Burnaby artist celebrated during council meeting

Plus, more cherry blossoms, Burnaby Mountain bike skills course upgrades, and more

Cherry blossoms at Burnaby Central Park. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

It’s officially spring, though you wouldn’t know it by the gloomy, grey, rainy weather. Fortunately, Burnaby’s streets are currently peppered with cherry blossom trees in full bloom, brightening up the early spring gloom with their pale pink flowers, heralding better weather to come. 

If you enjoy the annual spring display of cherry blossoms, you’ll be happy to know that on Monday, Mar. 25, Burnaby City Council approved Nikkei Place’s proposal to plant almost 100 cherry blossom trees and Japanese maples. Burnaby businessman and philanthropist Ken Shinozaki will fund the trees, while the city will be in charge of maintenance. The new trees will be planted along Highland Park Line Trail near Nikkei Place in the fall. If all goes well, the trees will be blooming by the spring of 2025. 

Keiko Funahashi, executive director of Nikkei Place Foundation, said that after consulting with BC Hydro and FortisBC, they identified that one line of trees could be planted on the south side of the trail. Funahashi said cherry blossom trees and Japanese maples “represent both Japan and Canada and the cultural diversity of Burnaby.” 

Besides the aesthetic appeal of the trees, Funahashi said, “These culturally significant trees will enhance events in Burnaby. Our annual cherry blossom event at the Nikkei Cultural Centre has been bringing in 3,000+ attendees. It could become a major Burnaby cherry blossom festival.”

While most councillors approved the initiative during the meeting, others were hesitant to do so, such as Coun. Alison Gu, who said, “Anyone who knows me knows that I love trees.” She added, “I think my one concern is just around the species of trees.” Gu added that the city is currently working on a forestry plan, and while Japanese maples may be suitable for the local climate, cherry trees may not be the most suitable trees.  

Coun. Maita Santiago said cherry blossoms are beautiful, “we also want to see that the trees that we do have are sustainable in the long run so that they’re with us for generations.”

Ultimately, council approved the new trees and Burnaby can look forward to even more bright pink flowers next spring. 

Not all councillors approve of the new liquor and cannabis policy

BC Liquor Store in Burnaby. Photo: Shutterstock

The new Burnaby liquor and cannabis policy was discussed again during Monday’s meeting. Coun. Richard Lee, who was opposed to any increase in the number of cannabis stores in the city, expressed some disapproval. 

During the meeting, Coun. Lee said, “I think in Burnaby, actually, we have enough cannabis stores. I would not support any increase in licences for cannabis stores.” 

Lee also wanted to add an amendment to the motion, saying that the maximum number of new cannabis stores approved would be zero. However, no other councillors seconded the amendment and it was not approved. 

Gu did add an amendment, which was approved by council, to direct staff to look into the possibility of getting would-be cannabis store owners to pay an annual business licence fee. Gu’s rationale was that this is a recreational product, making this a good opportunity for the city, as other cities have done, to make some extra income. Gu gave the example of the City of Vancouver charging $35,000 as an annual fee per cannabis store.

“This is a very meaningful source of revenue that offsets property taxes and allows the city to do more without charging residents. And I think it’s fair, considering that this is a recreational substance,” Gu said. 

Burnaby Mountain Air Bike Skills Course upgrades 

During Monday’s meeting, council also approved planned improvements to the Burnaby Mountain Bike Skills Course (BMBSC). According to a report submitted to council, the course, which has been around since 2008, is at the end of its life and needs renewal to meet increased use and demand. 

Whether you are a total novice or want to brush up on your mountain biking skills, you can look forward to a new and improved course where you can learn those skills in a relatively safe and controlled environment. 

“Looks exciting, looks like it could be painful too,” said Mayor Mike Hurley. 

Several councillors pointed out the need for better safety measures at the course. Lee, for example, questioned whether there was any first aid equipment available at the site, to which staff replied that there was none. Coun. Gu and Tetrault pointed out that some safety measures are needed for people biking to and from the course, especially older children and teens. 

The bike skills course is connected to the Barnet Marine cycling path, “I am concerned around the safety of that Barnet Marine Parkway for cycling users, even as somebody who cycles a lot, I don’t feel very comfortable riding on that shoulder where cars are traveling 70-80 kilometres per hour,” Gu said.

Artist Karissa Narukami recognized in council

Burnaby Artist Karissa Narukami poses for a group photo with Burnaby City Council members. Photo: City of Burnaby

During the meeting, Burnaby artist Karissa Narukami was also honoured for her work and cultural contributions. Narukami, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, also teaches free art classes through her autism foundation. 

“Most recently, her work was also selected for inclusion in the Lunar Codex Polaris Collection, which means that her art will be preserved among the Stars in a Time Capsule bound for the moon,” Coun. Santiago said. 

Narukami is a Filipino-Canadian artist who was born in Burnaby and graduated from Burnaby South Secondary School. Narukami’s work is characterized by highly detailed botanical, animal, and human paintings. Her work is currently being exhibited at Art Vancouver 2024

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Like what you just read? Do you support local journalism? Help us keep going—and growing.

Sign up for our once a week newsletter, or become an Insider to show your love for local reporters and writers.