BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) sign on a building at the main campus in Burnaby. Shutterstock

BCIT 50-year campus plan could include rental housing—if Burnaby is on board

Burnaby’s city council will soon decide whether to enter into a memorandum of understanding with BCIT to support the implementation of the plan.

By Srushti Gangdev | July 28, 2022 |5:00 am

In the next 50 years, BC Institute of Technology’s Burnaby campus could become home to purpose-built rental buildings for members of the general public.

That possibility is laid out in the post-secondary institution’s campus plan, approved by the BCIT board of governors in May 2018.

Burnaby’s city council has authorized staff to enter into a memorandum of understanding with BCIT to support the implementation of the plan.

It comes after a 2021 bylaw passed in council that rezoned the campus area to the “P6 BCIT District”.

A report to the city’s planning and development committee last week says the MOU will make sure that BCIT and the City of Burnaby are aligned on policies that will “set out a framework for the consideration of future development on portions of the BCIT Campus to permit potential uses that are currently not permitted in the P6 BCIT District”.

A purpose-built rental building for people who are not a part of the BCIT community would fall under that category—as would a proposed hotel that could host meetings, conferences, short-term visitors to campus, and additional liquor license establishments.

The MOU says that while the city isn’t necessarily opposed to approving developments like those, it would have to consider them on a site-specific basis.

Housing for full-time students is also one of the top priorities laid out in the campus plan, which notes there are only 336 beds currently on campus—and they will need to be replaced in the next few years.

BCIT plans to build 2,500 beds of various types—including full-term housing, short-term housing for students in short courses, and family-oriented housing—by 2040.

The MOU also seeks to clarify a previous agreement between BCIT and the city regarding the stewardship of Guichon Creek, an important tributary of Still Creek that was historically a migration route for salmon and trout.

Urbanization and damming in the 20th century meant that the stream became sterile for fish. Although there have been significant revitalization efforts since the 70s and 80s, returning much of the creek to its formerly natural state, salmon and trout are still unable to navigate through the portions of Guichon Creek north of Ford Street that are currently underground and channeled into a pipe.

The MOU notes that BCIT, in the course of seeking funding for new developments or infrastructure upgrades in the area, will attempt wherever possible to secure funding for the “daylighting” of nearby sections of the creek in the process.

“The design for daylighting of any of the piped section of the creek should put highest priority on ensuring the safe passage of fish between Canada Way and the southern natural section of Guichon Creek, meaning sufficient water flow, appropriate water quality, suitable stream morphology, appropriate substrate material, and replacement or retrofit of existing pipes for fish passage through stream segments that remain enclosed,” reads the MOU.

The MOU says that daylighted portions should provide fish habitat as well—as long as the main design of the daylighting is focused on becoming a “multifunctional urban waterway” with crossings, seating areas, and walking cycling paths, rather than simply a natural riparian area.

The City of Burnaby and BCIT would collaborate on the designs of those daylighted sections under the MOU.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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