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New Brentwood community centre several years away

Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal -
Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal
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Any new community centre to serve Brentwood residents is likely at least five years away.

That's according to Burnaby Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the city's parks and rec commission.

The challenge isn't money. There should be ample funds coming from developers in return for being awarded bonus density in their projects. In fact, when all four phases of Appia Development's SOLO District are completed, it will have contributed $32 million in community amenities, including $30 million in cash.

That's in addition to the millions expected to come from Shape Properties' redevelopment of Brentwood mall.

When it comes to a Brentwood community centre, the challenge will be finding a place to put it.

Dhaliwal explained that Burnaby's original longterm plan was to build a large community centre similar to Metrotown's Bonsor at the former site of the Burnaby Heights Resource Centre, next to Eileen Dailly pool.

"But lately over the last four to five years, things have changed considerably in terms of where the population is going to be."

That is, the recent development boom at the intersection of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway now has the city expecting upwards of 40,000 people moving into that area over the next 30 years or so, he said.

Now Confederation Park seems rather far for people to go for their recreation activities. And even the smaller satellite facility—a redevelopment of the existing Willingdon Community Centre—planned for Willingdon Heights park at Gilmore Avenue and Douglas Road seems a too much of a trek.

It would be a quick trip by car, he noted, but likely too far for people to walk as the city is encouraging people to do in an area that's already choked with commuter traffic.

The city is now leaning towards building two smaller facilities, one next to Eileen Dailly pool and the other closer to Brentwood mall.

As for where the latter could go, Dhaliwal said one possibility is on what is currently Dragonwood Industrial Park south of Lougheed.

Concord Pacific Holdings Ltd. has a deal to purchase the 26-acre property on condition it gets rezoning approval. Last year, it proposed a redevelopment for a multi-family project that would include commercial space, a park and a school site.

Other future development sites in the area, such as the Carter GM dealership, could also yield land for a community centre, he said.

The only thing that's sure is a location is up in the air.

"I hope by this fall we'll have a good idea of what's going to be built and where for the next five to 10 years," Dhaliwal said.

But nothing will happen overnight.

The city knew what it was going to build a new Edmonds Community Centre in 2006 but it didn't open until 2013, he noted.

He envisions a facility at 250 Willingdon next to Eileen Dailly pool being built first, perhaps connected to Brentwood via an urban trail up Willingdon. The second centre would come some time after that for reasons of location and budget.

Such community facilities require a lot of staffing, with 50 new staff at Edmonds alone, he said. To avoid massive tax increases to fund their operations, they need to be brought in at least five years apart.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

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