Burnaby City Hall. Burnaby City Council is meeting on Monday, Feb 14.

Community controversy managed, dealt with or avoided at city council

Burnaby's Bainbridge and Lakeview neighbourhoods both had contentious city council motions on the future of their respective area.

By Curtis Seufert | July 27, 2022 |5:00 am

Hi all, it’s Curtis, the summer intern here. With just a few weeks left with the Beacon I just wanted to say that it’s been a real pleasure getting to know the city and its people while covering all things Burnaby. It’s been a kind and welcoming experience, between the Burnaby Beacon team and everyone I’ve met in this lovely city, so I just wanted to say thank you for the warm welcome.

In any case, you might have noticed that we didn’t share a council preview last week, and that this council roundup is being shared with you on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Don’t worry, we’re still focussed on making sure you’re up-to-date with the most important news from city council: we just have a new format we’re trying out to see how things go.

And indeed council made a number of decisions that are set to affect the future of some Burnaby neighbourhoods, so without further ado, let’s jump in.

Bainbridge and Lochdale’s Urban Village Community Plans: approved

Bainbridge and Lochdale’s Urban Village Community Plans were approved by council last night. These neighbourhoods are two of the thirteen areas in Burnaby that are designated as ‘Urban Villages’ in the city’s Official Community Plan, thereby requiring “local area planning process… with reference to local conditions”.

While the goal of an Urban Village community plan is to transform a neighbourhood into a more mixed-use area, with “varied housing options, commercial services… [and] community amenities”, what that actually looks like in practise depends on the neighbourhood itself.

In the case of both Bainbridge and Lochdale, community consultation on their respective plans involved a multi-phase process from fall of 2020 until this past spring, with both plans receiving the rubber stamp on Monday night.

Vibe Check

As acknowledged by the councillors, community plans can never please everyone. But some plans pass with more controversy than others.

Lochdale’s plan passed without much discussion: while the report says there was a diversity in community opinion—with some community members asking for more density than proposed and others asking for much less—there weren’t that many changes made to the draft plan after it was presented to Lochdale community members this past spring.

Bainbridge, however, was more contentious. In particular, future development of areas east of Bainbridge Avenue were strongly opposed by many residents, with some desiring all properties east of Bainbridge and south of Lougheed to be excluded from any future land use considerations.

As a compromise in the final plan, there are no changes to existing single family zoning for the contended area, but it has been designated as a Future Planning Area, which means that different, potentially denser housing choices in the area “may be considered as part of future city-wide or neighbourhood planning processes, subject to further consultation.”

Furthermore, areas adjacent to the Future Planning Area were adjusted in the final plan to allow for smoother building height and density transitions. In a Planning and Development Committee of council that saw this finalized plan earlier this month, Coun. Calendino wondered whether the changes were enough, but acknowledged it was past the point of debate.

“I keep arguing but I won’t anymore because obviously the plan is in front of us and we have to go with it,” said Calendino.

At Monday’s council meeting, however, Calendino and others took a more positive tone, acknowledging that despite the challenge of balancing density with city interfacing and neighbourhood character near Bainbridge Ave, it’s a lot of work for staff to put something like this together.

“I know that there’s a lot more than those lots on the east side of Bainbridge… and I look forward to seeing west of Bainbridge redevelop into their vision that everyone has for it,” said Councillor Colleen Jordan.

Lakefield Drive Active Transportation Project: Back to the drawing board

 

Since FortisBC’s Pattullo Gas Line Replacement project led to construction along Lakefield Drive/4th Street, the City has hoped to seize the opportunity to improve transportation in that area between Wedgewood Street and Nursery Street.

Enter the Lakefield Drive Active Transportation Project (LDATIP), which aims to improve “active transportation facilities for pedestrians and cyclists” in the area.

An initial design concept was presented to the public in May of this year which included, most notably, a road closure of Lakefield Drive between Reigate Road and Elwell Street for an on-street bike path and a new sidewalk.

While the segment would still be accessible to emergency vehicles, public feedback was divided on how it would impact traffic, safety, or even meet the stated goals of having an All Ages and Abilities (AAA) bike path.

Given the controversy, council was presented with three options for the future of the LDATIP: close the road to vehicle traffic, keep the road open but add bike lanes on the side of the road, or send the project back to city staff for review, with a target for construction by spring 2023.

Vibe Check

Each of the first two options have their pros and cons laid out in the council motion.

Option 1, closing the road to vehicles, was purported to better address safety concerns for high-speed cyclists maneuvering as steep as a 13% grade on the road.

Option 2 would look to keep the road open, but adding protected bike lanes on the sides of the road would mean removing on-street parking and public realm space.

Outside of the council motion, however, other issues with the road closure approach were raised, most notably by Lakefield resident and cyclist John Morrison, at a June 20th Council meeting.

At that council meeting, Morrison brought a 502-signature petition against the initial plan of closing the road, and said that the on-street bike path would likely not see much use, as even experienced cyclers like himself tend to avoid 4th street/Lakefield Drive for its steep grades.

He said due to its steep grades, a road closure wouldn’t be enough to make the route suitable for all ages and abilities, and that taking cars off that road might even make it more dangerous, since car traffic can help beat back the buildup of algae, leaves and moss which makes the road slippery.

Morrison also argued that the road closure would limit both external traffic passing through the area and local traffic that would have to take a lengthier route to exit the insular neighbourhood to get into East Burnaby.

But this week, council had also received a 205-signature petition in favour of Option 1, arguing that it is in fact the safest option for cyclists, and that with the on-street parking required for Option 2, those looking to use the baseball diamond or off-leash dog park would end up filling the local side streets.

As such, council went with Option 3, putting the design proposals back to city staff for another go-around, which Coun. Joe Keithley called a “wise move considering the amount of consternation” from the community.

Rapid-fire roundup

Urban Village Guidelines

Council adopted the Urban Village Design Guidelines for future Urban Village planning purposes, which includes recommendations for various guidelines for future Urban Village design elements, such as building orientation and height, sustainability, safety, accessibility and parking.

Burnaby Park Dedication

Council completed its first, second, and third readings of a bylaw to dedicate various areas as park by bylaw. The areas include around 205 acres of city-owned land around Burnaby Lake Park, the Cariboo and Brunette River Conservation Lands, Deer Lake Park, and Stoney Creek Park.

But the city will have to wait to actually adopt the bylaw, since the park dedication question will be put to the public via referendum on the election ballot in October.

MOU with BCIT

Council also authorized staff to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with BCIT to support the implementation of its Campus Plan. The MOU is meant to clarify understandings of issues like permitted uses and on-campus housing in the BCIT zoning district, as well as the future management of local Guichon Creek.

Curtis Seufert

Curtis is a summer editorial intern with Burnaby Beacon.

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