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Sustainability a metaphor for Burnaby: Mayor

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
— image credit:

Having swept the last civic election, for the second time in a row, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan could have been excused if he gloated, just a bit.

Instead, his inaugural address Monday night could easily have been a campaign speech for re-election, in which he reminded citizens why Burnaby was named best-run city in Canada by Maclean's magazine in 2009.

Burnaby's investment portfolio is projected to meet its target yield of more than five per cent, to deposit just over $34 million in income into city accounts. Similar returns are projected for 2012, he said, even though market yields are at historic lows.

The city's plans and accomplishments have been developed with a "triple-bottom-line focus," he said. "While we value financial efficiency, as demonstrated by investment portfolio returns and our significant reserves, we never lose sight of the need to balance sometimes disparate social, environmental and economic interests."

With its economic development strategy already completed, the city's social sustainability strategy was finished last spring with significant public input. Implementation on that is underway and work on its environmental strategy is now beginning.

"I see sustainability as a metaphor for Burnaby—a city that is proudly and uniquely diverse, but that operates harmoniously," Corrigan said. "We take disparate interests and find their commonality, enabling us all to work together toward shared goals, achieving new synergies."

New capital projects on the horizon include more mundane but essential infrastructure works that will be more costly in the long run if not done in a timely manner, he said.

Current projects include a $3 million water pumping station in North Burnaby to improve water supply and system reliability for 10,000 residents and provide a backup supply to the Simon Fraser University campus and UniverCity neighbourhood. A new Gilmore sewage pump station will be completed next year to accommodate a growing population in the Brentwood Town Centre area.

And a new environmental centre will start construction in 2012, which will be home to the city's yard waste and recycling facilities, the garbage pickup division and parks operations and maintenance.

The city will be working with TransLink on a major renovation of Metrotown SkyTrain station and the creation of a civic plaza.

Brentwood mall plans to redevelop its property as a "model green community" and recent funding approval for the Evergreen Line will create new opportunities for Lougheed Town Centre.

Burnaby's diversified economic and development base has allowed the city to weather the economic recession well, Corrigan said. "At the height of the recession in 2009, the city still garnered an impressive $422 million in overall building permit values."

In 2010, those permit values jumped to $502 million and so far this year, to the end of November, permit values have already reached $567 million.

"This recovery and grown directly reflects the many actions we take to bolster the strength of our local economy and to ensure that building incentives continue to attract development to Burnaby's vibrant town centres and urban villages."

Civic projects, such as the Tommy Douglas library, Riverway Golf Course clubhouse and Edmonds Community Centre, were all tendered after construction prices dropped, during the economic slowdown, to maximize cost savings, he noted.

A comprehensive update to the city's transportation plan will be started in 2012, and a new bus shelter program will increase city revenues through advertising on the new structures.

As for safety, Burnaby's crime rate is now below the provincial average at 68 Criminal Code offences per 1,000 residents. A new system was installed to give  emergency responder vehicles priority for green lights at intersections. And a new software program now delivers real-time information wirelessly from the fire department's dispatch centre to computers in fire vehicles, and even identifies the closest fire truck to an emergency incident.

As Corrigan said, "The City of Burnaby is determined to remain a shining example of local government at its best."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

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