Monday, January 26, 2015

Evening stroll through Brentwood

As the Brentwood area continues its transformation from the evening quiet, dark void into the evening entertainment destination that it is slated to become I can't help but take a few photos of it's current state.    It will be the only evidence of how quiet the neighbourhood once was.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Public Realm Design Standards for Town Centre Streets

As Brentwood continues to change with current and future developments on the books, we will begin to see increased street-level human activity.

The City of Burnaby has posted guidelines for street and sidewalk design in its town centres.  Brentwood Town Centre is mentioned with a map of the area included.  The following images and more detailed information are available for viewing on the City of Burnaby website through the link below:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Brentwood tunnel work continues

The new underground entry from Lougheed Hwy continues to be carved out into what used to be the eastern parking lot of Brentwood Mall.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

October occupancy for Solo's Stratus

The Stratus tower in Solo District is now tentatively scheduled for occupancy by October this year.  The original occupancy had been August.  However, Whole Foods may open earlier than the occupancy date.

The Whole Foods sign has already been installed on the retail level of the complex.

No Target for Brentwood...or Canada for that matter

As locals have been wondering lately about what new retailers and restaurants might be coming to the Brentwood Mall redevelopment, news have come out today to settle once and for all which store will definitely not be coming to the Amazing Brentwood.

(CBC News Story)

Target to close all 133 Canadian stores, gets CAA protection

Retail chain opened in Canada in spring 2013 but has decided to close shop

By Pete Evans, CBC News Posted: Jan 15, 2015 8:37 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 15, 2015 11:51 AM ET

Target says it plans to discontinue all operations in Canada and has been granted protection from creditors, less than two years after opening to much fanfare.
In a release early Thursday, the U.S. retail chain said it will close all its locations in Canada. There are 133 stores across the country with about 17,600 employees.
The company launched in Canada in March of 2013, not quite two years ago.
But after high expectations, the chain failed to deliver right out of the gate as customers faced higher-than-expected prices, and empty shelves as the retailer had problems with its distribution chain.
Target lost almost $1 billion in its first year in Canada, and while the losses have shrank since then, the chain is still losing money daily.
Executives repeatedly promised they would get it right and reaffirmed their commitment to Canada as recently as July, but ultimately decided to pull the plug.
"After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021," the U.S. parent company's CEO Brian Cornell said in a release Thursday, explaining the justification for the shutdown.
Target filed an application in a Toronto courtroom for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act early Thursday morning. That request was granted.
The federal law allows companies that can't pay their debts the ability to restructure themselves. Without it, the companies and individuals that an insolvent company owes money to can technically start seizing assets. But because Target has applied under CCAA, that won't happen here yet.
Aaron Alt, most recently Target's senior vice-president and treasurer, has been named CEO of Target Canada to execute the winddown process under the court's supervision.
Target's shareholders welcomed the news, sending shares in the company up almost three per cent on the NYSE on Thursday. Closing up shop in Canada means the company has more money to focus its efforts on shoring up its also-struggling U.S. operations.
Target Canada 20140124
Target launched to much fanfare in March 2013, but the chain was plagued by problems. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
And at least one analyst also hinted that it was a good idea to end the failed experiment in Canada.
"Target’s decision to exit Canada after less than two years of store operations is an admission that it has failed in its attempt to enter a new market," Moody's analyst Charlie O'Shea said. "With over $1.5 billion in … losses, it is clear that the early flaws in Target’s strategy to simultaneously open stores while building out or developing its supply chain became insurmountable."

Severance will be paid

Target has hired international consultancy Alvarez & Marsal to oversee the liquidation and wind-down process.
Most of Target's stores are in locations that were taken over from existing Zellers leases, but the company does own some real estate in Canada. 
Financial advisory firm Lazard Ltd. will advise the company with regards to possibly selling its real-estate assets. 
A large number of Target's locations are owned by Toronto-based RioCan Investment Trust. Units of that REIT shed about one per cent on the TSX on Thursday when the Target news came out.
The company is seeking the court's permission to set up a $70-million fund to ensure all employees affected by the move get at least 16 weeks in severance pay. The stores will remain open while the company completes the liquidation process.
"Your efforts have been extraordinary, and absolutely nothing about our decision to exit diminishes your hard work and dedication," Cornell told employees in a letter on Thursday, a copy of which has been obtained by CBC News.
Target said the decision to close shop in Canada will cost between $500 million and $600 million in cash from the U.S. parent's bottom line, but results in a writedown of about $5.4 billion from an accounting perspective in the upcoming fourth-quarter earnings.
Target is the latest retailer to go under in what's becoming an increasingly tough retail environment in Canada.
Fashion shops MexxSmart Set and Jacob have all announced plans to close down in recent months. Montreal-based Le Chateau hasn't officially closed, but the clothing chain has been in a tough spot of late.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

TransLink Referendum: more funding needed but TransLink execs must go

As we get closer to the upcoming vote on the TransLink Referendum, Metro Vancouver taxpayers will be required to vote on whether or not they want to pay more taxes in the form of a half percent increase in the Provincial Sales Tax. In a region where housing costs alone have soared out of control leaving wages in the dust, it is going to be a hard sell.

I am not alone when I say that I have a problem with the underlying principle behind transit funding  when compared to the underlying principle behind road funding.

Let's be clear; I am in favour of increasing rapid transit and bus service in the region. A well developed transit system (which ours is not) is something that Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley needs. I have no problem supporting increased funding for transit. However,  the TransLink Executive that consistently squanders hundreds of millions of dollars is making it difficult for people to support giving TransLink more money to squander. The current turnstile debacle is one prime example (of many prime examples) of how incompetent the TransLink Executive is. But back to the underlying principle.

Why a referendum for transit funding when road expansion does not require referendums?

The BC government has recently announced a bridge replacement for the Massey Tunnel at taxpayers' expense without a referendum. The bridge will benefit the billion dollar shipping and trucking industry but the average taxpayer will foot the bill. Likewise, increased transit funded by taxpayers will benefit the shipping and trucking industry in the form of less traffic on the roads for container trucks using those roads.  Why is it that public road expansion requires no referendum and a seemingly endless supply of funding but public transportation does not get even close to the funding that road building gets and now we need a referendum to decide if our public transportation system can receive a little bit more money to help it along?

Can we expect a better, well reasoned option to expand a needed transit system than what is currently being presented by our decision-makers? Obviously the people in power are unable to provide better and we as taxpayers are obviously unable to vote better. So here we are. We have a region where the population will increase, resulting in more commuters driving cars all while our decision-makers continue to argue about the details. Unfortunately with this referendum, we are voting on the better of two undesirable outcomes. So here we are.  And which is better?

Why voters in Burnaby should vote "Yes" in the referendum

The areas that have little to no transit options are the sources of the traffic congestion in Burnaby.  Commuters from under-serviced regions like Surrey and Langley need a rapid transit system that connects into the existing Millennium and Expo lines running through Burnaby. A prime example of non-Burnaby cars clogging Burnaby roads is the Port Mann Bridge and Hwy 1 expansion that has resulted in massive local traffic congestion on Canada Way as car commuters are avoiding the tolls on the Port Mann Bridge in favour of using the un-tolled Pattullo Bridge.   Had rapid transit been part of the Port Mann Expansion, we would not have been required to spend as much then as we do now. Regardless, expansion of the rapid transit system connecting into the existing SkyTrain lines from outside Burnaby will significantly decrease automobile traffic running through Burnaby as a viable commuting alternative.

TransLink Executive must be fired

It would be great if a "Yes" vote also meant that the current TransLink Executive is removed.  But that would require admitting that a lack of integrity exists among those that spend our money and make decisions on our behalf. I would love to be able to tell the execs that they are fired. Only in my dreams.

A "Yes" vote may get us part or all of the following but a "No" vote will definitely get us nothing more than what we already have which isn't much considering the growth path Metro Vancouver is on.