Thursday, December 19, 2013

Smallest full moon of 2013

I was able to take a shot of this on the morning of Wednesday December 18.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dismay at Brentwood Bus Loop closure

Yesterday's closure of the Brentwood Bus Loop has garnered some criticism with some locals.

(Burnaby Now article)

Brentwood bus loop closure concerns locals
Stefania Seccia / Burnaby Now
December 17, 2013 10:27 AM

It's never easy when longtime habits suddenly shift, but a few locals are concerned what the Brentwood mall bus loop removal will bring during extreme weather conditions.
Dec. 16 was the day the bus loop at the future site of the 'Amazing Brentwood' mall redevelopment closed for good, but it left some locals wondering if that was the best way forward.
"It's going to be interesting," said Carrie McLaren. "My main concern with all of this is safety."
McLaren, a Burnaby resident and Green Party candidate, says she's concerned what icy conditions on the sidewalk and road will do for seniors and disabled patrons trying to access transit.
"It's a dangerous parking lot," McLaren noted. "There are a lot of accidents. There's not really a sidewalk, other than the bus loop sidewalk.
"I keep seeing all these people going around, all the shopping carts, strollers or walkers. The spring usually is fine, but this is winter. If it snows again, and we get some really bad weather, it's going to be an issue."
Helen Ward, also a Burnaby resident, has been vocal about her issues with the Brentwood mall redevelopment, which has led to the closing down of its bus loop.
"There's no danger today, but if it was slippery you'd have people ... physically challenged trying to access the area," she noted.
Ward said she's glad to see the ramp has not been removed or closed. But, the section of the ramp that connects to the bus loop will shut down at some point in the future.
Bus 25, 123, 130, 134 and 136 all moved to temporary street locations near Brentwood's SkyTrain station.
Shape Properties, the company that owns Brentwood mall, had its master concept plan for its redevelopment approved by council in September. Now, the first phase's rezoning application is nearing council's final approval. It's planned for the first 10 acres of the property that would connect it to the SkyTrain station at Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway. Preliminary work has begun on the site in advance of the groundbreaking - including the bus loop's removal. TransLink leased the site where the loop was, but the lease expires at the end of December.
Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal had raised his concerns about removing the bus loop at several council meetings because he was worried about the various bus stops being chosen around the mall - in some cases too far away for seniors or those with mobility issues - and voted against the move.
"I recognize that during construction, there will be some changes and yes they were going to do the first phase, changing the fa├žade and getting ready ... does make a bit of inconvenience," he said. "It's a bad time right now to do it."
Dhaliwal said he's disappointed by TransLink's efforts and that the authority is out of touch with local concerns.
"We need a more comprehensive plan of a proper bus loop, shelter connecting with the station so people don't have to walk, it's important that it's a minimum," he said. "TransLink doesn't seem to be paying a whole lot of attention to people, they have their own priorities and issues. They don't know the local demands."
But TransLink says it's just doing what it was told to do.
According to Jeff Busby, senior manager of project development and network management at TransLink, the bus loop will most likely never return, as well.
"The buses are now operating on Willingdon and Lougheed Highway," he told the NOW. "Customers looking for buses will go to stops that are on the sidewalks."
The bus stops are temporary and will shift once again when the mall's first phase of redevelopment is done - three years from now, Busby said.
"The locations will shift slightly and they'll be improved from what they are today," he said. "The developer has helped us by providing really large shelters and really pleasant waiting areas on the sidewalk, dependent on when the redevelopment is done."
Busby also said TransLink has held up its end of the bargain by removing the loop from the site in time for the lease's end.
Darren Kwiatkowski, vice-president of development for Shape Properties, said Shape and TransLink have worked with customers extensively to make the right decision about the loop. He also said the sidewalks near the mall will be maintained.
"To help them (TransLink) is fantastic," he said about the future improved bus stops. "There'll be nice, new covered walkways, fully integrated stops and covered waiting areas."
Kwiatkowski said the bus stops moving closer to the SkyTrain is a better alternative to the bus loop, which TransLink suggested to take off site.
"Buses get closer to the SkyTrain and it's much more intuitive than walking to the bus loop," he said. "There's no ill intent on moving this thing.... TransLink, they suggested it and they designed it."
Brentwood mall's first phase plans include turning the mall's parking lot in front of the SkyTrain entrance into a central plaza to connect transit passengers, pedestrians and cyclists along Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, with commercial retail, restaurant services, and office uses on site.
© Copyright 2013

(24 Hours article)

Burnaby bus loop closure presents challenges

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver
“Temporary” changes to bus stop locations at Brentwood exchange will mean the permanent loss of the transit loop adjacent to the Burnaby mall at the Halifax and Willingdon intersection, TransLink said.
Jeff Busby, TransLink senior manager of infrastructure and planning, said Monday — the first day of the loop’s closure — existing routes formerly served by the exchange would be spread to three areas around the neighbourhood in future.
Bus stops for routes such as the No. 25 UBC and the No. 123 New West Station have been moved south of Lougheed.
The No. 136 has been moved next to the SkyTrain station on the north side of Lougheed.
They are temporary locations for the next three years until the mall’s expansion finishes.
After that, new bus stops — looping around the nearby Alpha, Dawson, Rosser and Halifax streets and avenues — would be used instead.
The change is worrisome to some transit users such as Carrie McLaren who said seniors and the disabled would now have to use street-level crossings at the heavily-used Lougheed and Willingdon intersection to get to their stops.
Previously, those disembarking SkyTrain or leaving the mall wouldn’t have had to cross streets to board the routes.
“They didn’t tell us that they were going to do that, no notices or anything, until the week before they were doing it,” she said.
Busby said TransLink is aware of the crossing challenges and would be installing a new elevator on the south side of the Brentwood SkyTrain station. The only current elevator at the station is on the north side.
“If you’re transferring between buses there are some instances in which you would need to cross the street,” Busby said. “The city has made sure there’s crosswalks with adequate crossing time to make that happen.”
Twelve pedestrians were struck near the Willingdon and Lougheed intersection from 2008 and 2012, according to ICBC crash statistics, including four people hit near the existing bus loop.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Last day for Brentwood Bus Loop

The convenience of the Brentwood Bus Loop be gone after tonight as the loop will be permanently shut down to make room for the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.   Beginning tomorrow, the bus service locations will be affected as follows:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Relatively positive public hearing

According to the article below, the public hearing for the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment last night was relatively positive.

News 1130 article below:

Pro Brentwood development crowd lays out conditions

Development viewed as inevitable by neighbours who say it might as well be done right

Simon Druker
BURNABY (NEWS1130) – Development or no development that was the question on everyone’s mind at a public meeting at Burnaby City Hall Tuesday evening.
It is no doubt a massive undertaking planned for the Brentwood Town Centre, a far cry from the lonely rural area it was before the existing mall was built in the early 1960′s.
And while some spoke out against the expansion that would see two massive towers built, others say the hub has always been an area that would expand once again.
“The mall’s history is intrinsically tied to the development of that surrounding neighbourhood and that neighbourhood itself. So to me, that’s why this stuff is exciting. The next phase for the neighbourhood is a natural evolution in this process and is by no means isolated to the city of Burnaby,” says one speaker.
Critics say the density would be too much.
But those in favour say as long as it’s done properly, they’re ok with what seems like inevitable growth.
People do have concerns over building height, transit capacity and traffic congestion, but they point out development is inevitable so it’s better to have input now.
“To focus that intensive residential development in these major transit centres. Transit-oriented developments are forward-thinking mechanisms to address the population growth,” says another speaker at the meeting.
Council will vote on whether or not to pass the second reading of the zoning amendment in their first meeting of 2014.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brentwood Bus Loop changes coming December 16

Beginning Monday December 16th, the following changes will be made to bus service locations affected by the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  (from TransLink)

To accommodate the redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre, the off-street Brentwood Station transit facility will be closed and a number of Bays will be relocated:
  • 25 UBC will depart on-street from Bay 5
  • 123 New Westminster will depart on-street from Bay 4
  • 130 Phibbs Exchange will depart on-street from Bay 1
  • 130 Metrotown Station will depart on-street from Bay 6
  • 134 Lake City Station will depart on-street from Bay 1A
  • 136 Lougheed Station will depart on-street from Bay 7

Brentwood Mall Development Public Hearing tonight

A public hearing will be held tonight at the City of Burnaby tonight at 7pm.

Related Story Below in the Metro News

Public to get say on Burnaby’s Brentwood Town Centre

It’s just the first phase of a mega-project to redevelop the Brentwood Mall, but Burnaby 
residents are getting ready to give city council an earful at the public hearing Tuesday 

Residents who are especially concerned about the scope of the Brentwood Town Centre 
development – Shape Properties proposed towers up to 70 storeys tall – will attend the 
rezoning for the less controversial, commercial aspect of the development to urge council 
to keep it at a “human scale.”

While the towers aren’t on the agenda Tuesday, nearby residents are waiting to hear how 
the city will manage traffic in the area.

Cherie Moses, a part of a traffic calming group on Gravely Street, says it’s crucial for the 
city to address the increased traffic destined for the mall and SkyTrain station on her 
residential strip so pedestrians don’t get hurt.

The original plan didn’t address her narrow street, north of the centre, which is already so 
congested during rush hour that parked cars often get dings and scratches. While her 
group understands the redevelopment will go through at some scale, it hopes the city will 
come up with a traffic calming solution that will maintain safety despite the influx of 
thousands of residents.

“In their minds, people are going to be at these transit hubs and they’re not going to be 
driving so much – well, dream on,” Moses said. “All these places will have parking garages, 
these shoppers will have vehicles.”

Council has approved of the concept of the decades-long project, called a “crown jewel” by 
one councillor.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Brentwood Sky December 6, 2013

The moon happened to be hovering above the station around 9:00 tonight when I happened to look that way.

Aviara quietly continuing along

As the majority of the focus lately seems to be on Solo District and Brentwood Mall, a few blocks away at the end of Halifax Street at Douglas Road, the Aviara tower is beginning to cast a larger shadow as time goes on.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Burnaby leading in bike lane planning

I've mentioned before that making the area more cycling-friendly would make the neighbourhood better.  The following post by Richard Campbell mentions that Burnaby is leading the way in planning for cycling infrastructure and how it will infold in and around the city's developing town centres.

(The article and accompanying photo are from Richard Campbell's website)

Burnaby Leads in Including Separated Bike Lanes in Street Plans

The City of Burnaby has had the foresight to include separate bike lanes in its street plans for Lougheed and Willingdon in Brentwood Town Centre. As new developments are completed, the separated bike lanes are built adjacent them. As shown, in the photo, the first section on has been completed on the south side of Lougheed a block or so west of Lougheed.
This is a cost-effective method to adding bike lanes that doesn’t impact other users that much if at all. The downside, of course, is that it can take decades to complete the bike lanes leaving gaps in the meantime.
In this respect, Burnaby is leading Vancouver which has yet to include separated bike lanes in the street plans for the majority of arterial streets although there proposals to include them on the streets adjacent to Oakridge Mall and along Great Northern Way as part of the Central Valley Greenway. Still, there are no plans to include separated bike lanes on obvious streets such as Main and Kingsway. Main has a high number of cycling crashes which should make it a priority for improvements. Kingsway, along with streets including Burrard south of 1st, Nelson and Smithe were identified as candidates for bike lanes way back in the 1997 Transportation Plan. Burrard south of 1st will be torn up in 2015 for waterworks. This would be an ideal opportunity to add separated bike lanes at a low cost while minimizing traffic disruption.

As the majority of shops and businesses as well as an increasing number of homes are on main streets, separated bike lanes along them are critical to enable people of all ages to safely, conveniently and comfortably use bicycles in their daily lives. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Road Work at Willingdon and Lougheed

The intersection at Lougheed and Willingdon is a busy place lately as road and sidewalk work continues with SOLO District in the backdrop.  Of course, with the work comes the traffic delays.
Willingdon northbound is getting underground improvements... the sidewalk south of Lougheed Hwy gets widened. 

The Solo District site now has 3 cranes at work... the Brentwood Project nears its 2014 groundbreaking.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reporting the trend or creating it?

The following article in the Vancouver Sun illustrates how younger generations differ from previous ones on how they want to live in and around Metro Vancouver.  Stories such as the one below are regularly published describing the current trend in housing and often cite experts from the real estate industry to back up their stories.  It's as if the story itself is creating the current trend being capitalized on by the real estate industry.  Or is it just a reporting of what has already been going on? You can decide for yourself.

Vancouver Sun article below:

VANCOUVER — With a shrug that amounts to a tectonic demographic shift, millennials – especially in Metro Vancouver – are rejecting their parents’ suburban commuting lifestyle in favour of “live/work/play” neighbourhoods. If developers continue to meet this demand, and with the Canadian economy strengthening, all systems are go for 2014 to be a boom year in Canadian real estate, according to the recent Emerging Trends in Real Estate report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute.
Millennials, a.k.a. Generation Y (those born in 1981 and after), are driving the overwhelming shift to urbanization, says John Bunting, partner at PwC. They “want to live in places where it’s easier to get to and from. They want to live where their buddies are. They want to be in neighbourhoods where the restaurants are good, where they can eat and drink and be entertained.”
The key is that they’re going where their jobs are. “That has a significant amount to do with it,” says Bunting. “There’s a shift in demographics from boomers to Generation X to Generation Y. Generation Ys don’t want to live the lives their parents and grandparents did.
“Twenty to 30 to 40 years ago, someone in their 20s would think, ‘It’s time to start my career, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids.’ [At PwC] we hire about 80-90 young people out of school every year. This doesn’t always occur to them – their values at this age are different than previous generations.”
Their values may be partly shaped by a pragmatic grasp of reality: Right now land is just too expensive. “There’s a joke that if you’re in Vancouver, you get in your car and head east until you find a neighbourhood you can afford,” says Bunting. “We’re running out of dirt to build on. Developers’ biggest challenge is to find affordable real estate. Accessing a large land bank is a challenge for them. The marketplace could take more development. It’s a matter of finding cheap land.”
Failing that, millennials will keep seeking out transit-oriented developments like Blackwood Partners’ Renfrew Centre, at East 12th and Renfrew, scheduled for 2015 completion. Being next to both the central SkyTrain station Renfrew and the 99B bus line loop, the 170,000-square-foot office building matches other current transit-corridor developments – but it also one-ups them. It’s right on the 24-km Central Valley Greenway bike path connecting Vancouver to New Westminster.
Ten years ago, Renfrew was mostly residential. Transformed into mixed use, “it’s a great place to work where you don’t have to commute to downtown,” says Jonathan Button, Blackwood’s senior vice president, asset management and operations. “It’s easier to go to work where you live. We see it happening all over the Lower Mainland.”
Blackwood’s Central City, in Surrey, with 640,000 square feet of retail, a 340,000-square-foot Simon Fraser University campus, and 550,000 square feet of Class A office space, is becoming another self-contained neighbourhood. “It’s another example of a suburban node that’s becoming more urban. It’s by Surrey Central SkyTrain station, with the new City Hall close by, and the new Surrey Central Library across the street.”
Vancouver is ahead of other cities in reducing the need for long car commutes, Button says. “I see it being more on people’s minds in Vancouver, with people thinking about it, talking about it. It’s partly because of Vancouver’s more outdoors-focused lifestyle and culture. It’s more possible there to cycle year-round. And there’s a great transit system.”
Still, the same job-centric, urbanizing trend is happening in colder places like Calgary, says Bunting. “The mayor there has put on hold a number of so-called suburban developments. He’s encouraging more density. There’s a ton of building in the downtown. It’s a real challenge for a city and province to service huge suburbs with schools, fire departments, city servicing, policing.”
Bunting points out, “In Canada, we’re so spoiled by the landmass. We’re accustomed to the stereotypical North American dream: You own a piece of dirt, a big house, two cars. In Europe they’ve had densification for a long time. We’re catching up.”
Bunting chuckles at the memory of a colleague who moved from Paris to Toronto with his wife and three kids. “They found a house in a nice neighbourhood: a 2,300-square-foot split. I said to him, ‘It must be tough to stuff your family into 2,300 square feet.’ He just looked at me. In Paris, they lived in a 1,500-square-foot flat! They thought that was normal.”
According to the Emerging Trends report, many longer-term workforce members are adopting the millennials’ minimal-commute preferences. “Intensification of downtown areas of cities is continuing in Canada’s major centres to combine with reverse migration from the suburbs to downtown areas as one of the most forceful and rapidly emerging secular trends in both corporate office and residential real estate.”
The report will be the subject of a ULI conference on Tuesday, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Conference Chair Jeff Brown says, “There’s definitely a lot of information in the report about the large macrotrend that’s happening in North America and elsewhere on the planet: the flight to cities. We know that people are moving into cities for economic, as well as environmental and sociological reasons. At the event, we’ll be examining the macrotrends and also examining the microtrends that the players are dealing with.”
Also to be discussed: financing options. “With interest rates forecast to rise in the next couple of years, are we going to see some of the existing participants change their behaviour slightly? How are these acquisition and development projects being funded?
“Attention is being focused on the key markets. The [report] interviews show that there are actually quite distinct areas in North America attracting investment capital. These are gateway cities into the global economy,” says Brown, who’s also development and acquisitions manager at Shape Properties.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment in Global News

Global News mentioned the Brentwod Mall Redevelopment today as Phase 1 prepares to begin construction.

November 13, 2013 6:58 pm

Burnaby’s Brentwood to be transformed into mixed-use community with 60-storey towers

  Global News
The owner of Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby has plans to transform the site in a redevelopment that will see some of the tallest residential buildings in Western Canada.
Shape Properties will break ground on the first phase of their redevelopment of the Burnaby shopping centre this spring.
The company plans to construct a new 500,000-square-foot outdoor shopping centre and plaza at the corner of Willingdon and Lougheed.
The new shopping centre will be flanked by two 60-storey residential towers.
Darren Kwiatkowski, Executive Vice-President of Shape Properties, says that the site presents a rare opportunity directly on a Skytrain line.
“28 acres sitting on Skytrain at the corner of Lougheed and Willingdon doesn’t come along every day. It’s a pretty unique and fantastic opportunity.”
He says buyers today want to be able to live and work in the same community.“This takes mixed-use to a whole new level. You hear live, shop, play tossed around; here we have 28 acres, we will have groceries, high-quality restaurants, boutiques, bakeries. It’s all there — this really takes it to a new level.”
The existing shopping centre will stay open while phase one of the redevelopment is underway.
The City of Burnaby identified Brentwood 10 years ago as one of the town centres ripe for redevelopment, says Kwiatkowski.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's meet at the CCP Christmas tree

According to the following Burnaby NewsLeader article, the Entertainment Plaza next to Brentwood Station will be called the Central Civic Plaza.  Part of the plaza will include a large tree that would be lit for holidays as has been suggested before on this blog.  A farmers market may also be hosted at the CCP which would make more sense than the current location at the City of Burnaby parking lot which is not serviced by rapid transit.

The plaza will certainly be a significant meeting place as transit users, shoppers, and locals mix in the plaza for the variety of different reasons that will exist to be there.

Burnaby NewsLeader article below:

Phase 1 of Brentwood mall redevelopment takes step forward

By Wanda Chow - Burnaby NewsLeader
October 29, 2013 12:00 PM

Redevelopment of Brentwood mall is a step closer to reality now that its owners has readied its rezoning application for a public hearing on Nov. 26.

With Burnaby council granting final approvals in September to the conceptual master plan for the 28-acre site, a development plan for the first phase of the project has been completed for the southwest corner of the site.

Shape Properties Corp. is proposing a new externally-oriented commercial centre, a public plaza and high street.

"At its heart is a new multi-level Central Civic Plaza, which seamlessly engages and connects transit passengers, pedestrians and cyclists along Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue to the Brentwood SkyTrain Station, commercial retail and restaurant services and future office and residential uses on-site," said a city staff report.

The plaza will include outdoor seating, landscaping and a central fountain surrounding a large tree which could be lit for holidays or special events. The intent is that the space would host city-hall-supported events such as farmers markets, environmental events and large public gatherings, the report said.

All parking, except for surface parallel parking spots along the high street, will be underground and accessed by ramps adjacent to the Halifax Street and Alpha Avenue entrances. The amount of parking exceeds the requirement for retail and any extra commercial parking could be made available for residential use, it said.

A secondary entrance and exit point is proposed on Lougheed between Alpha and Beta avenues, mainly to serve underground loading requirements for the site, keeping loading separate from busier entrances off Alpha and Halifax.

A detailed traffic and transportation study for Phase 1 was submitted which noted "that the proposed access, road and intersection improvements to be completed
along Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue as part of the necessary site servicing, concomitant with the required on-site Transportation Demand Management measures, will mitigate traffic generated by the proposed development with an anticipation that no substantial impacts to area traffic will result from the site's proposed development."
Also helping substantially to provide more transportation options to residents, employees and customers of the project will be the addition of a new intersection at Alpha and Lougheed, a new road connection between Alpha and Halifax, and improved transit access and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
The public hearing will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. in Burnaby city hall council chambers.