Overpass overtime: Burnaby council mulls over proposed Highway 1 overpass
What do you think about this proposed overpass for Highway 1?
It was jam-packed Monday night for Burnaby city council, with long discussions about a proposed pedestrian and cycling overpass that will stretch over Highway 1.
Here are some key discussion points from this week’s council meeting.
The Building Retrofit Taskforce
First on the docket was a presentation from the Building Retrofit Taskforce, which focused on recommendations to shape Burnaby’s Zero-Emissions Building Retrofit Strategy.
In total, the task force came up with eight high-priority recommendations and 12 regular-priority recommendations.
Monday’s meeting was intended for council to review the recommendations, and the overall goal is for the city to develop its zero-emission building retrofit strategy by Spring 2023.
Coun. Alison Gu emphasized just how important the work of the task force has been, calling it “absolutely paramount.”
“Buildings represent over a third of Burnaby’s emissions that we can influence, and the fact that most of our stock is about to be requiring upgrades to heating systems and undergoing that renewal for the first time by 2030 represents the very real opportunity that this is,” she said.
“I also want to highlight that this work is not just about fighting climate change. To me, it’s really also about saving lives. In 2021, we experienced a heat wave that is going to be increasingly frequent.”
She added that retrofit upgrades like heat pumps both heat and cool buildings and can be life-saving for vulnerable residents during extreme weather events.
This item took up most of the meeting, as Coun. Sav Dhaliwal had a long line of questions about the best option for the new pedestrian-cyclist overpass that is proposed to go over Highway 1.
For those who need a quick summary: the city is currently reviewing options for a pedestrian-cyclist overpass over Highway 1, as the stretch between Kensington Avenue and Cariboo Road is currently seen as a physical barrier for pedestrians and cyclists, as it limits access to a network of parks and trails, recreational facilities, and town centres.
The following four options have been proposed for the potential location of the overpass:
Option 1- Claude Avenue: This option proposes the overpass be located across Highway 1 by using existing raised terrain on both sides of the roadway to reduce the need for extensive ramp infrastructure. The overpass would stretch from the existing intersection of Claude Avenue and McArthy Court to the trailhead at Glencarin Drive.
Estimated cost: $16 million
Option 2- Claude Avenue and Wilton Avenue: This proposal places the overpass’ southern landing at the bottom of the hill at Claude and Wilton avenues. The northern landing would be located at Glencarin Drive. This proposed location would require additional ramp infrastructure.
Estimated cost: $19 million
Options 3 (Sperling Avenue, perpendicular crossing) and 4 (Sperling Avenue, oblique crossing): These locations are not being recommended by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure due to potential conflicts with expansion plans for Highway 1, poor geotechnical conditions, and jurisdictional impacts to relocate current BC Hydro Infrastructure.
Estimated cost for 3 and 4: $59 million
The best option: Following the review from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, city staff are recommending council to proceed with the detailed design of Option 1.
“Of the remaining Options 1 and 2, the technical review Indicates that Option 1 offers the greatest benefit with the lowest costs, lower geotechnical risks, and least project footprint and environmental impacts,” noted a staff report.
As mentioned, there was a very long discussion about what option will serve Burnaby best, and most of that discussion was prompted by Dhaliwal, who shared several concerns.
Dhaliwal took issue with the fact that the public engagement sessions for the project did not specifically ask residents which overpass option they would prefer. Couns. Pietro Calendino and James Wang also echoed these concerns and favoured options 3 and 4.
Dhaliwal also questioned if the overpass would see adequate usage if it was going to add to the pedestrian walking time depending on its decided location, and expressed concerns over cost increases.
Couns. Gu, Maita Santiago, and Daniel Tetrault agreed that Option 1 is the best for the city as did Mayor Mike Hurley, who emphasized that the Kengsinton overpass is not the safest option for pedestrians and cyclists to travel across.
“It’s an absolute gem of an opportunity to have connectivity in our city and to have a real cycling spine that we don’t have at present. We need to build that cycling spine so that we can build all of our other connectors off of that,” Hurley said.
“And that’s why Option 1 is really the only option that can be considered. Look at the cost difference, look at how it looks so much better…and it’s an option that’s also very predictable about what the construction costs are going to be, whereas the other three are very unpredictable about what the construction costs are going to be… So I am totally in favour of Option 1 and I think it’s our only choice.”
Recommendation to authorize staff to proceed to the detailed design of Option 1 was moved, with Dhaliwal and Calendino voting against it.
A 53-storey Metrotown tower with separate entrances for those living in its rental and strata units passed its third reading and will go through at least one more review from council before final its final adoption.
As reported by Burnaby Now earlier this week, the Bosa Properties development at 6031 Wilson Ave. is set to replace a 66-unit three-storey rental.
Strata residents can enter the building on Wilson Avenue and renters would access their units via James Street.
Residents will have access to amenities like a gym, pool, hot tub, co-working space, and lounge area, whereas renters will be able to use a multi-purpose amenity room and shared rooftop terrace.
Editor’s note: This article initially stated that the overpass will stretch between Kensington Avenue and Cariboo Road. This language was erroneous and has since been corrected.