Monday, November 29, 2010

More parks needed as density increases

For the first time, I attended a public hearing at Burnaby City Hall on Nov 23rd . It was uneventful as nobody spoke to the issue that interested me the most, which is the plan to amend the wording of the density bonus policy allowing for increased density and taller buildings in Burnaby's town centres. With nobody expressing their opposition to the proposal, it seems that town centers such as Brentwood will see increased building heights and densities for new developments. Increasing density and building higher up in town centers is a good idea from an environmental perspective as it allows for larger numbers of people to live and work in a concentrated area rather than in an outwardly expanding direction that increasingly encroaches into the surrounding natural environment and agricultural land as has been the case for the past 30 years with development in Metro Vancouver.

With the idea of having more people concentrated in and around town centres becoming increasingly accepted, the issue of park space and related recreational amenities serving an increasing population becomes obvious. Brentwood Town Centre has seen a dramatic increase in its residential population during the past 10 years. Local recreational amenities such as the Eileen Daily and Willingdon Heights Community centres, Kensington and Burnaby Lake arenas and local outdoor parks such as Confederation Park have served the area extremely well. With the exception of the Willingdon Heights Community Centre, all of the places mentioned are located well outside of the Brentwood area and require travel by car to reach such amenities.

With more residential and commercial development planned for the area, the building of park space evenly interspersed throughout the Brentwood area will be much needed in the future, if it isn't already needed.

Close proximity of a home to parks is one of the important features that attracts potential home-buyers to any neighbourhood. If designed well, park and recreational space can be efficiently placed throughout the Brentwood area to cater to a variety of needs.

The most basic park space is one that includes a children's play area. Such parks should exist within a 10 minute walk of every residence in the Brentwood Town Centre area. The ability to walk children to a park instead of driving them there is important in creating a pedestrian culture (at least within the neighbourhood) Other amenities such as basketball, ball/roller hockey space can be incorporated into a park setting to encourage locals to play a variety of sports. Parks that include large trees to create an oasis effect is important to making a park appealing to potential users (merely planting an open grass field does not qualify as creating park space).

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