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.