Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are we dense enough already?

The following letter regarding density is from the Burnaby NewsLeader.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Letters

    Burnaby should spread density around

    The original proposal had only three towers that were 11 to 14 storeys shorter, and also promised to have two office towers.
    Meanwhile, in Metrotown the Beedie Group is proposing adding four residential towers to its Station Square property up to 57 storeys high. The original proposal for this large site included a 25 storey office tower and two much smaller residential towers.
    What is concerning about these two proposals is the increased street congestion that will result from the density bonus process, the lack of public consultation respecting the bylaw amendment that allows these densities and building heights and the expectation that current Metrotown and Brentwood residents will continue to bear the brunt of population growth in the city.
    According to Metro Vancouver, in 2001 there were approximately 32 persons per acre living in the Metrotown area, a 3.07 sq. km. space. I’m certain that in the last 10 years this density is approaching 40. Metrotown’s density is well above what is considered a “compact neighbourhood” and is approaching a density close to what is called a “pedestrian-oriented neighbourhood,” and this has been achieved without resorting to constructing towers above 30 storeys. It is unfair for City Hall to expect residents in the Metrotown area to absorb greater and greater numbers of people and residents, while other neighbourhoods in Burnaby continue to live at densities far below what is considered “compact.”
    Three single lots can certainly accommodate at least 20 dwellings through the construction of low-rise apartments.
    Add a floor or two, and we can increase neighbourhood densities substantially and still be “neighbourly.” Between 2001 and 2006 Burnaby saw a 1.36 per cent drop in the inventory of single- and two-family homes. High rise dwellings jumped 14.5 per cent, but family-friendlier low-rise dwellings grew only eight per cent.
    Through careful planning and assembly of single lots, allowing for four or five-storey low-rises, protection of industrial, commercial and agricultural land, smart transit planning and proper public consultation, Burnaby could become a model for sustainability.
    The municipal Green Party will be running a slate of candidates in November. We favour a multi-pronged approach to accommodating growth that will preserve the integrity of neighbourhoods, strengthen belongingness within the community and promote use of alternate modes of transportation. We will work hard to put sustainable development decisions into the hands of the people in communities rather than solely in the hands of city staffers and developers whose influence has increased under the current administration.

    Rick McGowan
    Burnaby Green Party

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