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Mayor talks State of the City

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
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For Burnaby city hall, partnering with senior governments can be a double-edged sword that it needs to scrutinize closely.

Mayor Derek Corrigan made the point in his annual State of the City address at a Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon at the Delta Burnaby Hotel Wednesday.

Corrigan said that many initiatives, such as with non-market housing and health care, require cooperation from senior governments.

In the past year, Burnaby has partnered with Fraser Health and Burnaby school district to improve community health and help prevent chronic diseases. And it launched a program with the province and United Way to provide help with housekeeping and transportation to seniors in need.

"But as we partner on initiatives such as these, we remain vigilant, recognizing it's critical for the longterm viability of our city that the federal and provincial governments don't view our willingness to participate in such initiatives as an opportunity to download the tax burden onto property owners," Corrigan said.

"It's a challenging balance to strike and one that we consider at every turn."

Meanwhile, the city remains financially strong. Its investment portfolio providing a 4.64 per cent return in 2013, and $38.3 million in income, the highest-ever amount it's earned in a single year.

On the environmental front, the past year has seen an updating of the city's tree bylaw to strengthen protection of trees. City facilities saw upgrades to electrical, boiler and lighting systems to save energy and money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And because John Matthews Creek in South Burnaby was seeing severe erosion, creating a hazard, restoration of the ravine was fast-tracked. The work included planting 2,500 native trees and shrubs and returning it close to its pre-development condition.

"Because of this work, I'm pleased to say that it is now possible that fish will return to this section of the creek."

The past year saw the city start a program to legalize secondary suites as a source of affordable rental housing. Its adaptable housing policy was updated to require minimum levels of adaptable units, for people with disabilities or physical challenges, in multi-family projects.

Corrigan also cited the density bonus program as a Burnaby success story. In exchange for allowing added density, developers provide for community amenities. Already the program has generated more than $100 million in such contributions.

The "clear, predictable system" available to developers has become a model for other cities, he said.

As for ongoing development in Burnaby, the Station Square project will "fundamentally re-shape the Metrotown area in the best possible way."

And major redevelopments in Brentwood "will see Lougheed change from being a 'highway' to being the 'main street' of this new urban centre—with street trees, separated bike facilities and rain gardens," he said. It will be similar to that already seen on Lougheed between Madison and Rosser.

Public consultations started in Feburary on the future redevelopment of Lougheed Mall and will begin soon for the former Safeway distribution centre site in the Edmonds area.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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