Monday, January 30, 2012

Fiji Canada Association building demolished

The Aviara project site preparation continues as the Fiji Canada Association building has been demolished and fenced off.  The commercial building next to it has also been fenced off and will surely be part of the development at Douglas Rd and Halifax St.

This past summer, a commercial building on Gilmore Ave was demolished to begin prep for Aviara.  I noticed that the building next to it on Gilmore Ave has also been fenced off and will certainly be part of the project.  The only thing that will remain on the triangled parcel of land will be the Tierra Sol building that sits at the corner of Gilmore and Halifax.

Debate over heights; Frank Di Cesare

Another response has been written to the Burnaby NewsLeader on the issue of building heights.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Letters to the Editor
Brentwood towers will bring more prosperity
Published: January 30, 2012 10:00 AM 

Re: Towers in town centres just make sense (Letters, NewsLeader, Jan. 27)
I totally agree with Miguel Reimer's letter where he describes the pros of the proposed transformation of Brentwood Town Centre.
Rick McGowan should take a deep breath and reduce his negative attitude on this issue.
With every change there are always pros and cons, but in this case the pros far outweigh the cons.
The projection for the next decade shows that the population of Burnaby will increase by thousands and thousands of people. If the projection is right where are all these people going to live? Geographically, we don't have much room to spread laterally, so the only thing to do, as Mr. Reimer points out, is go upwards.
I attended the meeting at Brentwood mall on the subject a couple of weeks ago. I looked at the project, asked a few questions, and came home with a positive outlook on the future look of our neighbourhood. The transformation will make our area an even more prestigious neighbourhood to live in. It will also increase the value of our properties.
As for the cons, let's direct our energy towards those issues with our politicians.
But, as I said before, let's not cut the apple tree because of few rotten apples!
Frank Di Cesare

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NW corner of Brentwood Mall expansion could be less abrupt

I had a chance to walk along the back of Brentwood Mall today to try and imagine where the development will take place back there.  Immediately behind the mall are the single-family homes of Brentwood Park.  The rear lane separating the mall from the houses can be seen below (right).

A 30-story tower is envisioned somewhere in this view.  The houses on the
other side of the hedges will be overshadowed by the new tower if built as
envisioned in the current plan recently displayed by Shape Properties. 

A good transition along the edges of differing zones should see a blending of the neighbourhoods at their meeting points.  The current concept to build a 30-story residential tower at the northwest end of Brentwood Mall will create an abrupt transition from "town centre" to "single family" neighbourhood.  The houses along Brentlawn Drive are presently separated by a rear lane and a fence that runs along the northern length of the mall property.  Such a swift change will negatively impact the houses directly behind the mall just off of Willingdon Ave.

The abrupt transition in the northwest corner is in sharp contrast to the long-term plan of having townhouses built at the rear of the mall roughly halfway between Willingdon and Beta Aves.  The townhouses will create a good transitional buffer between the mall and the houses behind it.

If this has been considered for the north of the mall, there is no reason why it cannot be considered for the northwest part as well.  Lower buildings could still be built in place of the tower currently in the plan. The 30-story tower should be moved further south and push the other towers further south along Willingdon.  If the 30-story tower is built further south, the developer may be able to build it taller to 40 stories since there would be a greater distance from the houses on Brentlawn.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pedestrian safety a growing concern

The following story in the Burnaby Now highlights the dangers faced by pedestrians, including children, on a daily basis in Burnaby.  The stretch of Gilmore in front of Kitchener Elementary School does not have a curb separating the road from the sidewalk which incidentally is made of gravel.  From reading the story, there are differing views on the level of safety that exists around the school.  On the one side, there are parents and children that say they are faced with dangerous drivers while walking to school with their children whereas the City of Burnaby's David Kilpatrick says that safety has improved because a new drop-off area has been created behind the school.  It looks like he's forgotten about the children that walk to school.

Close calls spark demand for improvements

Parents say drivers are speeding through crosswalk

Read more:]

Parents at Kitchener Elementary who are worried for their children's safety want improved visibility around the school's crosswalk.
"The issue is the cars are obviously going too fast along Gilmore, north and south, and our little crossing is right in the middle of Gilmore," said Melody Eng, chair of the school's parent advisory council. "We feel the crosswalk isn't what it could be. . We'd like to see the crossing made more visible and safer."
Kitchener is in the Willingdon Heights area and faces Gilmore Avenue. The main crosswalk in front of the school is marked with standard signs that the city provides for local schools, but Eng said it's not enough to slow traffic.
"If you stand out there, you can see how fast the traffic goes," she said. "People are whizzing by."
Eng said drivers could go right through the crosswalk and not see a child stepping out into the street, and there has been at least one case where a child was almost hit by a driver.
About two months ago, Claude Tani was walking his seven-year-old daughter to school when she was nearly struck.
"She was walking in front of me, she stepped out on the crosswalk and a car came zooming by, and I had to pull her back," he said.
One night, Tani and another parent were almost hit while leaving a PAC meeting at the school.
"Both of us had to run off the crosswalk to get out of the way, because the car didn't slow down at all," he said.
The school has had help from volun-teers with a Speed Watch program at the community policing office on Hastings. They stand with radar guns and a sign that tells people how fast they are going and to slow down if they are over the speed limit. People who speed get their licence-plate numbers written down and the community policing office sends out warning letters. Occasionally, RCMP will issue tickets if they are on site. Kitchener also has student crossing guards out after school.
To make matters worse, vehicles parked around the school can limit visibility around the crosswalk, so the City of Burnaby has put up some barricades to limit parking. The parents have also asked for better crosswalk signage from the school district.
Eng has two children attending Kitchener and has been working on this problem for four years. Parents are often out in front of the school, putting out pylons to prevent further parking congestion.
"Every morning, we are out there at 8 a.m.," she says, "It's all on us, its up to the parents to do something. . We're very vocal, it just seems that things don't seem to get done."
David Kilpatrick works for the City of Burnaby's bylaw enforcement office and focuses on traffic safety. He's visited Kitchener to enforce traffic bylaws but hasn't had to issue any tickets since the parking barricades went in last year.
"Kitchener is one of 42 elementary schools I have been going to for a lot of years, but that school has inherent challenges for traffic that are consistent with a lot of schools," he said.
Part of the problem is Gilmore Avenue has a lot of traffic, it's on a hill and there are no curbs in the school block.
Parents dropping kids off in front of the school can be a dangerous practice, Kilpatrick said. It's better to drop them off a block away or in existing designated drop-off areas, he added.
"At the end of the day, the safety around the school really has to do with the attitude of the parents and the drivers alike," he said. "They have to develop and foster an awareness of the concerns when the kids are out in traffic."
Kilpatrick said there's a new set of stairs at the back of the school, installed last summer, where parents can drop their kids off.
"Since that occurred, I've seen a definite improvement," he said.

Read more:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Debate over heights; Miguel Reimer

The debate over heights in Burnaby's town centres continues as someone has written a response to Rick McGowan's criticism of the potential heights of buildings resulting from a bylaw change last year.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Letters to the Editor

Building up makes more sense in Burnaby's town centres

Re: Time to reject tall towers (Letters, NewsLeader, Jan. 25)
I'm not sure where Mr. McGowan thinks all people moving to and wanting to move to Metro Vancouver will live if we don't build up, especially in areas well served by transit such as Burnaby's four town centres. I live in a condo in the Brentwood Town Centre area, and I say bring on the taller towers.
I've seen the letters to the editor Mr. McGowan has written over the last six months, all seemingly about this one issue, suggesting that we instead spread the density around. If we spread the density around to areas that are not as well served by transit, we are simply adding more cars on the road.
Sure we could add more buses to drive down all these other streets, but guess where most of these additional buses would end up going to. Yup, most will be going to the closest SkyTrain station. It wouldn't make sense from a cost nor time perspective to have all these additional buses drive across Metro Vancouver. This is a large part of the problem that many routes south of the Fraser have—the population is so spread out that they have to run more and longer routes to even try to serve a similar percentage of the population, which increases transit costs per person significantly.
So then why not build the density within walking distance to the SkyTrain, the mall, all of the restaurants, etc? In addition to not needing all the additional buses just to drive people to the SkyTrain, you would capture all the people who will happily take SkyTrain, but would rather drive than even take a short ride on a bus. It may not make sense to you, Mr. McGowan, but there are a lot of people out there that feel that way, and I am one of them.
Also, as demonstrated by the experience next door in Vancouver, it will most likely be easier to convince people already living in towers to accept more and taller towers in their area, than for single family neighborhoods to accept even four or six storey low-rises.
I have one point of agreement with what Mr. McGowan has said in the past, that Metrotown SkyTrain station is too small and overcrowded. It has been that way for 10 years now. However, instead of just complaining and saying build homes elsewhere, I suggest Mr. McGowan push for TransLink, Burnaby City Council, mall owners and developers to provide the funds to finally do the badly needed renovation/expansion of the Metrotown SkyTrain station and bus loop.
Miguel Reimer

Up to 10 towers over 50 years for Brentwood Mall

The Brentwood Mall Redevelopment (BMR) is beginning to garner increasing attention early into 2012.  The following story in the Burnaby NewsLeader has brought out some more details of what we can expect for the BMR.  The Entertainment Plaza was discussed in the interview and it seems that a gathering place to watch high-profile sporting events such as Canucks playoff games is envisioned.  It was also mentioned that as many as 10 towers will eventually rise on the site over the long term.

Burnaby NewsLeader - News

Brentwood Town Centre redevelopment continues to take Shape

This artist’s rendering shows a concept layout of the Brentwood Town Centre property, where future buildings may be located (in light brown) as well as better integration between the mall and the existing Brentwood SkyTrain station at lower left.
Shape Properties Corp.

North Burnaby could soon have a community gathering place as part of the proposed redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre.
The concept plans by the mall's owner, Shape Properties Corp., includes a proposal for an entertainment plaza at the corner of Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, which would serve as a focal point for the site.
Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice-president of Shape Properties, which purchased the mall property in 2010, said the plaza would be large enough to host events such as Christmas celebrations with a big tree, Canucks playoff games on a big-screen TV and street buskers on weekends.
It's just one aspect of a massive makeover being planned for the 28-acre mall site.
Interest is certainly strong, judging by the turnout of about 300 people at a recent open house on the project.
Kwiatkowski credited Burnaby city hall's consistent planning policy for ensuring there are "no surprises, people know this is planned for mixed-use, higher density, town centre, SkyTrain."
There were some concerns raised, he noted, largely about the potential for increased traffic shortcutting through area neighbourhoods.
Kwiatkowski suggested that most people driving to the mall currently use Lougheed or Willingdon to get there and that existing traffic issues are related to recent housing developments east of the mall.
In any case, the company is not proposing any new access points on nearby streets that don't currently have them already and will keep the concerns in mind during its planning process.
Master plan in the works
A master plan is currently being developed for the site. Once that receives approval from Burnaby city council, the focus will shift onto rezoning processes for each phase of the project.
Kwiatkowski noted that the company is taking a longterm view of the property of up to 50 years. Over that time, it expects to build six to 10 towers of varying heights on the site.
"It sounds like a lot but it's not when you consider the site is 28 acres," he said, noting the footprint of an average tower is about 8,000 square feet.
The first towers, about six in total, would be focused on the Lougheed and Willingdon frontages, with the highest densities closest to Brentwood SkyTrain station. Heights and densities would decrease the closer they get to the adjacent single-family neighbourhood to the north.
Parking would be moved underground and the site transformed with streetscapes, landscaping and streetfront retail.
Kwiatkowski said the company is considering potentially locating towers, either office or residential, over top of the existing mall buildings in the future.
He stressed that such a move would not involve shutting down and rebuilding the mall. If they went ahead, it would likely involve closing off and installing hoarding around one section of the mall at a time to allow for construction of the towers.
Outside, public open spaces would be built, with the main one at Lougheed and Willingdon. That corner would be the focal point for an entertainment component of the site, which would include restaurants, outdoor-oriented retail and possibly movie theatres.
He described it as a "very vibrant and cool urban space" within a multi-level structure.
That corner would also see improved integration with the SkyTrain station. The bus loop would be moved onto Lougheed and Willingdon and SkyTrain passengers would be able to walk off the station platform and straight into the entertainment plaza.
"If the train stops at Brentwood you'll want to get off because it's right there," Kwiatkowski said.
Brentwood 'a natural' for development
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan noted that focusing density around SkyTrain stations is part of the compromise city hall made to protect single-family neighbourhoods in the city.
Brentwood is served by three SkyTrain stations so it's "a natural" for redevelopment, Corrigan said, noting that redevelopment of the mall site is likely in response to the success of other such projects nearby.
"I think that this is going to create a really interesting urban centre and something that's going to ultimately increase the value of properties around it. We'll have to go through that process to see what the public is concerned about."
Kwiatkowski said the next public open house on the project will take place sometime in March at the earliest. If everything goes as planned, construction could start next year.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Debate over heights; Rick McGowan

Rick McGowan has made some good points on why residents of Burnaby did not speak on the issue of increased density allowances being approved with changes to Burnaby bylaws governing density in the city's town centres such as Brentwood.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Letters to the Editor

Burnaby reaching new heights, and residents should say 'enough'

With word of yet more tall towers being proposed or under construction in the Metrotown and Brentwood areas, it bears repeating that the zoning changes that allow them were introduced by this current council without proper consultation with the residents most affected. The Supplementary Community Benefit Bonus Policy or “S-zoning” was not something that residents asked for. It was conceived by planners and developers as a way to build the tax base and maximize profits on a limited supply of land.
At the public hearing held in November 2010, there were no submissions made by the public regarding changes to the bylaw. Perhaps people in the town centres did not recognize that “the proposed zoning bylaw "text amendments" to provide a Supplementary Community Benefit Bonuses” meant high rises would double in height from 30 to 60 storeys.
When new rezoning applications are brought to public hearing, we see both support and opposition. Support comes from businesses, of course, and residents that live well outside the town centers. Understandably, opposition comes from those residing in the shadow of these projects. The concerns raised in Brentwood are raised in Metrotown and will certainly be raised in Edmonds, Lougheed and even UniverCity when the time comes. Control and development in our city is in the hands of a very small well-organized minority. If residents of the four town centres hope to bend the ear of council on this issue, they must come together organized and united and say “enough is enough!”
Rick McGowan,
Burnaby Municipal Green Party

Thursday, January 19, 2012

City of Burnaby bylaw failure or a lack of foresight?

Until I recently attended the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment Open House, I was under the impression that when a brand new house is built, the builders are required by the City of Burnaby to pave a sidewalk along the property or pay the City to pave it for them.  A City of Burnaby representative at the Open House mentioned that individual house builders are not required by law to build a sidewalk when constructing a new house.  The following house at Delta Ave and Halifax St on the west side of Delta Ave was built about 2 years ago and has no sidewalk in front of it.  Lucky for the owner that they don't have to worry about shovelling a sidewalk.  Pedestrians (including children and the elderly) that need to get to Ridgelawn Drive from Brentwood Park Elementary and beyond along Delta are required to walk in the southbound lane on Delta to get to their destination.  As the photos below show, this stretch can be very busy as Brentlawn Drive, Halifax Street and the lane behind Brentlawn Drive all join Delta Ave within a few meters of each other while pedestrians and drivers try to get to wherever they are going.  A lady pushing a baby stroller had to walk in the road to get to her destination.  I think she had just finished dropping her child off at school on Delta Ave.

When walking southbound on the west side of Delta, the sidewalk ends soon after one crosses at Brentlawn Drive.  The absence of a sidewalk continues until Ridgelawn Drive.

Regardless of how this has occurred, somebody has failed somewhere along the line.  The question remains, who is responsible when a tragedy occurs?  We can't just right it off and say "Oops, we never foresaw that happening!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

BMO Brentwood moving to make room for redevelopment

Businesses occupying the outer stores of Brentwood Mall will be required to move out of their current locations by October to make way for phase 1 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment (BMR).  Phase 1 of the BMR will involve the extension of the mall outward with the building of retail space that will front the north side of the "high street fashion district".  This extension of the mall will coincide with the Entertainment Plaza (EP) which will occupy the area immediately northwest of Brentwood Station.

The Bank of Montreal has been in that location for as long as I can remember.  I wonder where it will end up after the BMR is completed.

With the installation of turnstiles and smart card readers in the Millennium Line stations commencing this year, the BMR will certainly be coordinating its activities with TransLink when Brentwood Station undergoes its retrofits.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Solo District in the NewsLeader


New Brentwood-area project could start in July, include grocery store


Construction on a major development at the southwest corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway could start as soon as July, with the first phase to include a 42,000-square-foot space for a proposed grocery store.
That's according to a brochure released by Colliers International to promote leasing of retail space in the new project, dubbed Solo.
If it receives final approvals from city hall, the development, by Jim Bosa's Appia Group, would be built on just over six acres and eventually include four residential towers totalling 1,351 units and about 260,000 square feet of office space.
The proposed first phase would comprise a 45-storey residential tower with 374 units, the proposed grocery store and an additional 10,700 square feet of retail space.
The proposed second phase, estimated to start construction in January 2013, would include a 48-storey tower with 284 housing units, a 12,500-square-foot proposed pharmacy, a 4,800-square-foot proposed bank, another 4,300 square feet of retail or restaurant space, and about 250,000 square feet of office.
The brochure estimates phase three would start construction in July 2013 on a 39-storey tower with 328 units and 12,900 square feet of retail space. Phase four would consist of a 43-storey tower with 365 units, almost 14,500 square feet of retail and 10,300 square feet of office space. That is estimated to begin building in January 2014.
When the four phases are complete, the project is proposed to have 1,968 parking stalls for residents, 445 spots for the retail users and 530 spaces for the office users.
The proposed grocery store, pharmacy, and bank would be built along the Lougheed frontage while much of the offices would front onto Willingdon.
A "high street" would be built cutting through the site, running east-west, featuring retail storefronts, pedestrian walkways and street furniture. According to a city staff report last fall, the entire project aims to be pedestrian friendly with front doors of commercial spaces opening directly to the street.
The development site, bounded by Willingdon, Lougheed, Rosser Avenue and the north lane behind Dawson Street, currently includes a car dealership, Milestone's restaurant, auto-repair shop and other light industrial properties.
An earlier proposal for the site which received second reading in 2008 comprised two highrise office buildings, three highrise apartment towers and ground-oriented commercial and retail.
Since then, Burnaby council adopted a change to the city’s zoning bylaw expanding density bonus provisions to certain zones within the four town centres of Brentwood, Metrotown, Lougheed and Edmonds.
As a result, the developer produced a new plan that takes advantage of the potential added density.
Units will range in size from 413-square-foot studios to 1,750-square-foot three-bedrooms-plus-den units. Five per cent, or 68 units, will be adaptable for persons with disabilities, said the staff report.
The developer plans to build to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard, and the project now includes significant plaza and open green space.
As part of the density bonusing program, the developer will provide an amenity bonus for the first phase of more than $8.8 million. Of that, $2 million will come in the form of a 4,570-square-foot city-owned community space on-site and $6.8 million cash-in-lieu to be used for future Brentwood area amenities. Of that, $1.36 million will be designated for affordable and special needs housing projects.
Each of the four phases will require its own rezoning process.

Solo District to begin construction this summer

I initially became aware of this project over a year ago when a reader pointed out It is a great discussion site that focuses on major high-rise developments around the world.  I occasionally use this to search for information on topics relevant to this blog.  This morning, I was able to find a promotional pamphlet at SkyscraperPage.

It appears that the massive projects at the SW and NE corners of Willingdon and Lougheed will begin to unfold simultaneously.  While the pending Brentwood Mall Redevelopment is in its consultation phase, the Solo District Project will be moving ahead.  A pamphlet by Colliers International indicates that the construction of Solo District is expected to begin in 2012 with a 42, 000 sf grocery store and a 45 story residential tower in the northwest corner of the site.  The following info is from the Colliers International site and lists the proposed phasing of the project.

As the map below shows, the grocery store will be accompanied by a proposed pharmacy, bank, and an office tower.

The "high street" will see smaller shops facing inward (south) from Lougheed Hwy. and above-ground parking will be provided.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brentwood Sky January 10, 2012

Though I was running late, I just had to pull out my camera for these shots on my way to the station this morning.

Brentwood Entertainment Plaza to begin construction by 2013

I had an opportunity to check out the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment Open House last night.  There was a lot of information to digest along with a variety of comments on the development.  Below is a link to the Shape Properties site with the same visuals that were set up at the Open House available for online viewing.

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment to occur in phases

The project will take place in several phases over several years.  The map below shows where the phases will occur.

Entertainment Plaza completed in 3 years

Representatives of Shape Properties indicated that the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment (BMR) will begin with the Entertainment Plaza (EP) as Phase 1 of the project.  The EP will include the "Fashion District High Street" which project representatives likened to Robson Street with space for pedestrians and a road for cars to go through between Willingdon and Lougheed with parking along both sides.  Another representative made the comparison to Park Royal in West Vancouver.  The EP will be an all-weather gathering place.  It was mentioned that there would be a stage for live performances and speaking. Shape Properties hopes to get approval to move ahead with this phase by the end of this year and begin construction in 2013.  The EP is expected to take 3 years to build and will include an open plaza surrounded by buildings and overhead walkways connecting to the existing mall.

Village District

The  construction of the Village District will begin roughly 3 years after the construction of the EP, according to representatives.  Representatives mentioned the probability of a grocery store in the Village District and envision specialty stores such as a meat shop, cleaners and other service oriented businesses.  The commercial building along Beta Ave at the eastern end of the site will feature a rooftop garden.  The Village District will also feature a small square.

Big Box area

With the expansion of the mall westward in the northwest part of the site geared towards the arrival of a Target Store (a representative mentioned that the retail giant wants to open a store in Brentwood), the retail space in this section will cater to larger stores.  A representative mentioned the possibility of a "Future Shop" type of store along with some other larger retailers to complete the range of shopping options at Bentwood Mall from small to large to big box retail amenities.

Both the Village and Big Box areas would be part of Phase 2a and Phase 2b of the project.

No Bus Loop

It was mentioned that the bus loop will disappear to make room for the EP and buses will line along Lougheed Hwy between Alpha & Willingdon and along Willingdon Ave between Lougheed & Halifax.  In order to change direction, the buses will enter the mall site and move along the high street to turn around.

Bike lanes and wider sidewalks

The plan for Willingdon and Lougheed involves widened sidewalks and separated bike lanes along their lengths adjacent to the mall site.  The sidewalk will be double lined with trees and on street parking is envisioned.

No Library/Community Centres for Brentwood

Representatives of the City of Burnaby were on hand to answer questions as well.  When asked about a library or community centre, it was stated that the amenities at Confederation Park in Burnaby Heights are meant to serve the needs of all of the northwest quadrant of Burnaby which includes Brentwood.

If this is the case, the widened sidewalk and separated cycling lane along the new Brentwood Mall needs to be extended beyond the mall along Willingdon all the way to Hastings in Burnaby Heights.  This will create meaningful connectivity between Brentwood and the Heights neighbourhood.  Human powered access needs to be given an opportunity as motor access has had exclusive reign for too long.

London Drugs space to be torn down

It was mentioned that the London Drugs building at the north end of the mall will eventually be removed in the "far off future" to make room for a future lower density townhouse development which will respect the tranquility of the Brentwood Park single-family homes immediately to the north the mall.

The peak of the Brentwood Skyline

A graphic (below) showing the current skyline with an outline of the future residential towers shows that the buildings will be the tallest in the Brentwood Neighbourhood and some of the tallest in Metro Vancouver.

Traffic in Brentwood Park a concern

Many residents of Brentwood Park brought up the issue of increased traffic in the neighbourhood that will result from the BMR.  A representative mentioned that perhaps TransLink take the #134 Brentwood Stn / Lake City Stn bus off Brentlawn Drive to ease traffic.  Although the bus along Brentlawn Drive has been the bane of the existence of many residents living along the stretch between Willingdon and Delta Avenues, more than merely removing the bus from there needs to be done to deal with traffic.  Many residents are talking about traffic calming measures such as speed bumps to deter rat runners.

Notables in attendance

- Burnaby Councillor Pietro Calendino was in attendance and was active in asking Shape representatives questions about the project.

- MLA Richard Lee took some time out from his busy photo op schedule to check out the Open House as the BMR will unfold directly across the street from his office on Willingdon Ave.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rude Rat Runner

It took only 7 days into the new year for a driver to hurl a swear word at me as they sped by at 70km per hour along Brentlawn Drive where I live.  The reason he yelled, "F*&k you!" at me was because I had yelled out, "Slow down!" as he whizzed by.  What a gem of a person he must be to think that he is too good to be told to lawfully obey the speed limit in a residential neighbourhood.  After all, who do I think I am wanting someone to drive safely at the speed limit or at least closer to it than at 70km per hour?

Speeding through Brentwood Park is going to become a bigger problem as more development occurs and the residents of the neighbourhood need to vocalize concerns about it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trees an issue for 2012 and beyond

The City of Burnaby will be having a public hearing in the spring of this year before visiting the issue of amending its tree bylaw which has been in place in its current form since 1996.  The tree bylaw is meant to protect Burnaby's trees from uncontrolled, rampant cutting by people hoping to create a view for their property or to remove limits imposed by trees to their monster home aspirations.  The current tree bylaw appears to be merely a minor nuisance (for tree haters) as it is difficult to enforce, and the penalties associated with illegal cutting appear to be a minor cost of doing business for developers.

The beauty of the Brentwood Park neighbourhood north of Brentwood Mall is due in part to the trees that line its streets of predominately bungalow-styled houses.  The trees are what make the streets in this neighbourhood appealing to pedestrians, particularly in the spring when the cherry trees are in full bloom.

Because the tree bylaw has been developed with good intentions, we cannot just dismiss it if it fails to do everything we need it to do.  As the example below shows, tree bylaws and programs can work.  The sapling below has joined a row of existing aging trees lining both sides of Brentlawn Drive.  The bylaw needs to have input from residents that have experienced its inadequacies.

The future Brentwood Mall Revelopment (BMR) will see its surrounding parking lots transformed into a "high street" lined with shops and trees along its length.  With many new developments, the trees that are added to new streets tend to be small saplings that, if they survive, will take many years to grow into medium-sized trees with trunks that are barely the diameter of a human's leg.  These are usually planted in place of larger, more majestic trees that were cut down to make room for the development.  The BMR will see the addition of more new trees to the area than currently exist on the mall lot.  My concern is of the large evergreen trees that currently exist on the east end of the mall property along Beta Ave towards the rear of the lot.

Some of the large evergreens east of Sears as seen from the Sears Rooftop. 

The BMR appears to envision a car parkade being built between Sears and Beta upslope towards the rear of the mall where the rooftop parking is currently located at level with the northeast Beta entrance to the rear of the mall.  This parkade will require the removal of the large evergreens located there.

The Shape Properties recent Notice of Open House states that the City of Burnaby Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan "indicates a significant public open space component" for the redevelopment.  In many high profile public spaces the presence of large evergreen trees have provided for Christmas light decorations that pedestrians have enjoyed during the festive Christmas season.  The transplanting of the large evergreens from their current perch atop the hill next to Sears to the area below dedicated to a public gathering place would make an immediate positive impact at ground level as well as for the inhabitants of the high-rises whose suites will be facing inwards towards the "high street".  The evergreen trees would make perfect Christmas trees during December and would make the mall site greener year-round.  Imagine that it's December sometime before Christmas and you are strolling along the busy "high street" at Brentwood Mall and in the distance you can see a stand of large, living, lit-up evergreens where pedestrians are gathered for various reasons ranging from waiting for friends, to sitting at a bench to enjoy a Tim Horton's tea (my personal dream) and there are tourists that are snapping pictures of friends and family with a large, real Christmas tree in the background.  The public place could have several of the large evergreens in the square dispersed throughout to create a "forest" or "grove".

Don't get me wrong, we could still use the smaller trees to line the rest of the "Village" and "Fashion" districts as well as along Lougheed and Willingdon to visually improve the area.  The cutting down of the large evergreens currently onsite would be a shameful waste of trees that took decades to reach their current heights and a missed opportunity to have "ready made" evergreens that would make an immediate positive impact in the public square.