Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brentwood Redevelopment Open House today

Unfortunately, I will be unable to check out the 2nd open house scheduled for tomorrow as I will be out of town.  Hopefully Shape Properties (BW Mall owner) will put some of it's presentation on its website as it did with the 1st open house.

(Burnaby NewsLeader)

Open house for Brentwood redevelopment June 27

The proposed redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre will be the subject of an open house to be held Wednesday, June 27, 4 to 7 p.m. in the shopping mall's food court.
The public is invited to check out information on the proposed project and provide feedback.
Shape Properties, which owns the shopping centre at Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, plans to redevelop the property with housing, offices and public spaces, as well as a redesigned mall.
The company is proposing to rezone the property to set development guidelines for the 28-acre site. Redevelopment would happen in phases, with each phase requiring a separate rezoning.
The proposed plan would eventually see the site developed with six to 10 towers of varying heights, with the highest densities closest to Brentwood SkyTrain station. Low-rise housing would be built along the rear lane that separates the site from single and two-family homes in the neighbourhood. Parking would be moved underground.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Solo District lined up down the block

I had planned to check out the open house at the Solo District presentation centre on the way to somewhere else.  The open house which began at 12:00, had a line up down it's path to Willingdon Ave and down the block by 12:30.  Not having anticipated such a lineup, I opted to continue on past it. I wonder if any readers had a chance to check it out today?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Euro Cup semi-finals broadcasts at Brentwood Mall

Perhaps a sign of things to come when the Entertainment Plaza is built:

Burnaby NewsLeader

Brentwood mall to show Euro Cup matches

Brentwood Town Centre is inviting soccer fans to its "Euro 2012 Lounge" starting Saturday, June 23, in time for the quarter-final game No. 3 between Spain and France.
The lounge, featuring three high-definition screens with TSN's live broadcast, is located on the lower level, near Zellers. It will show full coverage of Euro Cup matches.
Upcoming matches include: Sunday, June 24, quarter-final No. 4, England versus Italy; Wednesday, June 27 semi-final, Portugal vs. the winner of quarter-final No. 3; Thursday, June 28, semi-final, winners of quarter-finals No. 2 and No. 4; and on Sunday, July 1, the final.
The mall is giving away prizes and shoppers are invited to post their best photos from the lounge Info:, or!/brentwoodfits.

Density debate in Metrotown

More than 1 and-a-half years after the City of Burnaby amended zoning laws to allow increased heights and density in the city's town centres, some residents have begun to express their ire at the prospect of taller building going up next to theirs.  During the public hearing process in 2010 (which I attended), nobody made the effort to speak against the by-law amendment.  My question for those opposing greater density is this:  How should the City maintain service levels and increase amenities without the larger property tax base that is brought in with high-rise developments?  One option that everyone always likes to oppose is increased property taxes for existing dwellings.

The proposed developments in Metrotown are good for the city as larger numbers of people will support diverse local businesses and allow them remain in the the neighbourhood and thrive.  It's a given that community Centres will need to be expanded or (more built) to accommodate more users.  The density bonus funds provided by developers contribute to such projects.

The following article is from the Burnaby Now.

Sky is not the limit for city buildings

Metrotown resident says 57 storey buildings 

are too high and will create problems

A Burnaby resident wants the city to put a cap on building heights, particularly those in the Metrotown neighbourhood.
Carly Franklin has launched a petition asking Mayor Derek Corrigan and Burnaby council to limit highrise development in Metrotown.
"I think they're getting a little out of control with the height of some of the buildings that are going up in the area," Franklin said Wednesday.
Franklin's petition is at www.change. org/petitions/mayor-derek-corrigan-limit the-height-of-high-rise-developments-inmetrotown, and as of Wednesday afternoon had 10 signatures.
Each signature sends an email letter to Burnaby's mayor and eight councillors.
Franklin is concerned there is not enough community infrastructure - such as community centres, transit and the local libraries - to support the amount of development going on in South Burnaby.
"We've got a community centre that's already jam-packed all the time," she said, "and all these community services that will just be further stretched to accommodate - you know, even fire and police - all these huge buildings they're planning."
The tipping point for Franklin was plans for the redesign of Station Square at Metrotown. The development plans for the project include five residential towers ranging in height from 35 to 57 storeys.
"That's so much bigger than anything else that's in the area already," she said. "It just feels like it doesn't fit in with the neighbourhood as it currently is."
A "behemoth 60-storey tower" is too much, she said, adding that she supports the revitalization of Station Square in principle but wants something that's more reasonable, height-wise.
Franklin became concerned about the size of developments in Metrotown when she heard about Metroplace, a 46-storey development under construction at Telford Avenue and Beresford Street, she said.
"It really has bothered me since I found out," she said, adding that the 45-storey Sovereign development at Willingdon Avenue and Kingsway also worried her.
The proposal for the first phase of development at Station Square went to council last fall.
Franklin would like to see council limit the height of the project before the developer, Anthem Properties, moves forward with future plans.
"I'm hoping they'll bring it down from the stratosphere," she said, adding she'd like to see the city strike a balance between attracting developers' dollars and keeping density in the area reasonable.
Corrigan did not respond to requests for an interview before press time but has spoken on the issue of density in Metrotown in previous interviews with the NOW.
The city is focusing on increasing density around SkyTrain hubs such as Brentwood and Metrotown, he said in an interview regarding the city's transportation plan.
Corrigan has also pointed out in previous interviews that adding highrises is part of the community plan for the Metrotown area.
In Fall 2010, Burnaby introduced the community benefit bonus density policy, which gives developers the chance to increase density in buildings if they give a contribution towards the community.
The zoning allows for increased density in Burnaby's four town centres to a maximum floor area ratio, in this case 5: 0, as opposed to 2: 6 under the previous bylaws.
Through the policy, developers are required to give a portion of space onsite or at other developments for non-profits, or to make a financial contribution for community amenities in lieu of space.
Metroplace was the first development to go forward under the new zoning.
The developer, Intracorp Lands Ltd., had previously proposed a 28-storey apartment building with a one-storey commercial base on the property.
Under the new zoning, the development includes a 46-storey residential tower and a four-storey commercial podium.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Solo public preview

According to the Burnaby NewsLeader the public will get an opportunity to see a preview of the Solo District project this Saturday June 23 on Willingdon Ave just south of Lougheed (SOLO).  I will definitely try to make it out for the viewing.  For those that will need to drive to the site, a parking lot has been provided next to the presentation centre.

Burnaby NewsLeader - News
Solo set to transform Burnaby's Brentwood corner
By Wanda Chow - Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: June 20, 2012 1:00 PM 
Updated: June 20, 2012 3:45 PM

As a Burnaby boy, Jim Bosa has passed by the southwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue thousands of times.
"I just saw the potential of what we could have down here," said Bosa, now president of Appia Developments.
Working from an office a couple blocks away, Bosa is set to make that potential a reality with the Solo District, a four-tower community on just over six acres, set to start construction in August once final approvals are granted by city hall.
"It's an opportunity that came up," said Bosa during a NewsLeader preview of the sales centre. "We've spent six years planning and designing for this."
The company contemplated getting the project off the ground three or four years ago, but decided to wait until market conditions were right. Then a couple years ago, Burnaby city hall introduced its "s category" of density bonuses and Appia redesigned the project to take advantage of it.
The result is a complex of four towers, with a total of just under 1,400 homes. It will include offices and commercial space, including the first Whole Foods supermarket in Burnaby.
The first phase, dubbed Stratus, will be a 45-storey, 374-unit highrise, the Whole Foods and additional retail space on the northwest corner of the site, at Lougheed and Rosser Avenue.
Phase two will be a 52-storey tower on the northeast corner, comprised of 250,000 square feet of office space, additional commercial space, and a residential tower on top of it all.
The third phase will be a 39-storey highrise on the southwest corner, with 12,000 square feet of commercial, and the fourth phase, to be built when market conditions permit, will be a 43-storey structure on the southeast corner, on top of a 20,000-square-foot podium of commercial space.
In exchange for the additional density, Bosa said Appia will be providing $32 million in community amenities if all four phases go ahead—a 4,000-square-foot community space to be owned by city hall, a $2-million value to be built in phase three, and $30 million in cash to be used for amenities off site.
The condos in Stratus will have their share of sustainable features, from Modo car co-op vehicles and two years of transit passes for a certain number of units to individual gas meters for each unit, so residents pay only for what they use.
All units will have air conditioning and a geo-exchange system will be used to reduce energy costs. "We're taking advantage of the energy the whole project produces (both retail and residential) rather than just blowing it out into the atmosphere," Bosa said.
As for Stratus, it features an outdoor rooftop common area that includes a fenced-in dog park, fitness centre, gardens and barbecue area.
The units range in size from the 475-square-foot junior one-bedrooms ($229,000) to three two-level skylofts at 1,785 square feet ($1.25 million), said Dennis Serraglio, Appia's director of sales. Two bedroom units will range in size from 850 to 940 square feet and start at $379,000.
They all come with balconies that are larger than usual but typical for Appia projects, said Serraglio. The junior one-bedroom (essentially a studio suite with a pony wall creating a sleeping area) comes with about 80 square feet of balcony, which is not included in the floor area.
"People in the summer like to spend a lot of time outside," he said. "It adds to the cost to build but it enhances the unit."
And when Solo is complete, it will all complement the planned redevelopment of Brentwood Mall across Lougheed.
"[Brentwood] will be more walkable and pedestrian friendly, more of a community versus a destination mall, in and out from the parking lot," said Bosa, stressing residents will be able to walk or take SkyTrain to their shopping and entertainment, leaving their cars, if any, at home.
While sales for Stratus will not start until mid summer, after the city grants final approvals, the sales centre at the end of Sumas Street near Willingdon opens for public previews this Saturday, 12 to 5 p.m.
A community event will be held at the centre on July 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring free food, games, and entertainment for the whole family.

High-rise heights getting more attention

As the following editorial in the Burnaby NewsLeader suggests, the approval of new projects involving 45-plus story buildings is starting to garner more attention in the city as town centres like Brentwood continue to fill in and build up with high-rise developments.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Opinion
EDITORIAL: Burnaby rapidly changing into a soaring city

Burnaby’s town centres are rapidly changing. Metrotown, Brentwood, Edmonds and Lougheed are rife with construction cranes as these four areas densify. The growth is particularly fast in Brentwood and Metrotown, both on SkyTrain, both a short jaunt to downtown Vancouver.
Some have voiced concern that new towers are now reaching stratospheric heights, with Metrotown’s Station Square redevelopment to have a tower of 57 storeys, and the redevelopment of Brentwood Mall eyeing a 60-storey skyscraper.
Why so tall? That’s what Metrotown-area resident Carly Franklin asked in this paper recently, and it’s a legitimate question. Won’t the influx of new residents mean jammed libraries, community centres and parks?
As far as density goes, the plan for the town centres is no surprise. Burnaby’s Official Community Plan has charted the growth in these areas for decades. They were always meant to be busy, but in some ways they are only now coming to fruition. The soaring heights, though, are new.
The city now lets developers go higher on specific sites—achieving more density—in return for building amenities for the city or paying cash in lieu.
And it’s not petty cash.
The Solo project in Brentwood will encompass four towers, and the city will get a 4,000-square-foot facility for local non profit groups. In addition, the city will get $30 million in cash from Jim Bosa’s Appia Developments. Twenty per cent will go to Burnaby’s fund for affordable and special needs housing, which has supported worthwhile projects like the Poppy Residences, built by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 83 in South Burnaby.
The rest, $24 million, will go a long way towards building bigger, better libraries, community centres, and parks. These new shiny towers will certainly change the look and feel of the town centres. Whether a person likes the look and feel of the changing neighbourhood, well, that’s another question altogether.

Friday, June 15, 2012

2nd Brentwood Mall Redevelopment Open House

The 2nd Brentwood Mall Redevelopment open house has been announced by Shape Properties in the Burnaby Now and Burnaby NewsLeader papers.  The open house regarding the massive redevelopment will take place June 27 from 4:00-7:00pm at the Brentwood Mall food court.  The first open house occurred in January this year and had a large turnout from the surrounding neighbourhood. This open house is expected to be no different as locals have had some time to digest prospect of tall high-rises looming over the single-family residential neighbourhood to the immediate north of the mall.

Having attended the first open house, I am interested to see if any modifications to the concept or more details of the plan will be made public.

This following is the writeup by Shape Properties regarding the Open House:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Safe sidewalks means safety from cars

I've already written about elements that make sidewalks appealing to pedestrians (Appealing Sidewalks). Safety as an appealing element is something that is lacking in most places in Metro Vancouver, particularly in Kitsilano where a pedestrian was just killed by a car entering the sidewalk.  A simple barrier that would prevent vehicles from jumping the curb and endangering pedestrians is lacking virtually everywhere sidewalks exist here.

Woman killed when pinned between car and Kitsilano storefront

The decision comes at the request of family members who were notified Monday.
The woman, a 52-year-old Kitsilano resident, had been walking westbound in front of The Shoe Studio on Broadway near Macdonald Street when the station wagon lurched over the curb and into her midsection around 12:30 p.m.
She was taken to hospital but died of her injuries.
The 67-year-old driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators, said Const. Lindsey Houghton. The car will undergo mechanical testing. Speed and alcohol are not considered factors in the incident.
This is Vancouver's eighth traffic-related death of 2012 compared to seven for the same time period in 2011 and four in 2010.
"I heard a loud, loud crash," said Nicole Belanger, 22, who had been working at Solly's Bagelry next door. "I immediately saw that there was a car on the sidewalk, and then someone came in yelling 'Call 911.'
"I was shaking," she said. "All my co-workers were shaking a good hour afterward."
Vancouver police sent victims services workers to the scene to offer trauma counselling to bystanders, said Const. Lindsey Houghton.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Transit zones attracting jobs...and workers

The following Globe and Mail article explains why commercial/office space near transit hubs are more sought-after than those that are only accessible by automobile.  The Brentwood area is beginning to see more commercial/office space being built with mixed-use projects on both sides of Lougheed Hwy and Rosser Ave.  According to the article, statistical data on transit use to jobs located near well-serviced transit routes shows that the vast majority of people will use transit to commute to and from their jobs.

(Globe and Mail article)

Transit-oriented buildings fetch higher rents
When Al Batchelar and his team at Commissionaires BC decided they needed new space for their business, they looked at several suburbs and types of office developments.
In the end, they chose a spot in Surrey’s Station Tower, which is steps from the Gateway SkyTrain station, picking it over cheaper space in a Surrey or Richmond business park.
“A lot of people who need our services don’t have transportation,” says Commissionaires’ chief executive officer Mr. Batchelar, whose non-profit company, originally started to provide work for war veterans, now provides fingerprinting and criminal-records checks for people who need them as a condition of employment. The company also runs courses for people training to be security guards.
“Even if we had a place with lots of parking somewhere else, we just couldn’t get people there.”
That scenario is playing out in major cities across Canada, as more office tenants are choosing locations that are as close to transit as possible, even if it means paying more.
As a result, buildings right on top of transit are seeing their vacancy rates shrink and lease rates rise.
Office vacancies are creeping up in buildings that are sometimes only a few crucial blocks away from a transit site. And the vacancy rates are even grimmer for many older business parks that were built kilometres from transit at a time when it seemed savvy to construct whole campuses on cheap land far from central business districts.
“What we are hearing from tenants most often these days is that priority one is access to transit and it can’t even be a walk down the street,” says Brett Miller, president of Jones Lang Lasalle Real Estate Services in Canada.
That was a priority for Vancity Credit Union when it built its new head office in 1995, a unique building where the SkyTrain literally runs right through the building.
“We wanted to be on rapid transit and our stats show our staff use transit now 50 per cent more than the average for office workers,” said Jeremy Trigg, Vancity’s director of facilities and environmental management.
It’s also a key factor for the giant engineering-consulting firm Fluor Canada, which has hung onto its downtown locations in Vancouver. “We felt it was the most efficient situation for our company,” said vice-president Vasee Navaratnam. A just-completed survey of the company’s 800 employees, who are spread out in three buildings near the Burrard SkyTrain station in downtown Vancouver, showed that 65 per cent arrive by transit. (An additional 23 per cent walk, one per cent ride bicycles, and only 11 per cent arrive in cars or motorcycles.) Many companies and commercial brokers have been telling similar stories in recent years.
But Mr. Miller’s company decided to test the whole thesis in a way that went beyond anecdote. Jones Lang Lasalle has published two reports now, one at the beginning of this month, looking at the importance of transit in the Vancouver market.
The latest of their “rapid transit office index” reports concluded that tenants are willing to pay considerably more to get into a similar building that’s closer to transit.
The statistics-stuffed report concluded that tenants will pay a 22-per-cent premium in Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby, three of the largest office markets, to be within 500 metres of a transit station. As well, vacancy rates for buildings outside that 500-metre range can go up to 25 per cent higher than a transit-oriented building in the same suburb.
Back at Surrey’s Station Tower, for example, the average asking rate is $24 a square foot and it has zero-per-cent vacancy. In contrast, the Benchmark Business Centre, a high-quality business-park complex also in Surrey, has an average asking rate of $17.50 a square foot, with a 17.8-per-cent vacancy rate.
The situation is worse for some of the older business parks in suburbs without even a hint of reasonable bus transportation.
“Richmond by far and away is our worst performing office market,” says Darrell Hurst, a commercial broker at Avison Young who handles Station Tower and other properties. Its business parks on the east side, far from the new Canada Line, are older and without some of the amenities – basketball courts or multiple restaurants – that newer ones have. And they are just plain hard to get to.
Both Microsoft and BC Lottery Corp. moved out of Richmond in the past five years and into Vancouver.
Mr. Hurst said some business parks are trying to grapple with the transportation issue by providing their own shuttles to the nearest transit station.
Other business-park tenants, if they’re large enough, are going into the shuttle business themselves in order to retain employees. And they’re choosing their business parks carefully.
When Horizon Distributors, a company that trucks organic and natural-food products to Whole Foods and other grocery stores in the region, decided it needed larger space in 2008, it looked at price per square foot. But there were limits to that approach.
“One of our criteria was that it had to be a place that was inside the bridges,” said vice-president Terry Newell. “And we knew we couldn’t have a distribution centre just anywhere when half the people in this business don’t earn enough to buy a car.”
So Horizon chose a business park in south Burnaby for its 150,000-square-foot operation, a few kilometres away from its previous north Burnaby site, and decided to pay for a shuttle to carry employees to and from the nearest SkyTrain station at Edmonds.
“I figured over the long haul that a $100,000-a-year shuttle was better than an extra $500,000 a year in rent,” Ms. Newell said.
But, as for moving the site to even cheaper space 40 kilometres away in the Fraser Valley and impossible to connect to transit even with a shuttle – she wouldn’t even consider it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Angry Birds in Brentwood

The nice early-morning walks that residents of the Brentwood Park neighbourhood enjoy may have become anything but enjoyable during the past few days.  The last 2 mornings, over half of my 10-minute walk to Brentwood Station has involved serious harassment from a neighbourhood crow protecting its nest of chicks.  After crowing its now-familiar battle cry, the angry crow begins to dive-bomb me from the time I leave my front door, following me all the way to the edge of the Brentwood Mall parking lot where it perches itself on top of the Sears building and eyes me as I walk away towards the station.

Hopefully the little baby crows in the nest will soon clear out and relieve me from the neck strain of the past 2 mornings.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Site of proposed mid-rise office tower for sale

The site for a project on hold at 4488 Halifax Street just west of Willingdon Ave is for sale.  According to the City of Burnaby website, the mid-rise tower with at-grade commercial project (REZ # 04-08) had been proposed by Abbarch Partnership .  The 18, 299 sf property is currently listed by Colliers International  for $3, 788, 000.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why increasing density makes sense

I remember when I got my driver's licence in 1991 and gas prices were in the 30 cents/litre range.  Many seem to think that current gas prices is a front-page news story even though the prospect of peak oil and future sky-rocketting gas prices has been talked about since the 1970s.

The photos below suggest why living in dense transit nodes makes increasingly more sense.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads a newspaper even as little as once a month that this is the way the future will be in terms of housing in Metro Vancouver.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Burnaby's future growth well thought out

I  came across the Burnaby Economic Development Strategy 2020 which was drafted and adopted by the City of Burnaby in 2007.  The plan provides a framework for the City to guide Burnaby into 2020 and beyond.  I have taken some of the highlights of the plan as they relate to this blog.  For the full document in PDF format click here.

NOTE: Although it is a well-thought-out plan that clearly articulates the reasoning behind Burnaby's blueprint for the future, I do believe that it is important to consider the background of "experts" that contributed to the plan.  This is not a judgement of the "experts" consulted for this plan but merely a statement of the fact that everyone (myself included) has a bias or agenda when expressing our views and "expertise" in matters of both public and private concern.  It is also important to hold our public servants to account to ensure that previously adopted plans are not only adhered to but to also ensure that the plans remain relevant as time goes on.

(From the Economic Development Strategy 2020)

Changes in Burnaby’s Economy from 1991 to 2006

Burnaby's economy has changed from 1990 to 2006, as have many of the factors that influence and reflect the performance of the economy. The following is a small sample of change from the time since the 1990 Burnaby EDS was adopted.
  • About 35,000 (or 22%) more people lived in Burnaby, 11,000 (or 12%) more people were in the work force in Burnaby, and 14,000 (or 15%) more people worked in Burnaby 10 years later in 2001 compared to 1991.1
  • About 43,500 (or 27%) more people lived in Burnaby 15 years later in 2005 compared to 1990 2.
  • The unemployment rate in Burnaby declined from 9.0 % in 1993 to 8.3% in 2003, a decrease of 0.7% (or 8%) over 10 years.3
  • There continued to be more jobs than people in the labour force and jobs increased at a faster rate - the adjusted ratio was 1.2 in 2001 compared to 1.0 in 1991, 10 years earlier.4
  • Average household income in Burnaby has remained at similar levels (expressed in 1997 dollars) - $48,300 in 2001, was slightly lower compared to $48,700 for 1991, 10 years earlier5.
  • Vancouver's annual inflation rate fell from 3.6% in 1993 to 2.1% in 2003, a net decrease of 1.5% (or 42%) over 10 years6.

The Vision for Burnaby

Throughout Burnaby’s Official Community Plan and the 1990 Economic Development Strategy there is a consistent message about the kind of community Burnaby should be:
  • A healthy, safe, diverse, livable community that is welcoming to new residents.
  • A clean natural environment. 
  • A vibrant urban place.
  • A sustainable, inclusive, prosperous economy that is welcoming to new businesses. 
  • A fiscally sound local government.

The Official Community Plan calls for “...a more complete community, an environmentally aware community, a community of economic opportunity, a community with increased transportation choice, an involved community, and a community within a livable region”.

Vanilla urban character

Burnaby is eminently livable, with attractive neighbourhoods, many parks, great community amenities, tidy business parks, and good infrastructure. However, Burnaby does not have pockets of diverse urban character that match districts such as Yaletown or Kitsilano in Vancouver.
Over the last 20 years or so, Burnaby’s main draw for some sectors (such as technology) has been readily available vacant land (and low occupancy costs) with high vehicular accessibility and regional centrality. Now, some of the lustre is off these assets and Burnaby finds itself having to compete more to attract some kinds of businesses, which themselves are becoming more mature in their site selection process.
Many firms now consider new criteria including housing within walking distance, high quality amenities, lively commercial space, and all-day urban character. Burnaby has tended to develop large concentrations of employment in areas that are functional, but perhaps dull. Even Metrotown does not yet have the sort of urban character that pulls firms looking for diversity, and provides a hotbed for small retailers, restaurants, or start- ups.

A more complete community

The City will pursue the development of a more complete community that brings people, jobs, services and amenities together in more accessible ways.

  • Continue to invest in parks, community facilities, recreation facilities, and arts/culture.
  • Continue planning for high density neighbourhoods in appropriate locations, as higher density housing tends to be more affordable and more likely to appeal to a wide variety of target markets.

Walkable neighbourhoods

  • Consider introducing residential and local serving commercial into areas of concentrated employment (e.g., Canada Way/Willingdon and/or Big Bend), so that there is more mixed use and vitality in employment areas.
  • Continue locating high density housing at transit stations (On the Expo SkyTrain line the Edmonds Town Centre, Lougheed Town Centre, Metrotown (including Patterson Station), Royal Oak Community Plans are all in place. On the Millennium SkyTrain line Brentwood Town Centre, Holdom Station Area, Lake City Guide, Lougheed Town Centre Plans are all in place, while the Sperling/Bainbridge and Brighton Urban Village Plans are pending).
  • Examine whether Burnaby should consider increasing its maximum residential densities in some locations to allow for more intensive development and increases to the supply of housing.

Urban Character

Urban character means more than high density and tall buildings; it also means a high quality pedestrian realm, a lively mix of uses, a diversity of architectural styles, an active street life, bustle, entertainment, and even some grit.

Burnaby must continue to evolve into a mature, lively, post-suburban city if it wants to maximize its ability to attract a diverse, well- educated, skilled population and attract the kinds of firms that hire these people.

Much of Burnaby’s urban development over the last decade or so could be described as having rigid separation of land uses, a kind of suburban campus flavour even in town centre locations, and a fairly narrow palette of architectural styles. And, while Burnaby has invested heavily in parks and recreation facilities, it has not put a priority on creating attractive streetscapes in all areas.
A good example of both points is the area around Willingdon and Canada Way. This location is at the centre of an enormous concentration of employment (and students), has a high level of bus service14, and has very high vehicle volumes. It could be an exciting, mixed use urban node and it could make a highly visible statement about Burnaby’s pride in the public realm.

Burnaby is at a pivotal point in its development with substantial development occurring in all of the town centres. Developments are achieving a high level of design and landscaping. In contrast, some public frontages have suffered.

The beautification strategy now being developed for the City includes a review of how landscaped areas are designed, built, and maintained. The output from this review should help determine how we can ensure that their value to the community increases over time.

Shopping Districts
Continue to work with local merchant groups, property owners, and developers to maintain and enhance the character of existing interesting shopping districts such as The Heights and Edmonds. This could include using ethnic themes as a means of creating diversity.

Urban Villages
Ensure that the OCP update explores opportunities to find ways to transform large, single-use employment districts (business centres) into more lively urban places by adding housing, retail, restaurants, entertainment, and community amenities (e.g., Canada Way/Willingdon area).

Outstanding Urban Places
Consider whether there are one or two locations in Burnaby with the potential to become outstanding urban places that accommodate clusters of technology.

Continue to add to the amenity base so that Burnaby continues to be an attractive place to live and an attractive place to locate a business.

Consider putting a higher priority on beautification of the public realm, especially on major roads, and through high density residential and employment districts.

Design Guidelines
  • Stronger relationships between new buildings and the street, instead of large front setbacks which produce a campus image.
  • Greater variety in architectural character.
  • Less (or at least less prominent) surface car parking.
Work on what is missing
Explore working policies and programs into Burnaby’s “way of doing business” to begin to make its mixed use neighbourhoods more competitive as locations to live and locations to do business.

Decreased ecological footprint
Consider adopting aggressive targets to further reduce Burnaby’s total ecological footprint, such as reductions in total solid waste (with corresponding increases in recycling), increased transit ridership and reduced private automobile trips, and reductions in total carbon dioxide emissions.

Gathering Places
Explore supporting the mixing of arts/culture (e.g., art galleries, street parties, plaza gathering places) with retail areas to further humanize these places (i.e., introduce more opportunities for intimate situations).


Burnaby has a large and diverse retail base that could be used more as an attraction for visitors from inside the region and elsewhere. There are opportunities to use ethnic and cultural diversity as themes for food, art, fashion, markets. Burnaby’s position on two rapid transit lines provides a high level of access to Burnaby’s retail

High Streets
  • Consider promoting the variety and different character of all of the Town Centres and retail villages within Burnaby (e.g., The Heights, North Road, UniverCity, Edmonds, Brentwood, Lougheed, and Metrotown).
  • Explore working with local merchants and business associations on plans to strengthen commercial districts through marketing, streetscape improvements, design guidelines, and the development of more interesting, distinct character.
  • Look for opportunities to work with the ethnic communities on ideas for more ethnic-themes unique to each area.
Streetscape/Quality of Experience
  • Continue to reinforce Burnaby’s town centres as region-serving lively retail centres. More attention needs to be focused on streetscape and quality of experience. See General Strategy G3 – Creating Urban Character for more detail.
  • Look for opportunities to locate cultural, civic, and educational uses in town centres.
This entire document can be read in full here.

Although some may argue that the onslaught of new developments in Brentwood is ad-hoc and uncontrolled, the documentary evidence proves that what we see today is the result of planning that occurred decades ago in response to new economic and ecological realities.  The unfolding of the pending Solo District, Aviara, and the Brentwood Mall developments can be attributed to the City of Burnaby having created the conditions to develop areas like Brentwood into multipurpose urban cores in oncoming years and the result has been evident with the prior construction of 20 plus residential and commercial towers over the past decade.  How the City develops pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in Brentwood is something that the locals must influence with participation in public hearings and council meetings.