January 4, 2012

What lies ahead for Burnaby in 2012?

If there was a main 2011 civic affairs story in Burnaby, aside from November’s election, it was the fast and furious pace of development in Metrotown and throughout the city’s other town centres.

Changing landscape: Construction is underway at the new Sovereign development, at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Kingsway. The year 2012 is expected to be another bust one for development in Burnaby.

Photograph by: Jason Lang, Burnaby NOW

After a construction slowdown in 2008 due to the recession, building finally picked up again throughout the city last year – residential, commercial, industrial and community projects began to appear (or start again) all over Burnaby.

“Because of Burnaby’s diversified economic and development base, the city has weathered the economic recession well,” Mayor Derek Corrigan said in his speech at the inaugural Burnaby council meeting after the election.

Increased development is again the main story at the start of 2012, with some of last year’s projects continuing and new projects beginning.

“Another exciting recent development also points to Burnaby’s success in weath0ering recent economic conditions and advancement of Metrotown’s commercial office growth,” Corrigan said, in the reference to Metrotown III.

Ivanhoe Cambridge plans to get back to work on Metrotower III this month. The project – which began in 2008 but was suspended due to the economy – is slated for completion in April 2014.

Construction on Bosa Properties’ Sovereign highrise at Willingdon Avenue and Kingsway will continue in 2012, with an estimated completion date in the spring of 2014, as well.

The Beedie Group and Anthem Properties, which owns Station Square, are expected to begin a major redevelopment of the centre as a mixed-use property this year.

And redevelopment in the city’s town centres is expected to expand beyond the perimeters of Metrotown, as well.

“As we look forward to 2012, new plans for the redevelopment of the Brentwood Mall site will establish it as a model green community and an important legacy for future generations,” Corrigan said.

But private projects aren’t the only ones taking place this year.

Construction on the new Edmonds pool and recreation centre continues in 2012, with completion expected next year.

Work on the Evergreen Line is slated to begin this month as well, Corrigan pointed out, which will create opportunities for the Lougheed neighbourhood.

The first part of the project is the installation of underground power lines along the route, to prepare for construction of the tunnel and guideway, according to TransLink. The installation in Port Moody and Coquitlam begins this month and continues until June. The line is expected to be in service by the summer of 2016.

Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard Lee, who has his office across from Brentwood Town Centre, expects to see a lot of construction in his corner of the city.

He thinks it will attract an even more diverse crowd to the area, he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“People are attracted to Burnaby, and the Brentwood area, because of its accessibility,” he said, pointing out that the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge makes it easy to get to North Vancouver, and Lougheed Highway and the transit system make Vancouver and other cities easy to reach, as well.

As the third largest city in the region, Burnaby already is a multicultural community, he said, but he sees that increasing as the city’s developments attract newcomers.

For 2012, Lee plans to continue on his current course, he said.

“I will continue to serve the community,” he said, adding that the coffeehouse he hosts at his office on the last Saturday morning of each month will also continue.

As for the provincial election, Lee said it is still scheduled for May 2013.

Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian is also planning to continue on his current course, working with fellow New Democrat Kennedy Stewart, MP for Burnaby-Douglas, in federal Parliament.

As finance critic, Julian plans to conduct a cross-country tour on fiscal and economic policy in February and March leading up to the March federal budget, he said in a phone interview last week.

“What we’re seeing for middle-class families and poorer families in Canada is that they now have a record debt load,” he said, in regards to some of the financial challenges Canadians are facing this year.

He also pointed out there’s been a reduction in family income in the past year, and manufacturing also declined.

The federal government needs to change direction on its economic policies to address the financial issues Canadians, and the country itself, are facing in 2012, Julian added.

The economy was also a concern for Jeanne Fike, executive director of Burnaby Family Life. Fike, who was on vacation over the holidays, sent an email listing her predictions for the non-profit sector in 2012. She expects to see more cutbacks to the social safety net for vulnerable families and prevention services in the province, she wrote, and increased poverty, homelessness and crime.

This will result in increased costs to communities such as Burnaby, she added.

“The effects of the cuts to non-profit societies in our communities will be gradual and will likely continue to get worse over time if the recession continues,” Fike wrote.

“It will take concerted effort from forward-thinking, progressive leaders representing both private and public sectors to work together to turn things around.”

To address some of these challenges, Burnaby Family Life’s board of directors has invited other volunteer board members at Burnaby’s non-profit societies to participate in a think-tank event this month, titled Planning Our Community’s Future.

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