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

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