Burnaby is a large city with a small city feel. According to residents, business owners and social service providers alike, the city has many charms that allow for a strong community.
Strong community feel
Children talking to Captain America at Hats Off Day, Burnaby’s yearly community celebration, on Jun. 3, 2017. Photo by Sean Hagen.
The City of Burnaby is divided into three main areas: Burnaby North, Burnaby South and Burnaby East, with about 30 smaller communities within them.
Because the City of Burnaby is divided into a number of small, tight-knit communities, a warm community vibe is something that has stood out for some residents and business owners.
Antonia Beck, Burnaby resident and Executive Director of Burnaby Neighbourhood House, said, “Although it’s a big metropolitan city, it’s kind of a small town within. It’s got that everybody knows everybody [feel].”
Cindy Martin, Burnaby resident of 32 years, said “It’s a good feeling of community here. I feel safe here, I have most of my life.”
With a population of 232,755, according to 2016 census data, Burnaby is home to approximately 10 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population, while only taking up three per cent of its area.
The City of Burnaby spans 98.6 square kilometres and is the geographical centre of Metro Vancouver. Therefore, it is quite accessible. Three major highways connect Burnaby with neighbouring cities and Burnaby is home to two major cycling routes as well as a network of buses and SkyTrain stations.
Burnaby is within traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations, including the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen Nations.
Rising developments, rising concerns
The rising cost of living is a common concern for people all over Metro Vancouver. For Burnaby, it is a particular concern now due to the large amount of developments going up in the city.
Beck said, “There’s quite a few three-story older buildings where families are living. As they get torn down and towers get built, those families can no longer afford to live in the city.”
“Having said that I know that there is some initiative to rebuild some social housing in the city but I don’t know if they’ll be quick enough for the families that will have to find another place to live.”
“It seems a lot of the smaller businesses are up for lease right now, which is a little bit sad a little bit scary. A lot of rents are going up so that’s going to change the ability of the smaller mom and pop shops like us to be able to afford to be in the area.”
Transportation triumphs and troubles
Transit map with Burnaby’s transit highlighted. (From Daryl’s Dialogue Blog.)
Accessibility in Burnaby has come up as both a concern and a highlight in the community.
Martin said some of the best things about Burnaby are that it’s not very spread out and that the area is quite accessible. “The bridge is right there, the highway is there, you can get downtown very easily. It’s very central,” she said.
Brentwood Town Centre SkyTrain station. (Photo by Marcin Chady.)
However, lengthy construction projects on transportation hubs have been a concern in the community.
Construction has been underway on the Metrotown SkyTrain station for about three years now, sometimes limiting the accessibility of Burnaby’s biggest transportation and shopping hub.
Perfect park space
The City of Burnaby is home to more than 130 parks, with 25 per cent of Burnaby as designated green space.
With an overall mild climate year-round, these green spaces have the ability to thrive.
Eddie Lam, local musician and resident of about 18 years, said the city is ideal for outdoors enthusiasts. “There are various things for families and certain individuals to do, including going to parks,” he said. “Burnaby is exceptionally convenient when it comes to looking for places to shop and dine. Though there’s no night life for entertainment, unlike downtown Vancouver, Burnaby shines in the day time.”
In the news
Burnaby has been in the news for a number of collisions in the last few weeks.
According to a Burnaby Police news release on Jan. 18, five collisions involving a pedestrian or cyclist that Burnaby RCMP Traffic Services responded to happened within two days.
On January 17, a 15-year-old girl died in an accident on Cariboo road, a road that intersects with the Trans-Canada highway.
Another standout issue in Burnaby has been that of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion.
Burnaby is home to the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline mainline. This pipeline is run by Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. It receives crude oil and refined products for temporary storage and distribution.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved an expansion of the pipeline, resulting in a number of protests occurring in Burnaby, along with an opposition to the expansion by the City of Burnaby.