Plan could secure more public riverfront access

A concept plan for the redevelopment of the South Burnaby Norampac paperboard mill site, which closed in December 2011, is being proposed. The plan would increase public access to the Fraser River waterfront, and potentially include a restaurant. - Mario Bartel/NewsLeader
A concept plan for the redevelopment of the South Burnaby Norampac paperboard mill site, which closed in December 2011, is being proposed. The plan would increase public access to the Fraser River waterfront, and potentially include a restaurant.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader

The public could gain more access to Burnaby's Fraser River waterfront if a concept plan for the former Norampac site becomes a reality.

A rezoning application for 8255 and 8360 Wiggins St. and 5279 Riverbend Dr. is for a conceptual development plan for the site of the former paperboard mill which closed in December 2011, according to a city staff report.

The plan, which goes to public hearing May 27, is not for any specific project but sets out guidelines for the phased redevelopment. The concept envisions turning the heavy industrial lands next to the Burnaby incinerator into light industrial and business park projects, plus riverfront amenities.

Included in the concept plan are lands not being rezoned—BC Roofing at 8355 Wiggins St. and Burnco Rock Products at 5324 Riverbend Dr. But the plan provides guidelines for future redevelopment of those properties as well.

While the concept plan encompasses a 45 hectare (111 acre) area, only the 26-hectare (65-acre) former Norampac site, now owned by Oxford Properties, is being considered for rezoning at this time.

The proposal is for a mix of business centre, offices, light industrial and warehouses as well as more intensive manufacturing uses.

River-dependent industrial uses that would ship and receive products by barge and manufacturing related to boating and shipping have also been accommodated.

But for the general public, the most interesting aspect would be the creation of a new trail along the riverfront that would connect with Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park to the west.

Proposed amenities include a pier as a lookout and a 5,000-square-foot riverfront restaurant to serve both workers in the area and recreational users of the trail and Foreshore park.










MAP: The grey area to the left is the wooded area at the end of Fraser Foreshore Park. At top left, the number 1 indicates the Metro Vancouver waste-to-energy facility. Parcels 2, 4 and 6 were the site of the former Norampac paper mill. The Fraser River is at the bottom and at right. Courtesy City of Burnaby

New urban trails would be built along the north side of Riverbend Drive, along Wiggins Street and the former Wheaton Street right-of-way to connect the industrial park with the riverfront trail.

The developer and Metro Vancouver are currently looking into the feasibility of using excess heat from the incinerator for heating the industrial park and in industrial processes, the report said.

While heavy industrial land uses are allowed to remain, as land values rise, such businesses will inevitably end up moving where property is cheaper, said Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of Burnaby's community development committee. Such development plans for the Big Bend area take that fact into account.

Jordan was pleased to see the plan creates more public access to the waterfront. She expects to hear more in future about how the new riverfront trail will connect to Foreshore park through the city-owned forested area that sits in between.

It doesn't appear to include a place where boats can be launched, something that's not possible in Burnaby now, she said. "People are always talking to us about that."

But she was glad to see the potential is there for businesses to use barges on the river as a transportation mode, instead of more train or truck traffic.

"I think that's a real positive thing because we don't make use of our waterways as much as they do in Europe and other places."

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