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City explores district energy systems for new developments

Plus: 45% of parking stalls to be electric-vehicle ready, and six Burnaby Environmental Awards recipients to be celebrated at the next council meeting

Burnaby City Council’s Monday, June 10 meeting started with updates from Burnaby Public Library (BPL) and BC Housing. 

The first presentation by BPL board co-chairs Mandy Yang and Sarah Bartnik, and chief librarian Beth Davies provided the council with the library’s progress in 2023. It was definitely a busy year for the city’s libraries. In 2023, BPL completed the renovation of the Bob Prittie Metrotown location and reopened it to the public. 

The new library features ungendered washrooms, which were the subject of some controversy among city residents who wrote to council complaining about them. Other features include new community rooms, a digital studio where library users can use the equipment free of charge to edit videos or create podcasts, and additional seating. 

Temporary Cameron Library in Lougheed Mall has been unexpectedly popular since opening. Photo: Burnaby Public Library

Earlier this year, the Cameron Library moved to a new temporary location, which has seen many new people accessing library services for the first time. According to Davies, the temporary location at Lougheed Mall has seen one-third more people accessing the library than those who accessed it when it was located at Cameron Park. Plus, BPL created a brand-new master plan for 2024-2027.

The second delegation was from BC Housing, which provided updates on affordable housing initiatives in Burnaby and the rest of the province. John McEown, BC Housing associate vice president of development strategies, spoke first about the province’s community housing fund. This $3.3 billion investment aims to provide 20,000 new affordable homes in the province. According to McEown, 12,500 new homes are underway or open, with 200 new units allocated to the City of Burnaby. 

McEown and Michael Pistrin, BC Housing vice president of development and asset strategies, also spoke about the supportive housing, women’s transitional housing, and Indigenous housing funds, adding that 3,000 units are currently underway in Burnaby, not including the 200 new units allocated under the community housing fund. 

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, who chaired the meeting as acting mayor, commented on the presentation. 

“Often when you pick up a newspaper, listen to any newscasts or something, local governments are considered to be the ones that are dragging on building homes. That’s not true,” Dhaliwal said. “A lot of local governments have already been doing their best to support building homes. We need to have the other two orders of government jump in a little quicker to make more affordable homes. We do have condos and homes being built, but they’re not all affordable. This is where the province and federal government come in.”

45% of street parking stalls to be EV-ready

An electric vehicle charging in a parking lot in Burnaby. Photo: Shutterstock

During the meeting, council also discussed a new proposed bylaw that would make off-street vehicle parking in new non-residential developments much more friendly towards electric vehicle (EV) owners. According to a council report, 45% of parking stalls will become EV-ready. The report also mentioned that all accessible parking spaces will be EV-ready, as well as all shared vehicle spaces. 

Coun. Joe Keithley expressed his support for the new bylaw. 

“Back in October 2022, I put forth a motion that all new non-residential developments include a substantial number of parking spots that are EV-ready. These recommendations make that become a reality in the future,” Keithley said. “This will be another step, another positive step in our collective and urgent battle against climate change, so I strongly support these recommendations.”

Burnaby Environmental Awards recipients to be celebrated in council

This month, six nominees from Burnaby are invited to receive their Burnaby Environmental Awards at council’s meeting on June 24, 2024. The names of the 2024 Burnaby Environmental Awards nominees were announced during Burnaby Council’s June 10 meeting.

  • The von Euw Family in the Community Stewardship category;

  • Irene Lau in the Community Stewardship category;

  • Laurel Dykstra in the Community Stewardship category; 

  • Nikki Gill in the Community Stewardship category;

  • Burnaby For Our Kids in the Community Stewardship category;

  • Clay Construction in the Planning and Development category.

City explores district energy utility systems for all new developments

BC Hydro building in Vancouver. Photo: Shutterstock

During the meeting, Coun. Alison Gu put forth a motion to propose that city staff explore the feasibility of all new developments having district energy systems in areas where district energy utility connection is not mandatory, particularly in master-planned communities. 

“It’s an exploratory motion, and we have to confirm that the density bonus framework would allow us to do this kind of exchange and that it would be in line with all our other bylaws,” Gu said. 

The motion sparked some discussion among city councillors. Coun. Richard Lee said while he believes the idea is excellent, he would like staff to explore whether this type of connectivity might increase housing prices. Lee said developers may pass on the installation cost to the buyers, who may, in turn, pass the cost onto renters. 

Coun. Pietro Calendino said the proposal would be far more economical than BC Hydro providing heating and cooling for individual homes. He added that this system would provide heating and cooling on a much larger scale, and the city should encourage developers to adopt it.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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