Thursday, November 3, 2011

Municipal candidates share views on development and density

Tonight I will be attending the All-Candidates debate at Gilmore Elementary School to hear the candidates' views on development in the Brentwood Neighbourhood.  Over the past few weeks, some of the candidates have expressed some of their views on the concept of density as the election nears.  For anyone interested in going, the doors open at 6:30.  The following articles/letters are from the Burnaby Newsleader.

Burnaby NewsLeader

Protect neighbourhoods from rapid change: Murchie

Neighbourhoods around Burnaby’s SkyTrain stations are undergoing significant change as they are being redeveloped to accommodate higher densities. The planning department says it’s all according to its Official Community Plan, the basis of which was created in the 1960s. Other than occasional updates, Burnaby city hall has been working towards fulfilling that vision.
The NewsLeader asked three council candidates: What do you think about the pace of development in Burnaby?
Incumbent Coun. Colleen Jordan, Burnaby Citizens’ Association, is chair of the city’s community development committee and retired former secretary-treasurer for CUPE-BC.
“The key question is whether Burnaby can continue to grow as a diverse, modern city, while ensuring we maintain the values that make us a leader in Canada. The answer is a resounding yes!
Following our Official Community Plan (OCP), and in consultation with residents, we have increased density in our town centres, while preserving green space and single family neighbourhoods.
In the 1980s I lived in Middlegate. Over 30 years the new Highgate area has evolved, complete with new city facilities like a firehall, library, and recreation centre.  Private development replaced the mall, and new housing continues to expand. This is exactly what the OCP envisioned.
As one resident commented respecting the new plan to rebuild the [Station Square] Save-On-Foods site with a pedestrian-friendly urban village, ‘It’s about time.’
Too fast, or too slow, I would say it’s just about the right pace.”
Carrie McLaren, Burnaby Municipal Greens, currently works in the accounting office of a Burnaby firm while studying business at Capilano College.
“From just personal observation, the pace of development looks healthier than in the past few years. Two townhouse developments finally finishing up in my neighbourhood. They had been delayed for a few years leaving empty lots and holes in the ground due to the economic recession.
According to the city’s website numbers, 2011 so far has seen double the new construction starts of 2010. The overwhelming majority is single-family and multi-family developments. One item I’ve noticed, the city seems to depend on developers to create neighbourhood sidewalks—leaving them a patchwork of incomplete sections.
We will need to continue to replace, update and renovate older buildings and homes over the next 20 years or so, and find ways of creating new housing for future population growth (over one million in Lower Mainland cities in the next 30 years, according to Metro Vancouver). Also, we can’t forget the commercial and industrial sector if we are to continue to have a good mix of residential and business in Burnaby.”
Graham Murchie, Team Burnaby, is a retired urban planner.
“When I was Surrey chief planner, our growth rate was much higher than Burnaby’s now. We prepared for it, had up-to-date plans in place, and we talked to the residents, and required that developers consult residents too. Change happened without too much conflict because people knew what was happening. This is not the case in Burnaby today.
1. Burnaby’s plans are hopelessly out-of-date. The Metrotown plan, for example, is 34 years old! We need to create a new vision for Burnaby.
2. Our neighbourhoods must be protected from dramatic change, and residents must shape what happens. Council needs public input on how this growth is to occur, what to do about secondary suites, affordable housing, and so on.
3. The development process must be more open. In every community in B.C. developers are required to consult with the community before bringing forward a new proposal. This does not happen in Burnaby.”

Burnaby Newsleader

Density in Burnaby is good—to a point

I want to thank Lee Rankin for keeping the issue of densification in the spotlight. It gives the Municipal Green Party an opportunity to educate Team and the BCA about the Green position on the subject.
First of all, Greens support densification. Specifically we support densification within walking distance of transit hubs.
Owing to its geography, Burnaby is fortunate to have 11 Skytrain stations inclusive of the four town centre stations. The decision to densify four of them a half century ago might have been “visionary” at the time, but the world has changed considerably since the Sixties and Seventies (and so have the BCA).
I doubt most people of that time anticipated the worldwide changes in human migration, the reality of a global economy, climate change, ALR encroachment, or local food security.
Another misconception is that council has the capacity to rezone a property against the wishes of the property owner. If a homeowner wishes to rezone a property, they can apply to do so. Those owners with single and two family lots that had the good fortune to buy close to a SkyTrain hub deserve the opportunity to rezone their property to higher density, make a handsome profit from doing so and reduce the ecological footprint of the people that settle there in the future.
One point that we can agree upon with Mr. Rankin is the need for a community “buy-in” to densification.
As far as I can see, when the supplementary density bonus amendment “S-zoning” was introduced and unanimously approved by the current council, there was little, if any, public consultation or input.
New towers being constructed or considered are planned to be 50 to 100 percent taller than anything that existed in the town centers before. These projects will add to congestion and over-crowding. Greens believe the affected neighbourhoods were not given an opportunity to “buy-into” this S-zoning.
If the BCA and Team want to vilify Greens for trying to give a voice to people in the town centers then so be it.
Rick McGowan
Green candidate for city council

Burnaby NewsLeader

Burnaby residents support city centre concept

Published: October 20, 2011 4:00 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


  1. Nice blog -- you should enter our Burnaby muni election blog contest -- easy money since you're blogging anyway. Info:

    I'll be at the All-Candidates debate at Gilmore Elementary School tonight too, handing out leaflets promoting our blog contest. See you there! (I'll probably get there early to chat with attendees, then leave soon after it starts.)

    -- Mark Latham

  2. If anybody else that blogs or would like to blog and compete in Burnaby during the municipal election, check out the site posted above for more info. As it is, I'm the only one in Burnaby competing thus virtually making it a "no contest" advantage for BW Station. If you do not want to enter a blog, go online and vote for mine if you have the time!!!