Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Planet headquarters now in Brentwood

Happy Planet Foods, which is owned by Vancouver Mayor Greg Robertson, has moved its headquarters to 4190 Lougheed Hwy between Madison and Gilmore Avenues in the Brentwood area of Burnaby.

The Vancouver Courier

Vancouver mayor’s juice company moved to suburbs

Robertson describes himself as former small business owner

Happy Planet trucks at the Vulcan Way warehouse in Richmond.

Happy Planet trucks at the Vulcan Way warehouse in Richmond.

Photograph by: Bob Mackin, Vancouver Courier

With smoothie flavours such as Lost Lagoon Mango and Sunset Beach Strawberry and a Vancouver post office box, Happy Planet Foods must be a proud local juice purveyor.
Think again.
Mayor Gregor Robertson declared the City of Vancouver a “fantastic place to do business” in a Vancouver Economic Commission promotional video. But the organic juice company he co-founded and owns shares in and whose product labels bear his signature migrated to the suburbs a year after the Winter Olympics.
Maheb Nathoo, chief executive of Happy Planet’s majority shareholder Earth’s Own Food Company, said Happy Planet’s office in an East Vancouver warehouse at 950 Powell St. became “redundant,” so it closed last February. Happy Planet is now headquartered with Earth’s Own in an office building at 4190 Lougheed Highway in Burnaby.
“We have expanded our facility in Richmond, we have a warehouse and soup manufacturing facility, our distribution, some of our offices have been consolidated over there,” Nathoo told the Courier. “Some of our administration staff we have relocated to Burnaby. What we are doing is leveraging the marketing and customer service network of the major shareholder.”
Nathoo denied the move was prompted by the planned construction of the joint civic-federal Powell Street railway overpass.
“We are very small, very focused organization,” he said. “That was not part of our consideration at all.”
Happy Planet smoothies and juices are made at a plant on Annacis Island in Delta and distributed out of Richmond from giant UNFI Canada’s 12757 Vulcan Way warehouse. UNFI Canada refrigerated delivery trucks also function as mobile billboards for Happy Planet’s juices, energy shots and soups. Nathoo said Happy Planet shares space with yogurt maker Liberte Natural Foods at nearby 2271 Vauxhall Place. “We are all in the healthy foods [industry] and serving similar retailers, like Whole Foods,” Nathoo said.
Robertson co-founded the company in 1994 with Randal Ius who, Nathoo said, “is the key part of the organization.”
“His knowledge, background and understanding is outstanding. I’m very delighted to have the founder continue that energy,” Nathoo said. “Gregor is a shareholder, but he’s not involved.”
Robertson introduced himself Tuesday at a Vision Vancouver fundraiser as a former small business owner. Robertson’s nomination papers for the 2011 election indicate he has shares in Happy Planet Foods Ltd., Treedom Ventures Ltd., Ohana Partners Inc. and Glen Valley Organic Farm Cooperative.
One of Happy Planet’s earliest investors was Renewal Partners, the venture capital fund run by Joel Solomon and Carol Newell. Solomon is a financial contributor to Vision Vancouver and an adviser to the mayor.
Earth’s Own, which was called Soyaworld until February, took a majority stake in Happy Planet in 2004, the year before Robertson ran for the NDP in the provincial election and won the Vancouver-Fraserview riding.
Nathoo said Happy Planet sales are now worth “15-plus” million dollars a year.
Requests to city hall and the Vision Vancouver campaign office for an interview with Robertson were not fulfilled. “In terms of his relationship with Happy Planet and Earth’s Own, he has absolutely zero operational, administrative or any kind of decision-making power, authority or role,” said Vision Vancouver campaign communications director Marcella Munro.

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Six more dealerships coming to Still Creek

According to the City of Burnaby website's list of Major Projects, six dealerships will be added to the Burnaby Auto Mall at 4451 Still Creek Drive in Burnaby.  With the Carter Chrysler/Fiat and GM dealerships expanding their showrooms on Lougheed Hwy next to Brentwood Station, we  can rule them out for the move to the new auto mall.  Perhaps Coastal Ford will make it's move from Holdom and Lougheed  along with the Toyota dealership currently located at Madison and Lougheed to make room for more residential/commercial developments along Lougheed Hwy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brentwood density a topic at all-candidates debate

The issue of density in the Brentwood area is becoming more prominent as municipal elections approach.  An all-candidates debate set up by the Burnaby Heights Neighbourhood Association will include density in the Brentwood area as a topic of debate.  The debate will take place on Thursday November 3 at Gilmore Community School at 50 South Gilmore Ave with doors opening at 6:30pm and will end at 8:30pm.

Candidates debates on

Burnaby residents will get the chance to hear from municipal candidates at allcandidates debates being set up by community groups in the next few weeks.
Burnaby Community Connections has organized an all-candidates meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 6 to 8: 30 p.m. at Stride Avenue Community School, at 7014 Stride Ave., for those candidates running for mayor and city council.
The organization has also set up an allcandidates meeting for those running for school board on Tuesday, Nov. 1, from 6 to 8: 30 p.m. at the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion's office at 2702 Norland Ave.
The Burnaby Heights Neighbourhood Association has set up an all-candidates meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3 at Gilmore Community School, 50 S. Gilmore Ave. Doors open at 6: 30 p.m., and there will be a question-and-answer period from 7 to 8: 30 p.m.
Topics covered will include traffic, policing, parks and recreation, Brentwood redevelopment and density, according to the association.
Burnaby residents will be electing a mayor, eight councillors and seven school trustees in the election, which takes place on Saturday, Nov. 19.


Town Centre concept not an ad hoc idea

2 more articles on the density debate

(Burnaby NewsLeader letter to the editor)
Burnaby residents support city centre concept

Published: October 20, 2011 4:00 PM 
Updated: October 20, 2011 4:41 PM

I read Grant Granger’s column “A surreal spin around Metrotown” (NewsLeader, Oct. 7) with great interest. Many of his observations hit the mark and reflect more than three decades of collective wisdom around the issue of urban growth.
Conceived in the late seventies and early eighties, Burnaby’s major town centres—Metrotown, Brentwood, Lougheed and Edmonds—were designed to be hubs of residential and commercial activity, as well as transportation hubs.
The town centre concept has been supported historically across the political spectrum in Burnaby. As a council member and past housing committee chair, I always believed it was important that there was a community “buy-in” to the town centre concept and densification. High density development outside the town centre has been restricted and successive councils have taken care to ensure that multi-family and commercial development in other areas has followed careful consultation.
There has never been much appetite for densification of single and two-family neighbourhoods and it is indeed surprising and a bit troubling that some aspiring politicians are advocating for it now.
Lee Rankin
Team Burnaby council candidate

Burnaby NewsLeader - Opinion

COLUMN: A surreal spin around Metrotown

Sometimes a bicycle ride can be a shock to the system, and not just because of potholes.
Riding around Burnaby can be illuminating in showing how the city is changing. But every once in a while the experience can be somewhat surreal.
That was the case a couple of times this summer. The first came during a trip from Vancouver through the streets north of Hastings. When I emerged at Willingdon my eyes were saying, “Hey, something’s different.”
It was a pleasant enough sight. A nice piece of green space at the southwest corner of the city’s Confederation Park property. Still, it was surreal.
What was missing was the iconic Burnaby Heights Resource Centre.
Later in the summer, while moseying along the path underneath the SkyTrain, a pile of rubble appeared with a previously unseen skyline behind it.
After doing a double take, the realization hit me that the last remaining warehouses from a bygone era had been knocked down at Telford and Beresford. Prior to the arrival of rapid transit and the mega-mall, the Metrotown area was dominated by warehouses.
The demolition was done to make way for a reach-for-the-sky highrise project. Similar forty-something storey construction sites have begun at Nelson and Bennett, and Kingsway and Willingdon.
For the longest time, Burnaby’s ‘highrises’ were in the 20s, storey wise. A few years ago, along came Centrepoint, which is on the other side of Kingsway from Metropolis at Metrotown. It was billed as the tallest building in Burnaby at 35 storeys.
These new ones will soar above Centrepoint. Good on them.
So far the city is restricting these tall drinks of concrete and glass to Metrotown. The area needs them, although not everybody would agree.
Since its inception, the vibrancy of Metrotown has grown gradually. It is just starting to come into its own as a place to be and reside. To take it to a Yaletown or Coal Harbour dynamic, it still needs more people, and the new projects will go a long way to providing it.
Since they’re on a rapid transit line, it’s also a close-to-perfect place for them.
It’s ironic the Burnaby Municipal Greens slate is upset about the changes proclaiming the area is already overcrowded and city facilities such as the library and Bonsor Recreation Centre too clogged. That position seems contrary to green thinking. One accepted way to reduce the environmental footprint is by increasing density in certain areas because it will reduce the need to travel. And the bonus is because the projects are going where no developer has gone before in Burnaby, the builders are forking over cash or constructing amenities to service the area’s residents.
The other benefit of higher density is an infusion of even more people to the area will actually make Metrotown safer. That’s been shown to be the case in Vancouver’s high-density areas.
What will be interesting to see in the next few years is whether or not this new construction will trigger a makeover of all the low-rise rental buildings between the SkyTrain and Imperial. The view from the current towers often is blighted by the tar-papered roofs of these buildings. They are no urban eye-candy from street-level either.
Some would disparage any thought of tearing those buildings long past their best-before dates down, labeling it gentrification. It sure would increase Metrotown’s attractiveness, though. There is some fear of a loss of rental stock, but chances are all the new highrises and the low-rise buildings that would replace them would have a lot of condo/townhouse owners looking to sublet and might just increase the stock.
One thing’s for sure, if they were transformed it would be yet another surreal sight in the ever-evolving Metrotown community.
• Grant Granger is a NewsLeader reporter, and maintains the biggest blight in Metrotown are the blue escalators in Sears that have been there since he was a kid.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Willingdon Park office complex wins award

The Willingdon Park business complex on the 4300 block of Still Creek Drive has won an award in the Excellence Award category.

Burnaby Now Article

'Excellence' awarded


Burnaby's Willingdon Park was voted most excellent in the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's Commercial Building Awards.
The business park won an Excellence Award in the office category at the awards, held at the end of September in Vancouver.
The park won for the final two buildings in the development, Phase 8 and Phase 9.
"These phases possess many sustainable elements and amenities for an active community creating a campus-like feel," according to the board's statement on the winners. "The building itself is a strong architectural statement framed by massive arches and attractive light spires."
For more information on the winners, go to
It may have been located in Burnaby for decades, but Telus just recently purchased the land along Canada Way that houses its customer contact centre.
The company paid $30 million for the property at 4519 and 4535 Canada Way, which covers nearly 250,000 square feet, according to a press release from the company. The company had a mortgage on the land for more than 20 years prior to buying it, the release stated.
"This purchase extends our already deep roots in Burnaby," Andrea Goertz, Telus senior vice-president of strategic initiatives, said in a press release. "Telus has called Burnaby home for more than 100 years, and the city continues to play a key role in Telus' national operations. We have more team members in Burnaby than any other city in Canada, and are pleased to be one of the city's largest employers, taxpayers, and commercial property holders."
Grand Villa Casino, a Burnaby Board of Trade member, is taking the board's focus on addressing homelessness in the city seriously.
The casino recently donated $4,261 to the Progressive Housing Society to fund its mobile homelessness outreach unit, and donated prizes to the society's 30th anniversary silent auction fundraiser, according to an email from the casino's executive manager of marketing, Brenda Smith.
The casino's employees also held a clothing drive for the society, to provide clothing for the homeless.
The casino also donated $3,409 to Burnaby Meals on Wheels in support of the organization's two new initiatives; supporting Progressive Housing's homelessness outreach programs with fresh milk, eggs and fruit; and a co-operative local fruits and vegetables purchasing program called the Burnaby Harvest Box.
Earlier this year, the casino sponsored Burnaby Family Life Institute's 40th anniversary celebration.
Have an item for Movers and Shakers? Send it to reporter Janaya Fuller-Evans by email at jfuller-evans@

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Higher, concentrated density or lower, spread out density?

The following letter by a resident of Burnaby to the Burnaby NewsLeader highlights the debate about taller buildings in concentrated town centres versus the idea of spreading the density around throughout the city as Rick McGowan of the Burnaby Green Party is suggesting.  Rick McGowan has repeatedly written to local newspapers arguing that the City of Burnaby has somehow underhandedly snuck in changes to Burnaby bylaws to allow for greater density in town centres such as Brentwood with density bonus money being provided by developers for community amenities.  Although Mr. McGowan has suggested that public consultation did not take place when increased densities were approved, a public hearing was publicized in local newspapers by way of notices.  I even had occasion to attend the public hearing at which no opposition to the bylaw amendment was expressed.

In my opinion, in order to preserve the tranquility of single family neighbourhoods, it is important to build up town centres with increased densities where certain demographics of people can live, work, shop and play without venturing too far away from their homes.  With the boundaries set for town centres limiting high density there, single family neighbourhoods outside of those boundaries will be able to continue to exist with less pressure from high density developments in the long term.

Why sacrifice single family neighbourhoods?

I worked hard to find and buy a nice single family home in Burnaby close to schools and community amenities. I chose my home knowing that it was zoned as a single family neighbourhood.
I now read that Burnaby’s upstart Green Party wants to jam high density housing in single family neighbourhoods rather than town centres that have been planned by Burnaby for decades. If Rick McGowan and his Green cohorts have their way, the single-family neighbourhoods that we cherish in Burnaby will face an unprecedented threat. Our property values will go down and the stability and tranquility of our neighbourhoods will be destroyed.
McGowan chose to live in a Metrotown condominium. That’s his choice. But please don’t foist your lifestyle on those of us who have worked for and earned the right to live in peace in our single family neighbourhoods. We don’t need any Green party densification of our Burnaby neighbourhoods. At least the two mainstream civic parties support the town centre concept and haven’t disrupted low-density neighbourhoods.
I trust the voters of Burnaby will have the good sense to reject the civic Green Party if this kind of densification of our single family neighbourhoods represents their approach to planning.
J.S. (Jas) Parmar

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pasta Amore: A place to eat Italian food

Pasta Amore, located at on Dawson and Willingdon, was mentioned in the following Burnaby Now article that also ran in The Province.  Having eaten there with my wife and kids, I must say that Pasta Amore is one of the better Italian restaurants of North Burnaby.

For the love of pizza

Claudio Magagnin, left, supervises as Amedeo Paniccia bakes up another pizza at Pasta Amore Pizzeria, just off Willingdon.

Claudio Magagnin, left, supervises as Amedeo Paniccia bakes up another pizza at Pasta Amore Pizzeria, just off Willingdon.

Photograph by: Alfie Lau, BURNABY NOW

The sign is hard to miss. Head north on Willingdon Avenue and just before you hit Dawson Street, the sign for Claudio Magagnin's Pasta Amore now has the word Pizzeria attached to it.
And adding the one word doesn't mean just adding to the menu, as Magagnin has brought in authentic Italian thincrust pizza cooked with an authentic Italian flair.
Magagnin had brought in an authentic Italian pizza chef to do the cooking, but after he had to leave because of a family emergency, Magagnin conscripted an old friend, Amedeo Paniccia, to work the pizza oven.
"I've known Amedeo for many years," said Magagnin. "He's from Rome and we used to work together at Portofino (restaurant). When I asked him for help, he was right there."
Paniccia has known Magagnin for more than 20 years, and there was never a doubt what he would say.
"We're friends so when he asked me to help, I said sure. I love making pizza, pizza like it's made back in Italy," said Paniccia.
"I've been in (the Lower Mainland) for a long time, and I haven't had a chance to make pizza the Italian way. . That means a light crust, less ingredients, but an emphasis on the best ingredients, the best sauce and the best dough."
Magagnin recently invested in a new pizza oven and special dishes from Tuscany, which have diners already raving.
Magagnin, who I talked to in the spring about his pasta dishes, is so excited by his foray into pizza that he held several tasting nights recently to introduce his pizza to Burnaby.
With more than 25 different pizzas on the menu, there is a little something for everybody, including a mouthwatering dessert pizza.
As I sat down with my dining companions, my older sister Hayley and her husband Stuart, along with Burnaby NOW salesperson Cam Northcott, we were warmly greeted by Claudio's wife Maria.
When last we talked, Maria marvelled at her husband's risk-taking: "He's always trying something different," said Maria.
And our first pizza was certainly that, as the artichoke pizza was a unique twist on vegetarian pizza.
My sister isn't a vegetarian but she loved this pizza, which was light and flavourful.
The surprises continued with our next pizza, the Napoletana, which features anchovies and oregano.
The 30-cm pizzas - which range in price from $10 to $16 each depending on the toppings - are a perfect dinner size.
But the best was still yet to come.
"I've only got a couple of slices of the Nutella and coconut pizza," Maria tells us. "But, I'll be back with more."
Within minutes, there she is, and we can all try the unique dessert pizza.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a Nutella fan, but I absolutely adore coconut. I bite hesitantly into the pizza, and suddenly I like Nutella lot more. The dessert pizza is something you won't find at most places, and once I got over my fear, it ranked as one of my favourites of the night.
Pasta Amore Ristorante Pizzeria is at 4502 Dawson St. Call 604-298-3135 or go to

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