Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The election has come and gone...

...and believe it or not, many may not even have known what kind of election it was let alone have been aware of it at all.  Once again, the participation rate was around 25% of eligible voters.  For some reason, 75% of eligible voters don't feel that voting is important enough to set aside some time.  Enough of my frustrated ranting about voter apathy.

The next 3 years will continue to see changes occurring in the Brentwood area as the city continues to build up the density here.  The Brentwood Mall redevelopment will be the largest project in the area, if not Burnaby and will be an opportunity for local residents to share their concerns and to provide input into what they would like to see for the redevelopment.  This is where the public's direct input can have a direct impact on how the Brentwood area will evolve if enough people have their collective voices heard.

The Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan envisions creating a pedestrian-oriented development according to the City of Burnaby website.  Even with such a bold statement being made, citizens should question what criteria was used to envision a pedestrian-oriented neighbourhood.  We should question whether or not the criteria used is current or out-dated.  Is the current criteria for sidewalks good enough to meet the standards of a walkable neighbourhood?  What was considered to be pedestrian-friendly in the 1990's may no longer be good enough to meet our expectations in 2012 and beyond.

Cycling infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with the development both within and outside the Brentwood area as it will become more of a hub of activity for people living in the surrounding areas located outside the Brentwood Town Centre zone.  The widening of Willingdon Ave between Lougheed Hwy and Hastings St is part of a Provincial Government plan to increase traffic flow in the area. Although I don't believe that it is the best idea to add another lane on Willingdon Ave, it should be an opportunity for Burnaby to initiate a collaboration with the Province to build a cycling and pedestrian thoroughfare alongside the widened Willingdon Ave to connect Brentwood to the Burnaby Heights area to the north where community amenities at Confederation Park could be accessed by walking and cycling.  The pedestrian and cycling thoroughfare can be separated by barriers and vegetation to create a buffer along its length to provide an element of safety for pedestrians and to minimize the impact of the road widening on the homes immediately to the east of Willingdon Ave in the Brentwood Park area.There is currently no direct north-south pedestrian or cycling route on either side of Willingdon Ave between Burnaby Heights and Brentwood.  Accessibility between neighbourhoods should not be built around automobiles alone and the addition of a pedestrian/cycling path would begin to remedy the decades-long automobile-centered growth that we continue to witness as I write this post.

Houses along the east side of Willingdon Ave have gradually been torn down to make way for another traffic lane between Lougheed and Hastings.  There should be ample space to add a pedestrian/cycling lane alongside the new lane which would greatly improve the look from its current state of pedestrian unfriendliness.

The Brentwood neighbourhood is going to look much different 10 years from now and the space allocated for pedestrian infrastructure built today must meet our needs 20 years from now and beyond.  It would be a big mistake to not consider our needs decades into the future as it would be more costly to impose harsh reactionary measures later on due to the lack of foresight by our planners today.  The pain of change being felt in neighbouring Vancouver is an example of what I am talking about as the struggle between car-users and cyclists rages on in Downtown.

The City will not know what is expected of its citizens if enough people do not participate in public hearings related to development projects.  The public hearings held at Burnaby City Hall should be standing room only with a steady stream of input and ideas as to what the citizens expect with the Brentwood redevelopment.  People need to start thinking about it now well before the project is announced.  Automobile traffic, walkability, cyclability and density are issues that immediately come to mind.  What do you think?  What needs to be done and what do we need to make Brentwood a complete neighbourhood?

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