convenience of rapid transit close to home.

Having lived in North Burnaby most of my life and now in Brentwood for 4 years, I can truly say that I am content to be where I am. As the neighbourhood changes around me, I hope that I am able to document the changes through this blog in a way that others will find interesting as a source of Brentwood history.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cycling lanes are not the problem

I've mentioned cycling-friendly infrastructure as one of the features that would make the Brentwood area better. The benefits of allowing people to be more comfortable getting out into the neighbourhood on their bicycles when running errands or going for a coffee are well documented. The environmental and health benefits of cycling are well known.

The recently-built cycling lanes in downtown Vancouver have created an uproar from drivers and businesses. In particular, businesses along the length of the the Dunsmuir and Hornby bike lanes have complained about a drop in customer traffic due to the loss of parking spaces that gave way to the bike lanes.

If the decision makers had taken the time to consider all possible options when designing the bike lanes, they would have foreseen the flaw in the current design and would have been able to retain street parking while building the lanes. Instead of being placed on the street between the sidewalk curb and the car lane, the bike lanes should have been placed on an extended/widened sidewalk with barriers separating cyclists from both pedestrians and automobile traffic. Both the sidewalk and the car lane would each lose a couple of feet or a combination thereof, and the parking spots could still be located along the street.

A simple rearrangement from the current setup would have resolved the parking issue for businesses as they would not have lost on-street parking. Of course, with space already limited in the downtown core, the suggested design may pose challenges there. In my opinion, this is a challenge that the city should have attempted to overcome.

The Brentwood area does not have the same space constraints as downtown Vancouver. Because the City of Burnaby still has the luxury of space in its town centres, it must consider building cycling lanes between on-street parking and the sidewalk, allowing for on-street parking to remain. This is not a new concept as it is used elsewhere. As the following image I found at shows (below right), cycling lanes do not have to compete with parking space at the extreme level shown by their construction in downtown Vancouver:

The City of Vancouver could have spared itself from the ire of those negatively impacted by the poorly-designed cycling lanes by doing a little research online at the above mentioned cycling blog. Hopefully the City of Burnaby is not deterred from adding cycling lanes along commercial streets in areas like Brentwood just because of the problems that Vancouver has created with its cycling initiatives.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Steve Nash Fitness World coming to Brentwood

The building that formerly housed the Office Depot on Lougheed Hwy next to Tim Hortons and Boston Pizza will soon be the home to a new Steve Nash Fitness World. The arrival of the club will bring the number of fitness centres in the Brentwood area to four including:

REV's Fitness Centre which houses former IBO World Champion Manny Sobral's North Burnaby Boxing Club next to Holdom Station,

Fit City for Women at Beta Ave and Lougheed Hwy near Brentwood Station,

Gold's Gym next to Gilmore Station on Dawson Ave.

The new Steve Nash Fitness World location is steps away from Gilmore Station.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A hotdog cart in Brentwood would be great

According to stories in the Burnaby Now and Burnaby Newsleader, the City of Burnaby's current bylaw make it nearly impossible to operate a hotdog cart in the city. Kathy Sullivan, a prospective Burnaby hotdog vendor, is currently bringing the issue to Burnaby City Council.

A hotdog vendor serves passerby at Commercial-
Broadway Station in Vancouver.

Food carts placed in parts of Burnaby's town centres would help to create a street-food scene that currently does not exist. If I were to see Kathy Sullivan's hotdog cart near the Brentwood SkyTrain station, I would definitely be one of her customers. I'm sure the bus drivers that stop for breaks at the bus loop as well as the numerous transit users coming and going also wouldn't mind having a delicious snack waiting just steps away. We shouldn't have to go into Vancouver to get a hotdog.

If Kathy Sullivan is successful in changing the bylaw, it will only improve the street scene by offering consumers an alternative choice when eating out.