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Finance, environment and growth highlights of mayor’s annual speech

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
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When it comes to the finances at Burnaby city hall, there's little argument that they're strong seeing as how its investment portfolio is on track to earn $38 million for 2013, a 4.62 per cent annual yield, far higher than Joe Average is earning these days.

Those earnings are expected to continue next year as well, said Mayor Derek Corrigan in his inaugural address Monday. Although the annual return is only expected to be 4.5 per cent.

Over the past decade, the steady investment income has helped offset increases in the city's operating budget and provided funding for capital projects, Corrigan said.

The speech led with a focus on Burnaby's green initiatives, from work on an environmental sustainability strategy, and opening of its Eco-Centre recycling facility to its energy management program.

In 2013, electrical and lighting improvements are expected to cut power consumption by 437,000 kWh, higher efficiency boilers at city swimming pools are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 104 tonnes. And the federal government-funded installation of rooftop solar panels at Bonsor Recreation Complex, is projected to save $14,000 a year in water heating costs.

Meanwhile, Burnaby continues to work towards meeting its share of population growth in the region at a rate of about two per cent a year since 1981, he said. That year, the city had 52,601 housing units, a figure that grew to 86,839 in 2011 and is expected to rise to 117,000 by 2021, most of it the four town centres of Lougheed, Metrotown, Edmonds and Brentwood.

Major developments are already underway or in the approval process in all four areas including the redevelopment of Lougheed mall, which will begin public consultations in the spring, and the Value Village site on Edmonds Street, which will be presented to the community for input in early 2014.

That all means revenue and an increased tax base for the city. In 2012, the estimated construction value of all the residential development in Burnaby totalled about $318 million. To date, that's already at about $600 million.

Such development also allows infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks, water and sewer lines to get built, and new park land and school sites to be acquired through development cost charges.

Awarding bonus density has also resulted in a list of amenities that include the new Bonsor seniors centre that opened in September, the art walk proposed for Beresford Street, and city-owned offices for non-profit groups.

And over at the Burnaby RCMP detachment, it is continuing its crime reduction strategy—targeting prolific offenders responsible for the majority of crimes—to great effect. Property crime was down by 10 per cent in Burnaby compared to 2012, when the Lower Mainland as a whole only saw a reduction of one per cent.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

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