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Burnaby council debates FIFA World Cup 2026 participation

Plus: Council approves the demolition of the Louis and Annie Hill cottage, and discusses ideas for preserving its memory

This week’s city council meeting was a little longer than usual, but for good reason. Council discussed a range subjects, including infrastructure projects, public art, and the FIFA World Cup. 

Holdom Overpass public engagement starts in August

The meeting began with a presentation by two representatives of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority: Charlotte Olson, director of infrastructure delivery, and Jennifer Johnston, manager of infrastructure delivery. Olson introduced the Holdom Overpass project and its expected benefits. 

“We know more delays are coming as Canada’s trade is expected to increase. We’re anticipating more frequent and longer trains moving through Burnaby. We also see that Burnaby’s population is growing in this area, particularly Brentwood. More people are moving through and in and around this area. This is why the overpass is so important, so that road, rail, and active transportation users have their own safe and reliable spaces to move,” Olson said. 

She added that the overpass’s benefits include improved safety, better community access, reliable travel times, emergency response, and protection for cyclists and pedestrians. The project is expected to help reduce emissions by providing active transport connections.

Holdom Overpass rendering. Photo: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Johnston said the project design will separate cyclists, pedestrians, and people using mobility aids. To provide safer connections to the Holdom SkyTrain station, activated lights will be at both intersections. 

In a previous round of community engagement, the authority heard from community members that overpass users will need enhanced safety features, and Johnston added that the current design reflects this objective. Other design features include dedicated space on all sides for people who are walking or rolling, who will be protected by a hard barrier from the road traffic, and improved lighting. 

“In keeping with the port authority and the city’s commitments to reconciliation, we have worked closely with the interested First Nations to identify spaces that could be used for cultural recognition,” Johnston said, adding that this will include paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces that will be on display. 

For community members hoping to have their say, a new round of public engagement will begin in August. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

“We are pleased to announce the third and final phase of public engagement will take place from August 12 to September 2. We will be sharing the overpass concept design and how community feedback has been considered in shaping the Holdom Overpass. We also want to hear from the community how they want to be communicated to during the construction that is about to start,” Johnston said. 

FIFA sparks debate in council 

The FIFA World Cup will come to Vancouver in the summer of 2026, and Burnaby is considering how to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Staff members presented ideas for this participation at the Parks Recreation and Culture Committee’s (PRCC) meeting on June 11.

On July 8, Emmaline Hill, director of cultural services, and Judy Hamanishi, director of recreation presented their recommendations to council, along with a cost estimate. 

The cost sparked a heated discussion during the council meeting. Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, who chairs the PRCC and its meetings, actually opposed the recommendations during the council meeting despite having positive comments during the PRCC meeting in June. 

Dhaliwal said that even though Burnaby may benefit from participating in this event, the estimated cost of $450,000 mentioned in the report is too high, considering that soccer is a minor sport in Burnaby. 

“I think the recommendations need to be changed somewhat based on what we hear tonight, to go back and rethink and see what comes back,” Dhaliwal said. 

Coun. Daniel Tetrault agreed with Dhaliwal about the cost and said one or two viewing events would be enough for the city. 

Swangard Stadium, Central Park, Burnaby. Photo: City of Burnaby

Other council members, however, disagreed. Coun. Maita Santiago said that holding FIFA events would be important for the city’s diverse communities, for whom soccer is an important sport. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us as a city to build on this and to use it to create a stronger sense of community within residents regardless of what country they’re cheering for,” Santiago said. 

Coun. James Wang also spoke in favour of Burnaby’s FIFA participation saying that diverse communities in Burnaby love this sport. Since Burnaby is home to soccer legend Christine Sinclair, it is a popular sport among young people. Wang suggested combining viewing parties with some of the city’s existing events, such as the Canada Day StreetFest. 

Councillors Pietro Calendino and Richard Lee agreed with Wang regarding the importance of the World Cup to Burnaby. 

Lee suggested working with the Burnaby Board of Trade and Tourism Burnaby to promote the city during the World Cup. Calendino, for his part, suggested setting up viewing screens in community centres and bringing international teams to practise on the natural pitch in Swangard Stadium. 

In the end, the motion passed with only Dhaliwal opposed to it. Staff said that they are already working on obtaining partnerships and are having talks with teams to practise in Burnaby.

$7,000 in funding for a new mural

During the meeting, council approved $7,000 in funding for a new mural by artist Paige Jung at 4568 Kingsway. 

According to the report submitted to council, “Paige Jung is a Chinese Canadian illustrator, muralist and artist who uses digital, gouache, watercolour and acrylic mediums. Paige is known for her proficient use of colour and gestural shapes to create illustrations that tell stories of connection, wonder, community, and what makes us human.”

Artist Paige Jung’s mural’s concept art. Photo: City of Burnaby

The grant will be through the city’s Community Safety Department’s Mural Grant Program.

“I really appreciate this mural project coming forward. I had a look at the design, and I think, as with the previous murals that I’ve seen come forward, that it is doing a great job with respect to reflecting the diversity that’s in Burnaby,” Santiago said.  

Santiago also suggested that the city create a database of all the mural projects it has supported so that residents can find the murals’ locations and see them in person. 

Council discusses the Louis and Annie Hill cottage

On June 13, the city’s heritage commission discussed the demolition of the Louis and Annie Hill cottage and the addition of the land to Deer Lake Park. 

“As staff I think we want to and are obligated to always think about when we’re looking at something like that what the value is for the citizens whose money we’re spending and we didn’t feel like in this case that that value proposition was here for that property. The cost is very high for the space you can achieve,” Lisa Codd, heritage planner with the city, told the Beacon. 

A recent photo of the Louis and Annie Hill cottage. Photo: City of Burnaby

During the council meeting on July 8, councillors discussed ways of preserving as much of the building as possible, even if it will ultimately be demolished. Tetrault spoke about possibly preserving any artifacts or parts of the building and adding them to the Burnaby Village Museum. 

Mayor Mike Hurley said that anything of value to the host nation, the Tsleil Waututh, should be preserved. 

Lee suggested that if the building is not preserved in person, the city could preserve it digitally by creating a 3D scan or video allowing people to take a virtual tour of the cottage. If the city decides to go with this suggestion, the building may still be torn down, but at least its memory will endure for future generations.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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