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

1 comment:

  1. You missed the point of my letter. My complaint is with the lack of public consultation in amending the density bonus legislation that effectively doubles the existing heights of high rises. The question put forward at the public hearing was ambiguous. I find it odd that multiple referenda on preserving small pieces of land for parks can make it onto the ballot, but doubling density in selected areas is not referendum worthy.

    I favour a multipronged approach to densification which can include moderate increases in high rise heights with proper public consultation, additional floors on new low rise apartments and intensification of density in single family neighbourhoods within walking distance of Skytrain. Protecting at all costs an unsustainable single family house on a huge lot in what is otherwise an urban environment is simply short sighted and will ensure further decline in affordable housing.