Burnaby City Hall. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

Private agreement may block nearly 150 childcare spaces in Metrotown

An easement agreement between Metro Vancouver, the Metrotowers, and Metropolis at Metrotown prohibits childcare facilities in the towers.

By Dustin Godfrey | April 28, 2022 |5:00 am

A Metrotown proposal for nearly 150 childcare spaces could be halted due to an easement agreement between Metro Vancouver, Metropolis, and the Metrotowers.

Burnaby Beacon first reported on the Metrotower 2 childcare proposal late last month, as the project came before council for approval to go ahead with a public hearing.

Council did approve the public hearing, and nobody turned out to the hearing on Tuesday this week to oppose it.

However, there was one written submission from a staff member of the Metro Vancouver Regional District.

Renato Jadrijev, manager of real estate services for Metro Vancouver, said the regional district was notified of the rezoning application, and noted that there is a “reciprocal operating and easement agreement” in place at the property.

“The easement unfortunately specifically prohibits childcare facilities,” Jadrijev said. “The application unfortunately cannot go forward, as this would be a breach of the existing easement.”

Attached to his email was a section of the easement agreement on prohibited uses within the office tower. Along with childcare, the easement bars theatres, liquor-serving venues, flea markets, drycleaning or laundromats, storage, or a massage parlour.

Mike Ducey, manager of corporate facilities at Metro, said in an email included in the package for the zoning amendment, that the regional district was waiting to hear back from Ivanhoe Cambridge, the developers who own Metropolis, on the matter.

“While we have some concern, our primary objection at the moment is the unilateral attempt to change the agreement without consultation,” Ducey wrote.

In an emailed statement to the Beacon, Metro Vancouver director of real estate services Robert Kates said the regional district has “not yet received sufficient details regarding the facility, its ancillary areas or requirements.”

“Once those details have been received and analyzed, and discussions are held with the other parties to the reciprocal operating and easement agreement, we will be better able to determine how to proceed,” Kates said.

Coun Colleen Jordan asked about the objections in this week’s public hearing.

Ed Kozak, general manager of planning and building at the City of Burnaby, said the easement does not fetter council from rezoning the property to allow a childcare facility.

“They will be required to address that private easement prior to them being able to, obviously, open the childcare facility,” Kozak said.

He said he didn’t believe the staffers were speaking on behalf of Metro but that they were “doing their due diligence.”

“I understand they were trying to get some clarification from their own organization prior to submitting. But obviously running out of time, they had to get something to [city] staff,” Kozak said.

“It’s a legal complication that the two parties will have to work out.”

Council directed city staff to report back on developments in the matter.

If it is ultimately approved, and the easement is changed, the proposal would include up to 147 childcare spaces in Metrotower 2, but Fraser Health would have final say over the capacity. The intention is to provide childcare for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children, city staff noted in a report to council.

Located on the fifth floor of the building, the facility would also have access to an outdoor deck, which would be converted into a play space.

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Dustin Godfrey

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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