Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prep for Solo District has begun

The old Nissan dealership and GoodYear Tire Service Centre sites have been fenced off and the buildings are being demolished to make way for the Solo District development.  Construction is expected to begin this summer.  So far, the Milestones restaurant is open for business as usual.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

30% of cars on Brentlawn go over 60 km/h

Wanting to have an idea of how many cars speed through Brentlawn Drive during rush hour, I decided to record the traffic between 4:35 and 5:59.  The distance within view of the camera being over 100 meters,  I timed how long it took for each car to pass through the view of the camera to get a rough average speed along the stretch in view of the camera.  The speeds are likely greater than I measured as I based my calculations on 100 meters and the distance is actually greater.  As the title suggests, many cars are well over the speed limit.  Travelling at 10 km/h over the speed limit on a major road is considered to be pushing the limits.  Doing the same thing on Brentlawn Drive is more than just pushing the limits; it is excessive.  To make it worse, the drivers were speeding while it was pouring rain.  Here is the breakdown of the stats:

A total of 315 cars were recorded passing through Brentlawn Drive between 4:35 and 5:59 on Friday February 24.  
  • 158 cars travelled below 55 km/h
  • 157 cars (49.8%) travelled in excess of 55 km/h
  • 96 cars (30.4%) travelled in excess of 60 km/h
  • 57 cars (18.1%) travelled in excess of 65 km/h
  • 27 cars (8.6%) travelled in excess of 70 km/h
  • 8 cars (2.5%) travelled in excess of 75 km/h
  • 2 cars travelled in excess of 80 km/h
There would have been higher speeds and more speeders if oncoming traffic had not slowed drivers down and if it hadn't been raining.

Here are some of the highlights (lowlights, really):

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are more roads needed to accommodate density?

The following letter-writer to the editor in the Burnaby NewsLeader is bringing a new twist to the density debate.  Garth Evans is suggesting that further high-rise construction should not be allowed until road capacity is expanded.

It appears that Evans' reasoning is based on the unsustainable status quo of road expansion that has been occurring over the past 75 years.

While he argues that more roads are needed before further development in Brentwood occurs,  Evans completely ignores the need for increasing and improving pedestrian access in our growing town centres as larger numbers of people will be walking and cycling to carry out their daily activities as density will bring a greater variety of amenities closer to their homes.  Evans' focusing on the "plight' of drivers that have had an easy, subsidized ride for the past 75 years of road building rage, and his ignoring the needs of pedestrians, is typical of someone that envisions a car-centred world.  I am afraid to imagine exactly what Evans envisions since we already have a car-centered world .

I believe that the approved widening of Willingdon Ave to add another lane there is an example of road expansion.  I also believe that the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and expansion of lanes along Hwy 1 currently being done is also an example of the road expansion that he talks about.  Why is Evans lamenting that we need more road expansion while ignoring the need for other forms of transportation when we have seen disproportionately more road expansion than any other form of transportation in not only in Metro Vancouver but all of Canada? Only he is able to answer that question.

Here is his letter to the Burnaby NewsLeader:

Burnaby NewsLeader - Letters to the Editor
Curb Burnaby development until a plan to expand roads is in place
Published: February 21, 2012 4:00 PM 

Recently Burnaby City Council has approved a number of new residential high rise buildings in the Metrotown area, including two of 45 and 46 storeys. Similar development is taking place in the Brentwood area.
I am concerned this new high density development is taking place without proper infrastructure planning. The traffic around Brentwood and Metrotown is a nightmare, and will only get worse as this new development comes on line.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, most of the new residents will want to travel by automobile and I don't think our road system will be able to cope with the additional demand. The road system can barely cope with existing demand in those areas and I haven't seen any plans from the city to deal with the resulting increase. No more such high density development should be approved in the Metrotown and Brentwood areas until the city comes up with a viable plan for expanding our road infrastructure to cope with the increase in demand.
Garth Evans

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An accident waiting to happen

The disorganized chaos at Beta Ave and Brentlawn Drive has been allowed to continue for years with no initiative being taken to improve safety at the intersection.  The following are factors that contribute to this intersection being an accident waiting to happen.

1) Abnormally aligned intersection. Because Brentlawn Drive changes direction (bends) at Beta, the visibility for drivers trying to cross Brentlawn is very limited as cars coming along Brentlawn are extremely difficult to see until the last moment only after pulling past the stop sign into the middle of the intersection to cross or make a turn.  Likewise, the visibility of cars pulling out from Beta Ave is limited for drivers coming along Brentlawn due to the bend in the street.

2) Brentlawn Dr is a local collector street.  The fact that many drivers use this street to cut through the neighbourhood at unhindered speeds makes this intersection dangerous to cross.  Vehicles approach this intersection at fast speeds and are not required to yield as no stop signs are in place for drivers on Brentlawn Dr.

3) Setback for stop signs on Beta are too great.  When drivers are stopped as per stop sign regulations, they are unable to see if it is clear to cross Brentlawn.  Although a setback is normally good, it is dangerous in this intersection because of the odd shape of this crossing.

4) Speed limit has never been enforced here.  I have never seen a car being pulled over for speeding even though drivers speed through here all day and night (cars are speeding by as I type this).

A major solution to ease the chaos here would be to install a 4-way stop with clearly marked pedestrian crossings between each corner.  The requirement of cars on Brentlawn to stop at Beta will prevent some of the situations seen in the video below.  This video shows some of the incidents that occurred within a 7-hour period during the day and does not show any of the pedestrian difficulties captured on camera.  The kind of stuff in this video happens all day, everyday at Brentlawn and Beta.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Traffic worsening on Brentlawn Drive

Because Brentlawn Drive is a local collecter street in Burnaby, many drivers will use it to avoid the traffic on Lougheed Hwy and Willingdon Ave to get to wherever they are going.  However, drivers don't just use Brentlawn during the day.  They will cut through here at night at high speeds without consideration for the residents. Many drive at excessive speeds through this residential neighbourhood.  Unless Brentlawn Drive is calmed with a combination of stop signs, bulges and/or speed humps, the number of inconsiderate drivers that whizz through at high speeds will only increase as the Brentwood Town Centre increases in population.

The following 12-minute compilation of video clips is from a 30-minute recording of traffic on Brentlawn Drive on Feb 10 from 3:00-3:30pm.

Speeding all night

The following footage of traffic on Brentlawn Drive was taken between 10:45 PM and 3:30 AM and shows how drivers speeding through this neighbourhood take liberties throughout the night.

Residents of Brentlawn appear to be organizing to present their concerns to the City.  Hopefully enough residents will voice their concerns to convince the City of Burnaby that it is significant enough of a problem that requires it to implement measures to improve this situation.

I hope this and other videos will give people an idea of the liberties that drivers tend to take when driving through Brentwood Park and other neighbourhoods like it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Debate over heights; Grant Granger

Burnaby NewsLeader writer Grant Granger has delved into the debate over density and heights with the following piece on February 2.  He echoes my argument that the city must take a longterm approach to development where 10 years should be considered short-term.  Future need for community amenities in the form of community centres, park space and schools needs to be factored in today before massive developments in the town centres price them out by taking up valuable land space.  Reacting to growth after the fact will be more costly and potentially prohibitive in the future.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Opinion

COLUMN: Building high, dense and vibrant in Burnaby

Burnaby is reaching for new heights. Some say that’s not a good thing, but it is.

Recently revealed plans call for tall towers at and around Brentwood Town Centre that will rise 30, 40 and 50 storeys, or more. Building such monstrosities is already underway in the Metrotown area.
Some say that’s too high because it blocks views, and decreases property values. The suggestion has been made that it would be better to spread the density throughout the city.
It’s going exactly where it needs to be.
Building near SkyTrain stations, where the town centres are, is a natural. Ever since the Expo Line first rolled into town in 1986, it has been a natural draw for residential buyers. They want to be close so they can get around the city quickly. Fast access to city hot spots is right out their door. They’ll be delivered to their destinations quicker than by vehicle, without having to fork over large chunks of their paycheque for gas, insurance and monthly payments.
The trendy term is eco-density, and it should be good for the city and the region in a couple of ways. First, it would mean fewer cars on the road. Second, if more people used SkyTrain that should be an economic justification for TransLink to put more trains in service. (The operative word in that sentence being “should.”)
Building density should be welcomed by business because it would drive the need for more retail and service outlets in the immediate area.
More people, more retail, more entertainment venues also mean more dynamic neighbourhoods. The city’s four town centres are slowly getting to the point where they are desirable places to be—especially Metrotown—for everyone, not just shoppers.
However, suburban-urbanites need more—much more—people and activity to even come close to rivaling the hip density neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s Yaletown, Coal Harbour and West End. However, building towers to the sky has other consequences for the city. They put pressure on planners to make sure there are enough city services to cope with the density. Sewer and waste capacity have to be taken into consideration. Community centres and parks have to be capable of handling mega-leaps in usage.
There also have to be enough schools to handle the increase in students. That can be a real doozy for the school district to deal with.
A few years back, with Maywood, Marlborough and many other elementary schools on the south side busting at the seams, the district actually got approval from the province to build a new school in the Metrotown area. One problem. They couldn’t find any land to put it on.
Plan B was to increase the capacity of other schools in the Kingsway corridor. Now that some projects have been completed some strain has been reduced.
Burnaby planners have always gone about their business slowly and methodically. Plans and visions have been on the books for years, even decades. The method to their madness has usually worked out. Their motto seems to be ‘Do it right, or not at all.’
Although increasing the density in Burnaby’s town centres is a good thing, it is still important the city stick to its modus operandi. Going too fast, and bowing to every developer’s whims, has proven costly to many a municipal politician in the past. In their haste to increase the tax base, city councils have actually made it worse on the community because consequences haven’t been taken into consideration.
Good planners think 50 years down the road. To them, 10 years is considered short term.
Everyone else should take the same approach.
• Grant Granger is a NewsLeader reporter

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Population increase will be absorbed by town centres

With the recent release of census figures, many articles have been written about the fact that cites like Burnaby have been outpacing Vancouver in population increases over the past 5 years.  North Burnaby has absorbed nearly half of the 20, 000 new Burnaby residents and the Brentwood area most likely saw much of the 11, 000 newcomers settling here.  It appears that the current rate of residential development in Brentwood may not be able to keep up with demand as the area continues to develop into a complete neighbourhood.

Burnaby's population up 10 per cent according to latest census numbers

By Alfie Lau, Burnaby NOW February 8, 2012
If Burnaby seemed just a bit more crowded in the last five years, those suspicions were confirmed with Wednesday morning's release of Stats Canada's 2011 Census of Population.
Burnaby now has 223,218 residents, an increase of more than 20,000 residents, from the 202,799 people who lived in the city in 2006. The 10.1 per cent increase is substantially higher than the 4.4 per cent increase in Vancouver, but slightly less than the 12.7 per cent increase in neighbouring New Westminster.
The increased Burnaby numbers mirror the overall increase across the country, as Canada's overall population increased 5.9 per cent, from 31,612,897 in 2006 to 33,476,688 in 2011. Canada's population increased 5.4 per cent between 2001 and 2006.
According to the Stats Canada report, the increase in the growth rate was attributable to a slightly higher fertility rate and to an increase in the number of non-permanent residents and immigrants.
Canada's population increased at a faster rate than the population of any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations between 2006 and 2011. This was also the case between 2001 and 2006.
Net international migration accounted for two-thirds of Canada's population growth during the last 10 years, with natural increase, or the difference between births and deaths, accounting for the other one-third increase.
Stats Canada also breaks down the numbers according to federal electoral districts. For the two Burnaby ridings, the percentage increase is roughly the same, as in Burnaby-Douglas, population increased from 112,119 to 123,275 in the last five years, an increase of 10 per cent.
In Burnaby-New Westminster, the numbers increased 11.1 per cent, from 118,713 to 131,917.

Read more:

Brentwood projects in Burnaby Now article

The following Burnaby Now article mentions the Solo District and Brentwood Mall Redevelopment projects on the same day that news of Burnaby's population growth has been mentioned in various articles on recent census reports.

The changing face of Brentwood

Solo development part of creating a more public and pedestrian-friendly area

Read more:

By Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now February 8, 2012

A new development in the Brentwood area may be flying Solo, but it won't go it alone.  The Solo development is the most recent addition planned for the North Burnaby neighbourhood, clustered around Brentwood SkyTrain Centre.
Brentwood Town Centre is working on a redevelopment plan as well, to make it more of a pedestrian-oriented urban centre, according to the material presented at an open house at the mall in January.
The master plan rezoning open house - presented by mall owner Shape Properties Corp. and James K. M. Cheng Architects - looked at transforming the town centre with more public spaces, and indoor and outdoor shopping.
Some of the principles presented at the open house included making sure the site entrances were "inviting and compelling," respecting the connection to the single-family neighbourhood in the surrounding area, making it pedestrian friendly and safe, and turning the centre into a compelling destination.
The mall has a second open house and public hearing planned later in the year.
As for the Solo project to the southwest of Brentwood Town Centre, it too is focusing on a pedestrian-friendly layout.
The Solo District Shopping Centre is slated to include four highrise towers with 1,351 units of residential space, according to the project developer, Appia Group.
Appia, headed by Jim Bosa, recently released its leasing brochure for the project.
Phase 1 of the project - building a 45storey residential tower, with retail space including a grocery store - is estimated to start in July, depending on presales, according to the leasing brochure.
The plans also include space for a pharmacy, shop or restaurant, and bank in Phase 2.
The last phase of the project - the 43storey residential, commercial and office tower - is expected to being in January 2014.
Plans include space for a high street, to be known as Sumas Street, in the centre of the development.
Bosa could not be reached for comment on the new development before press time.
The residential towers would range in height from 39 storeys to 48 storeys, and the development is also slated to include a 13-storey office tower, with retail and commercial space at the ground level, according to a report presented by the city's planning director, Basil Luksun, last September.
News of the Solo development did not thrill everyone who attended the public hearing on the project last September.
The site is currently home to an auto dealership with vehicle storage space, a restaurant, an auto repair shop and other light industrial and manufacturing businesses.
Randy Wong, owner and manager of Goodyear Ultimate Source Automotive at 2075 Willingdon Ave., was worried the project was pushing his business out of the neighbourhood. Wong has since made plans to relocate Goodyear to the east along Lougheed Highway near Holdom Avenue.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Good Year Select has moved

The Good Year Select tire shop has been boarded up and has moved to make room for the Solo District project.  The service shop has moved to another location within Brentwood between Springer Ave and Holdom Ave on Lougheed Hwy.  The new location is expected to open soon according to signage at the new location.  The new location will also be located close to SkyTrain as it is a short walk from Holdom Station.