Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dealerships and restaurants for Lougheed and Boundary

According to the City of Burnaby, the northeast corner of Lougheed Hwy and Boundary Rd will eventually become the site of auto dealerships, restaurant/commercial spaces and office buildings over multiple development phases.

Parts of the May 27 City of Burnaby Council meeting minutes regarding this development below

REZONING REFERENCE #12-28 Mixed-Use Office and Automobile Dealership

"OpenRoad Development - 2020 Boundary Road, Burnaby, B.C." prepared by Christopher Bozyk Architects Ltd.)
APPLICANT: Christopher Bozyk Architects Ltd. 414-611 Alexander Street. Vancouver BC 

TO seek Council authorization to forward this application to a Public Hearing on 2013 June 25.


That a Rezoning Bylaw be prepared and advanced to First Reading on 2013 June 10, and to a Public Hearing 2013 June 25 at 7:00 p.m.
THAT the following be established as prerequisites to the completion of the rezoning:
The submission of a suitable plan of development.
The deposit of sufficient monies, including a 4% Engineering Inspection Fee, to cover the costs of all services necessary to serve the site and the completion of a servicing agreement covering all requisite services. All services are to be designed to City standards and constructed in accordance with the Engineering Design. One of the conditions for the release of occupancy permits will be the completion of all requisite services.
The installation of all electrical, telephone and cable servicing, and all other wiring underground throughout the development, and to the point of connection to· the existing service where sufficient facilities are available to serve the development.

The purpose of the proposed rezoning bylaw amendment is to permit the construction of a mixed-use office, commercial and automobile dealership development.


The subject site was the focus of a similar rezoning application in 2007 (Rezoning Reference #07-24). The developer, Bosa Development Corporation, purchased the site from Terasen Gas (Fortis BC) with the intent of developing the site with a mix of office, commercial and automobile sales and service uses. 
A detailed design was for the site by Christopher Bozyk Architects, but was not advanced to Public Hearing. In 2008, Translink purchased the site with a mixed intent to either develop the site under the prevailing M3 Heavy Industrial District as a bus depot and service facility, or alternatively to work with the. City towards the re-designation of the site for high-density residential uses. As neither a bus depot nor high-density residential uses were considered supportable on the subject site, the City initiated a Rezoning Application (Rezoning Reference #08-10)in line with the intent of the previous rezoning application (Rezoning Reference #07-24), and advanced it to a Public Hearing and Second Reading. In 2012, the Planning Department was approached by Open Road Auto Group who wished to purchase the site with the intent of completing the mixed office, retail and automobile showroom concept brought forward in 2007, and has retained the original architect to work with the City towards the preparation of a suitable plan of development. Subsequent to discussions with the Department, the site was purchased by Open Road Auto Group and the subject rezoning application was submitted.

A key gateway into Burnaby from Vancouver, the subject site is located adjacent to the Brentwood Town Center plan area, separated by the Horne Payne BC Hydro Substation. It should be noted that the OCP recognizes the need to provide for a diverse range of development opportunities, in part, by encouraging and guiding the transition of key sites that are no longer conducive to continued industrial use, and where compelling community benefits are realized through more intensive development for other purposes. Supportive of this direction, the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth strategy designates the subject site as Mixed-Employment, which is intended for industrial, commercial and other employment related uses to help meet the needs of the regional economy. The intent behind this regional land use designation is to continue to support industrial activities, and complement the planned function of urban centres and frequent transit development areas.  Given the subject site's location adjacent to the growing Brentwood Town 'centre, its proximity to SkyTrain service and increasing pressures for more efficient use of urban land, the development of the subject site for office, light-industrial and commercial uses is considered appropriate within the policy context ofthe City's OCP and the Regional Growth Strategy.

The subject property is located at the northeast comer of Lougheed Highway and Boundary Road, and is currently being used for car storage. The subject property was formerly part of 3700 Second Avenue owned by Fortis BC. The property was subdivided in 2004 (Subdivision Reference #04-05) which created the 7.44 acre subject lot. To the north of the subject site is the remainder portion of the Fortis BC site and an industrial area further north, beyond Second Avenue. To the east is the BC Hydro Horne Payne substation. To the south across Lougheed Highway is Bridge Business Park, which is predominantly comprised of offices and office/warehousing, movie studio space and accessory commercial uses. To the west, across Boundary Road in Vancouver, is a mix of light industrial and commercially- oriented uses including offices and automobile dealerships. Vehicular access to the subject site is currently available to the site from Lougheed Highway.

The proposed development plan is for a phased development consisting of two to three high- end automobile dealerships; a 4-storey fully enclosed and glazed structured car storage . building, and an 8-storey office building with underground parking and grade level commercial/restaurant uses. It is proposed that the two initial automotive dealerships be pursued as part of the first phase of development followed by the office building and car storage building as a second phase. The undeveloped second phase will be suitably landscaped until development advances; with a restriction on interim car storage. A further future phase of development at the southeast comer of the site may be pursued under a separate rezoning application for an additional automobile dealership, office and retail building. Upon completion of the development, surface parking will be limited to patrons, . with only a select number of display vehicles located at giade. All other display vehicles will be located within the dealership buildings themselves. Vehicles awaiting servicing will also be stored within the dealership buildings, with access to screened roof parking by way of internal car lifts and ramps. As noted, the car storage building will be fully enclosed and glazed, with vehicles not being visible from adjacent streets. The maximum density permitted for the site upon build-out is 2.4 FAR reflective of the maximum density under the M2 General Industrial District. As part of the first phase of development, the density being pursued is 0.77 FAR.

To complement the built form, a progressive landscape treatment is proposed for the bounding streets including separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities on Lougheed Highway, complete with Rainwater Management Amenities (RMAs), to help soften the urban environment. Substantial on-site landscaping is also proposed including a treed buffer to the industrial properties to the north and northeast, a landscaped front yard along Lougheed Highway, a public plaza with specialized paving and landscaping at the base of the office. building fronting Boundary Road, landscaped islands and specialized paving within designated parking areas.

As part of this substantial development a public art contribution is required. Given the development's prominent location at Lougheed Highway and Boundary Road, which is a major gateway into the City of Burnaby, it is proposed that a "Welcome. to Burnaby" monument sign and landscape feature be provided as the public art component for the development.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Future Brentwood area school

With the expected increase of the population brought on by massive high density developments in the Brentwood area, the population of school-aged kids is also expected to grow and create demand for more school space.  The recently re-elected MLA, Richard Lee has expressed his desire to see a new elementary school built somewhere south of Lougheed Hwy.

Burnaby NewsLeader article below

New Brentwood-area school likely at least five years away: district

The fact a new elementary school in the Brentwood area is on local MLA Richard Lee's priority list is music to the ears of Burnaby school district.
For a number of years, the district has put forward a request to the education ministry for just such a school in its five-year capital plans, said its secretary-treasurer Greg Frank.
In a recent interview, Lee, the newly re-elected BC Liberal MLA for Burnaby North, said he'd like to see a school built to serve families living in the highrise towers already built or planned over the coming years.
Calling it his "dream project," he said he plans to advocate for it if it proves warranted.
"We're very pleased that this is a priority for him," Frank said of Lee. "We look forward to working with him in terms of having this project approved."
There is a growing community of highrises south of Lougheed Highway both east and west of Willingdon Avenue, and Shape Properties is working towards a major redevelopment of the Brentwood Town Centre mall property that will also include several residential towers.
Brentwood Park elementary is the closest existing school near Lougheed and Willingdon and it's "already beyond capacity," Frank said.
It currently has 460 students while the ideal capacity—where portables would not be needed—is 400, he said.
The district would like a new area school with enough space initially for 240 students. Such a project is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million in total for purchase of the land and construction, he said.
As for the location of the school, Frank said Burnaby city hall's community plans for  the area have identified potential locations amid the developments just south of Lougheed and just east of Willingdon.
"No site has been purchased but within the city's development plans it does identify an area for additional park space and school space."
The district is still a long way from looking at a potential catchment area, Frank said.
While it all depends on what the provincial government's priorities are, once such a project is approved it's typically a three- to four-year process before it would be completed, he said.
"Because we don't have a project yet approved, I would suspect we're looking at a five-year window depending on how quickly it actually is approved."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Area plan needed for south of Dawson

The following article in the Burnaby NewsLeader highlights difficulties that developers may face when seeking approval of rezoning applications for property owned in and around Brentwood.  In this case, it's not an issue of conflict with an existing community plan but rather an issue with the fact that a community plan currently does not exist.  The area in question is the land located south of Dawson Ave between Willingdon and Beta on Alpha Avenue.

The City of Burnaby needs to develop a plan for the area in question and give prospective developers a definitive guideline for their plans and create more interest in the Brentwood area.

Stuck in redevelopment limbo near Brentwood

Published: April 23, 2013 11:00 AM

Wiinton Williams will likely one day get a nice windfall from the sale of a property he owns in the Brentwood area.  
Today, though, his industrial property has a breathtaking property tax bill based solely on its development potential. 
If only he could develop it.  For now, with the taxes so high, he’s having trouble just leasing out the place. Williams says he can’t redevelop his property and sell it for what it could be worth because Burnaby city hall has been slow to come up with an area plan.
Since 1993, his company, Vernon-based Sako Pacific Properties Ltd. has owned the property at 2450 Alpha Ave. in Burnaby where it also owned and operated Universal Concrete Accessories, a business that first opened there in 1970. Starting in 1995, Burnaby city hall started sending Williams’ company notices about redevelopment plans for the Brentwood area, including the industrial lands south of Dawson Street where Sako’s property is located. Williams said since then, his property taxes have soared from about $17,000 in 1995 to an expected $70,000 this year.
Seeing the writing on the wall, he started working with a developer several years back and has spent about $70,000 on site investigations necessary for any redevelopment. But while Burnaby city hall has indicated for years that redevelopment is on the horizon for the area, the planning department has yet to complete a plan for the area south of Dawson to allow any such transformation to begin. 
To make matters worse, when Sako sold its Universal Concrete business it continued to lease the property to its new owners. The business’ owners just vacated the site a couple months ago, relocating to an area with lower property tax costs.  Williams said he found two possible tenants in the film industry, but they decided to look elsewhere when they found out Sako planned to redevelop in the next few years and that the property taxes they’d be expected to help pay were high.
“We’re stuck in limbo, we can’t sell it, we can’t rent it, all we can do is click off 25 grand a month,” said Williams.  About eight years ago when the taxes went up to $32,000, Williams spoke to B.C. Assessment Authority and explained the land is zoned industrial, it’s being used for industrial so it should be paying industrial-level taxes.
“They said, ‘yeah, but it’s going to be high density and then it’s going to be worth a lot more.’”  Williams replied, “When it is high density then it will be worth a lot more, just like you actually have to win the lottery before [you can benefit].”
Sako has yet to appeal its assessment and while they’ve missed this year’s deadline, Williams said they may do so in future. He recently wrote to Burnaby’s community development committee describing his company’s predicament.
Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the committee, said the city’s master plan for the area bounded by Dawson and the railway tracks and Gilmore and Holdom avenues, “is kind of up in the air.”   Even in the late 1990s it was designated for redevelopment but the form and type was never defined by city hall, Jordan explained.

A property on the western section of the area was rezoned several years back for highrises but council decided to put any further applications on hold until a plan could be developed.
One of the issues to be determined is whether some areas are suitable for highrises since some of the land is peat bog.  “You have to consider whether or not stuff is going to sink,” she said.  As it stands currently, property owners could apply to rezone “but we would say no.”  Jordan said she sympathizes with the situation Williams and others in the area find themselves.  “We appreciate that so we’re just asking our staff how much work it would take to get this on the table and moving forward,” she said, noting staff already have their plates full doing similar work for other areas of the city.
Jordan hopes the planning work for the area south of Dawson will be completed by the end of the year.  Kash Kang, B.C. Assessment Authority’s area assessor for the North Fraser region, said Brentwood town centre is a “really good example” of such situations which are not unusual for urban areas in transition.
Kang stressed that property assessments are based on market value and take into account what similar properties in neighbourhoods have sold for recently.  The market will discount properties if there are constraints, such as the fact redevelopment is not yet able to go ahead. But if land is at the stage where it could be rezoned, its value would be “substantially higher,” he noted.
“There’s a distinction between what somebody could do with it if it’s already rezoned versus something that has a horizon that’s possibly three to five years out.”   Kang said similar situations have occurred in Richmond since the Canada Line has gone through there, and will likely also occur with the Evergreen Line out to the Tri-Cities.
He said property owners could appeal their assessments if they believe they’re higher or lower than those given to similar properties in a similar situation.  As for Williams, he said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the responsiveness of city hall staff and council.  “While we feel a little hard done by it’s not really anybody’s fault.”

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grocery store envisioned for Beta and Lougheed

I've heard from different sources that a food store on the corner of Beta Ave and Lougheed Hwy will be a part of Phase 2 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  The arrival of this grocery store will result in 3 supermarkets along a 3 block stretch of Lougheed Hwy.  A Save-On-Foods is located at Madison and Lougheed and a Whole Foods will be located at Rosser and Lougheed where Phase 1 of the Solo District development is currently underway.

No Frills recently backed out of its plan to open a store at the Greystone Plaza next to Burnaby Mountain Golf Course.  According to the Burnaby NewsLeader article below, a SuperValu store is set to open there instead on May 22.

An explanation for No Frills backing out of Greystone might be that  it has plans to open in the Brentwood Town Centre but this has not been confirmed.  A No-Frills store might be a good counter-balance to the pricier Whole Foods and Save-On-Foods stores.


Supermarket set to return to North Burnaby location

Mike Belich could be the most popular guy in North Burnaby.
As the franchisee of a new SuperValu store set to open in Greystone Plaza May 22, all he has to do is show his face and he's got area residents wanting to talk to him.
"I stand out here, the people queue up to talk to me," said Belich, who grew up in East Vancouver and now lives in Chilliwack. "They wait for me to come out and then ask questions."
And while Belich has been busy inside in recent weeks setting up the store, "I'm pretty sure every person in this neighbourhood for a mile around has peeked in the window."
Indeed, while he talks with a NewsLeader reporter outside, a man gets out of his car and shouts across the parking lot, "It's about time. We've been waiting two years for this place to open!"
After a quick friendly chat with Belich, the man turns to his father and tells him to "say goodbye" to the supermarket where he's been shopping in the meantime.
It appears customers at the location, on the corner of Burnwood and Greystone drives near Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, are a loyal bunch.
Ever since the former Marketplace IGA closed in that location in November 2011, the NewsLeader has received periodic calls and emails from area residents wondering when a new grocery store would be opening.
At first Loblaw Companies Ltd. said it planned to open a No Frills store there but by the summer of 2012, it was to be a SuperValu "due to a change in the strategy of the business," the company said at the time.
With many seniors living nearby without easy access to transportation, the location provided a convenient place to shop. Area resident Allison Johns said in an interview a year ago that the IGA also served as a community gathering place.
That's just the sort of store Belich hopes to create.
A second-generation grocer, Belich grew up in the business and is a meatcutter by trade. He's been in the business for 40 years and has also owned the Supervalu franchise in Deep Cove for the past 12 years.
The new store will target customers who like to shop for fresh groceries daily and will feature organic and natural products, along with meat, deli and bakery departments and a selection of items from Loblaws' brands, such as Presidents' Choice. "We want people to tell us what they want," he said.
He believes the lengthy closure of the location was due to construction delays before he got involved as the franchisee.
Some of the former staff of the IGA will be back and led by manager Michelle who has worked with Belich off and on for the past four decades.
At 14,000 square feet, the store will be known as Greystone SuperValue and be open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Belich aims to offer "real personalized service," including home deliveries and phone-in orders, and be a place where people can grab a sandwich and coffee in an environment where staff know them by name.
"I'd like it to be a little place where you can pop your head in and say 'how's it going?'"
Greystone SuperValu, at 1601 Burnwood Drive, will open Wednesday, May 22 at 8 a.m.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

More roadwork at Douglas and Still Creek

Burnaby Council has approved more road improvements for Douglas Rd and Still Creek Ave (Engineering Agreement E-14 2009).  This is a continuation of previous work that saw the widening of Douglas Road between Goring and Still Creek Avenues.  The next phase will see the widening of Still Creek Avenue between Douglas Ave and Westminster Ave.

Once work begins, expect delays to be exacerbated by the scheduled trains that cross at Douglas Rd as was the case with the first phase.

Aviara site excavation underway

Ledingham McAllister's Aviara project at Douglas Road and Halifax Street is underway as the site excavation nears completion and cranes have been installed to begin construction.  The sleek-looking site office is located on Gilmore Ave.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another 4 years of Richard Lee

After an election in which only 52% of eligible voters even bothered to show to vote in, Richard Lee will hold the seat for Burnaby North for 4 more years as he was re-elected for a fourth term.  As has been the case for the past 12 years, we should expect more of the same which is a lame MLA that makes no effort to represent Burnaby North's interests.  Stay tuned on Twitter to see his hobnobbing exploits at gala and special event photo ops all year for 4 years.   Better luck next time to his opponents.

Friday, May 10, 2013

My vote goes to the Green Party

This upcoming election, I will be voting for the Green Party.  Why would I vote for a party that everyone says has no chance of forming government after May14? Call me naive, but I still believe integrity counts for something.

The letter below to the Burnaby Now speaks for me perfectly.

People say that voting for the Green Party is like "throwing your vote away" because the Greens will not form a government after May 14.  My counter to such an opinion is that we've had a BC Liberal MLA named Richard Lee that has done nothing for Burnaby North during his 12 years in office.  I'M SERIOUS.  HE REALLY HAS NOT DONE ANYTHING FOR HIS CONSTITUENTS AS THE MLA FOR BURNABY NORTH.  As a result, anyone that has voted for Richard Lee has thrown away their vote.

Regardless of what you understand or believe, please get out and vote on May 14th.  Don't throw away your vote by not exercising your franchise, regardless of your political view.

Love letter for the Green party

Dear Editor:
I have some ideas of what I would like to see happening in my community with respect to government. I love how one of the "green" parties - the "greenest" one I can think of - is running in the upcoming provincial election. Perhaps not at all sure they will win, but running with integrity, because they believe in change - massive change - they know is needed to reclaim democracy from the hands of corporate-owned governments.
Known as the Green Party of B.C., I appreciate their love of the environment, never wavering, always committed to preserving our natural beauty, considering we are each wise stewards of the earth. I love that they are aware that the earth sustains all life forms and that whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.
I love that they know every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. I love that they desire public participation at every level by directly including citizens in decision-making processes.
I love that they know that violence is self-defeating, war must end and crime must be rooted out at its cause. I love that they know punishing crime will not solve or end crime, as punishment does not heal a wrong.
I love that they know that instead of people being subservient to the economy, the economy, when run with love and integrity, naturally provides for human needs within the natural limits of the earth and that local self-reliance to the greatest practical extent is the best way to achieve this goal.
I love that they know that the ethics of cooperation and understanding easily replace the values of domination and control.
I love that they know that all humans celebrate the biological diversity of the earth and the cultural, sexual, and spiritual diversity of the human race.
I love that they realize power must be returned to local communities in order to be reasonably managed with integrity.
I love that they know global sustainability and international justice can only be achieved when responsibility is shared at all levels of society.
I may be called an idealist by some, nevertheless, my ideas of what I would like to see for our future are valid. More than that, some cultures have lived successfully for thousands of years aligned with the planet, until they were introduced to so-called modern-day "progress."
I'm interested in knowing what kind of a future would you like for your community?
E. Harrison, Burnaby


Young people do not matter to BC Liberal candidate

In a clear message to students that their opinion does not matter,  Burnaby-Deer Lake candidate for the BC Liberals Dr Shian Gu decided not to attend the all candidates debate at Moscrop Secondary School.  Instead of giving students an opportunity to ask him questions so that they might understand what values Dr. Gu stands for, Dr. Gu decided to attend a photo opportunity in Richmond where he could increase his profile in the Chinese language media.  After all, most high school students are too young to vote and Dr. Gu has made a strategic decision to shun those that are of no immediate use to him politically.

Considering that the Burnaby General Hospital's woes have been well documented in the media for years, it would have been nice for a doctor to share his views on BGH and perhaps answer to how his BC Liberal Party has interfered in finding solutions to the ongoing problems at BGH that they have ignored during their tenure over the past 12 years.

This is just another reason not to throw away your vote on the BC Liberals.

Burnaby NewsLeader article below

Liberal candidate Gu a no-show at Moscrop debate

New Democrat incumbent Kathy Corrigan was there.
So was her BC Green Party challenger Rick McGowan.
But at the Burnaby-Deer Lake all-candidates meeting held at Moscrop secondary Tuesday morning, Dr. Shian Gu of the BC Liberals was nowhere to be found.
Corrigan was not impressed, saying the event organizers told her Gu had instead decided to attend a photo-op in Richmond.
"I think we're trying to get young people engaged in the political process, and one of the ways to do that is to come and talk to them about the issues that matter to them," she said after the event.
"The fact that he didn't show up I think, frankly, is disrespectful of the students and the process and of the effort that the organizers made," Corrigan said. "I think it shows where the priorities are and to me, students and the future of our country are huge priorities and I was really honoured to have been part of this today."
McGowan said he was "disappointed" but didn't know what Gu's reasons were for not participating.
"It looks like the Liberals are taking a page out of the federal Conservative campaigning booklet," he remarked, referring to past no-shows by federal Conservative candidates at such debates.
Gu said in an emailed statement that he originally planned to attend the Moscrop event but changed his plans at the last minute to participate in an event to encourage Chinese voters to vote.
"I was very much looking forward to speaking to Grade 12 students, the voters of the future, about the importance of voting and getting involved in politics, but at this point in the campaign, where every hour counts, sometimes we have to make hard choices about how we as candidates allocate our time," Gu said.
"I decided that it is equally as important to get the message out to Chinese voters, who have not historically voted in high numbers, that voting is extremely important, no matter which candidate they choose to mark on their ballot."
With Gu represented by a sign and an empty chair, Corrigan and McGowan carried on without him, sharing the BC NDP's and Green Party's visions for the future with Moscrop students.
In answer to the students' first question, about their stances on the Enbridge pipeline, Corrigan said both that and Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline was not worth risking the environment. There were other ways, such as increasing skills training opportunities, how the government could help create jobs.
The Greens are also opposed to the pipelines and increased tanker traffic and believe diversifying the economy is key, McGowan said.
As for financial aid for students, he said the Greens would eventually like to offer free post-secondary education although it "will take a lot of work to figure that out." In the meantime, the Greens would look at grants and loans for students and incentives for people educated in British Columbia to work here to address the shortage of skilled labour.
While Corrigan liked the idea of free post-secondary education, she said it's a "real balancing act" to also be fiscally responsible.
She said the New Democrats will create a $100-million, non-repayable, needs-based  student grant program to make such an education more accessible to people who couldn't otherwise afford it.
The NDP will also resurrect and improve the apprenticeship and skills-training program, said Corrigan, noting that 80 per cent of jobs in the future will require some sort of education beyond high school.
Many of the students' questions dealt with social issues, such as the female student who questioned the benefit of the NDP's proposed $20-a-month increase in social assistance rates.
While that $20 won't solve poverty, "it will make a big difference to those people that are on income assistance," Corrigan said, stressing the limits of taxation. "It's impossible to do everything all at once."
In addition, the NDP also plans to implement a family bonus program that would pay up to $900 annually for every child in a low-income family and will reduce childcare fees for infants and toddlers by 20 per cent.
Corrigan noted that for several years under the BC Liberals the province has been the worst in Canada for child poverty, only improving to second-worst this year.
McGowan described the Greens' idea for a "guaranteed livable income" in which people whose incomes fall below a set income level would receive top-ups by the province. It would be funded by eliminating the current system of subsidies and bureaucracy and not penalize people for getting a job as is currently the case.
In response to a question about how the province would help people with special needs, Corrigan said she would have liked the Liberals' Gu to have been available to answer.
"Under the Liberals, Community Living BC, the agency which delivers services for adults [with developmental disabilities], has been seriously cut by the Liberals and their platform says they're going to cut supports almost in half," she said.
The NDP would instead increase supports to the agency in targeted ways, "but certainly people living with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect, they deserve to be supported ... and we'll make sure that that happens."
As for making the cost of living in Burnaby more affordable, Corrigan said the NDP plans to take some of the stress off the rental market by building 1,500 units of affordable housing provincewide.
She said the NDP would also look at a proposal by Burnaby city hall, rejected by the Liberal government, for a special rental zoning to prevent rental buildings from being knocked down and replaced by condominiums.
As for how the NDP can support the mining industry, described by a student as "the most polluting sector," while also being pro-environment, Corrigan said it's a matter finding a balance. The party would process some mining permits faster, "but that does not mean that we are going to accept projects which are harmful to the environment."
Rather, the NDP would bring the environmental assessment process back to B.C. In the case of the pipelines, "the Liberal government handed it over to the federal government [which] then lowered the standards of the assessment so that fish habitats and so on are in danger."
McGowan responded that a certain level of mining and resource extraction is necessary and that the Greens would push to have those resources used more efficiently.
And just like students at Byrne Creek secondary's candidates debate, the Moscrop students wanted to know where the candidates stood on the decriminalization of marijuana.
For the record, both Corrigan and McGowan support it. The Green Party wants to tax and regulate it like alcohol and tobacco, which would also keep the profits out of the hands of organized crime, McGowan said.
"Nobody should end up with a criminal record because they smoked pot, that's ridiculous," said Corrigan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Article on condo report misleading

The Burnaby NewsLeader article's report on a report to quell fears about foreign ownership of BC property has failed to focus on a key issue related to foreign ownership .  Just a note: I tend to include non-resident Canadians (residents of other provinces and territories) in the same category as foreign ownership which is unlikely to have been considered in the report below.

When talking about unoccupied condos, the report fails to either acknowledge the existence of occupied condos owned by foreigners or has failed to separate them from occupied condos owned by non foreigners (BC residents).  The issue is not only about unoccupied condos but also about foreign-owned condos that are indeed occupied.

Questions that need to be asked include:

  1. How many of the occupied condos are owned by foreigners?
  2. How does the reporter know if the dwelling is occupied by the owner or by a renter? 
  3. How does the report find out whether or not the occupant is a foreigner/non-resident or a Canadian resident of BC (unless the reporter works for Canada Immigration)?  The Census data is far from accurate as there is no way to scrutinize the information for accuracy.
Such reports often use unreliable statistics because the numbers themselves are incomplete, rendering the report unreliable and misleading.

What is most interesting about this issue is that no political party wants to talk about the issue of non-resident ownership of BC real estate.

No evidence of glut of unoccupied condos: report

Fears that foreign buyers and other temporary residents are snapping up an abnormal share of Metro Vancouver condos aren't borne out by statistics, according to a new analysis.
Urban Futures researchers examined 2011 Census data and found just 0.8 per cent of all homes in the Metro region and 1.4 per cent of apartments are occupied by foreign or temporary residents.
Vancouver and West Vancouver were above average at just under two per cent, while other larger cities in the region had fewer foreign or temporary apartment dwellers, including Richmond at 1.3 per cent, Burnaby at 1.1 per cent and Surrey at 0.4 per cent.
There had been media reports earlier this year that up to a quarter of condos in certain parts of downtown Vancouver are either unoccupied or occupied by non-residents, prompting renewed concern that wealthy foreign investors are parking money here.

Some observers warned of the rise of ghost neighbourhoods that look dense but don't have enough active residents to create a vibrant community.
Urban Futures found 6.2 per cent of Metro apartments were unoccupied – below the national average – and said there's no basis to conclude that's excessive.
The areas with the highest levels of unoccupied apartments were UBC at 10.1 per cent, Surrey at 9.2 per cent, Pitt Meadows at 8.7 per cent, West Vancouver at 6.9 per cent and Vancouver at 6.7 per cent.
"Much ado is being made about nothing when it comes to the prevalence of foreign and/or temporary residents and unoccupied dwellings in this region," the report said.
It noted temporary residents include large numbers of students – there are 250,000 post-secondary students enrolled across the region who would represent the third largest city if they were clumped together.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Burnaby North All-Candidates Meeting Video

The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion plan for it's Westridge Terminal was a topic of discussion at the all-candidates meeting held on April 28 and is a major election issue as the NDP and BC Liberals have been accusing each other of being deliberately vague in their positions on pipeline development and increased tanker traffic in and around the Port of Vancouver.

The following video was taken by Burnaby Pipeline Watch and shows the views of 4 of Burnaby North's candidates representing (from left to right in the video) the NDP, and Green Party, Conservative Party, and BC Liberal Party.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Worst ever MLA right here in Brentwood?

This blog is not intended to express my political beliefs as most of my topics and posts will show.  However, as the May 14, 2013 Provincial Election approaches, I must take the opportunity to comment on the election as the incumbent MLA for Burnaby North has his office within the Brentwood neighbourhood across the street from Brentwood Mall on Willingdon Ave.

BC Liberal MLA Richard Lee has held the seat for Burnaby North since 2001 and is running again for a 4th term.  The job of an MLA is to represent his/her constituents in the BC Legislature in Victoria where issues affecting the MLA's constituency are brought forward for discussion and possible action. However, if you look closely to his website or  Twitter content, it becomes apparent that Mr. Lee is keeping himself busy (between elections) only to win the next election by attending public and private events throughout the year and ensuring that he is in as many photos as possible.  This strategy is quite effective in gaining recognition in the community to advertise himself and the BC Liberals for the next election. If you query MLA Richard Lee in Google Image Search, you will see that despite being an enigma in the world of MLA work, Richard Lee has extensive coverage of himself in the world of photo opportunities.

I wouldn't have had a problem with Mr. Lee promoting himself the way he has as long as he hadn't been doing this on the tax-payers dime receiving a rich MLA salary (and eventually a fat pension) while he completely neglects his duties as an MLA.  As a taxpayer, I have a problem with having paid Richard Lee's MLA salary for the past 12 years so that he could devote himself to political self promotion instead of fulfilling his duty of representing the constituents of Burnaby North.

Let's take a look at Mr. Lee's activities during the election campaign.  Instead of speaking to everybody in the constituency, Richard Lee has solely focused on the Chinese speaking community.  Last Sunday, I answered a telephone call and was spoken to in Chinese.  When I informed the caller that they must have the wrong number, the caller asked if someone of a certain name (Chinese name) was not in fact living at my address by mentioning my previous address where I had lived.  I informed the caller that the address that he mentioned was my previous address.  The caller stated that he was going by his election callout list to contact voters.  In fact, the previous owner of my previous address was of Chinese descent and the people that moved into the house after we had moved out are also of Chinese background.  This callout also uses recorded messages in Chinese during the election campaign to galvanize the Chinese vote in Burnaby North.  I have received recorded messages during the previous 3 elections from Richard Lee's campaign in Chinese although I have never received a telephone call in English from his campaign.  The other political parties in Burnaby North have contacted me by phone or in person using English whereas Richard Lee's efforts remain in the Chinese speaking segment of Burnaby North.

Let me be clear.   I don't mind if candidates connect with various segments of the community in their target language because it is important to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to become informed about political choices. However, it is important to connect with everyone rather than just a particular group as Richard Lee is doing.  He is focusing on a single linguistic group while ignoring the rest of the community and continues to win a seat with the slimmest of margins. The ethnic voting strategy explains Mr. Lee's Twitter presence citing his constant attendance at Asian galas and events which is consistent with the overall BC Liberal election playbook.

Parroting the party line

Like a well-trained parrot, Mr. Lee has constantly squawked the BC Liberal line that they are the best at managing BC's finances while mentioning how terrible the economy was under the NDP during the 1990s. 

If we look at the NDP decade when it inherited a stumbling BC economy in 1991 and left a BC economy on the upswing in 2001, the BC debt rose from $20 billion to $33 billion in ten years under the NDP.  However, if we look at the 12 years of BC Liberal rule that the BC Liberals themselves tout as a period of unprecedented economic success thanks to their management of BC's finances, the BC debt rose from $33 billion to what is projected to be $64 billion by 2014.  $11 billion of that debt has been incurred over the past 2 years under Premier Christy Clark.  If the BC Liberals have nearly doubled our debt during the so-called good economic times, what will they do during the tough times that are expected to come our way in the near future?  It is a fact that the foundation of Richard Lee and his party's campaign has been built on dishonesty from the beginning.

Let's shift our attention from the big picture and focus it on the local picture here in Burnaby over the past 12 years during Richard Lee's tenure.  The following are 4 local issues on which Mr. Lee has been virtually non-existent (except when its a photo op) yet busy Tweeting about unrelated topics.

Burnaby General Hospital

During MLA Richard Lee's watch, Burnaby General Hospital was recently rated as one of the worst hospitals (worst 8) in Canada. BGH also has one of the highest rates of C difficile infections in Canada and has the worst hospital fatality rate in BC.  I am sure that many others have personal stories about the state of BGH (a hospital in which I was born), but I'll share one of my own.  During Richards Lee's tenure, my wife (and unborn daughter at the time) nearly died from internal bleeding due to multiple misdiagnosis's at Burnaby General when brought to Emergency as a pregnant patient with extreme lower stomach pains but was sent home after being told at the busy ward that she probably had constipation.  The poor conditions at BGH are directly related to the lack of support for health care professionals by the BC Government of which Richard Lee is a representative.  The recent politically motivated BGH committee scandal involving Richard Lee and other BC Liberal cronies is an example of what Richard Lee thinks of the patients and overworked health professionals at BGH.

Chevron Refinery Leak

The Chevron Refinery at the the north foot of Willingdon Ave was found to have been leaking oil into  Burrard Inlet for quite some time before it became public knowledge in 2010. The source of the leak has yet to be found as it continues to leak into the soil above the waterfront. This problem dates back even further with another leak that was discovered by high school students in 2001.  Despite the problem of the leak and with the air quality concerns of residents in the immediate vicinity of the refinery being in Richard Lee's constituency, the Chevron Refinery has been given a free pass from Richard Lee as no pressure has been put on Chevron to clean up and control the pollution it emits and leaks into the environment.

Policy 5.45 Burnaby School Board

Education is a provincial matter.  In 2011, the Burnaby School Board introduced Policy 5.45, a policy aimed at combating homophobia and homophobic bullying of children in schools.  The policy brought out a vocal and political opposition from conservative members of the community, many of which are are of Chinese background and a large target group of Richard Lee's election strategy.  Education being a provincial matter, it would have been nice if the MLA representing the BC Government (which happens to have a premier that once was the BC Education Minister) had made a statement in support of a policy that deals with bullying.  However both Richard Lee and his leader Christy Clark refused to make a statement on whether or not they supported the policy.   Their  copout response was that the issue is a matter for the Burnaby School Board.  Premier Christy Clark had a good reason to remain silent instead of doing the right thing because her child attends a private school that opposes such policies that recognize the plight of victims of homophobia.  Richard Lee remained silent either because he himself harbours homophobic beliefs or he is afraid of losing votes and his cushy job.  Only Richard Lee knows the real reason for his silence.  Regardless of the reasons, they do not care about the well-being of all children as they have shown with their silence and inaction  during the height of the controversy surrounding Policy 5.45 in 2011.

HST Issue

After the BC Liberals unexpectedly and underhandedly announced the implementation of the HST days after the previous provincial election and citizen opposition to the HST grew out of the BC Liberals' bungling of the issue, Richard Lee stated that he would vote to support the HST even if the majority of his Burnaby North constituents opposed it.  This sums up Richard Lee as an MLA in Burnaby North.  Richard Lee acts for his political party's interests over the desire of the majority of his electorate.  Richard Lee has never represented Burnaby's interests although he pretends to do so by strategically putting his name on projects and developments that would have occurred in Burnaby regardless of the political party in power and regardless of the person occupying the MLA seat in the Legislature.

There you have it.  The Brentwood area of Burnaby North may hold the distinction of having possibly the worst MLA in BC history based on the fact that he completely ignores the interests of the constituency as a whole in order to save his cushy job.

What was the point of this post?  

Disinterest in local issues and voter apathy results in incompetent politicians getting a free ride while they play with our lives and our children's lives.  It is our responsibility to become informed of the issues that affect us locally, nationally and globally and act on that information on election day.  Don't just take my word for what I've said here and please don't take Richard Lee's word for it.  You have 12 days to become informed on the issues.  Research MLA Richard Lee for yourself.  Talk to all the candidates and ask them questions and hold them to account if they try to avoid answering your concerns.  They owe it to you as a voter.

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Please get out and vote this upcoming election.  Who you vote for is up to you.