Draft Southgate concept gets positive reviews from council

A draft display board of the conceptual site plan for the proposed 48-acre Southgate development on the former Safeway distribution centre site in South Burnaby. - Contributed
A draft display board of the conceptual site plan for the proposed 48-acre Southgate development on the former Safeway distribution centre site in South Burnaby.
— image credit: Contributed

The draft concept plan for the proposed Southgate development in South Burnaby garnered positive reviews from city council Monday.

Mayor Derek Corrigan said developer Ledingham McAllister had been through a planning process with city staff and council that was "arduous to say the least."

The resulting draft concept plan is "something I feel proud to take out to the community," Corrigan said. "I think everybody's property value is going to increase by this."

The 48-acre property is located on the former Safeway distribution centre and dairy plant site between 15th and 18th streets and 11th and 14th avenues.

It also includes two city-owned properties, 7701 and 7679 18th St., to create an east-west connection to the City in the Park neighbourhood and the Edmonds SkyTrain station, says a city staff report.

A north-south connection to the Highgate shopping area on Kingsway is proposed to come via 16th Street and through a BC Housing property at 7121 14th Ave.

It proposes several different forms of housing, including up to 20 towers ranging in height from 19 to 46 storeys.

At its heart will be a five-acre park. Coun. Colleen Jordan noted that the park will be owned and operated by city hall for all Burnaby residents, not just those who live in the new development.

The earlier preliminary concept called for a large rectangular lake in the park, Jordan noted in an interview. But that has since been changed to a smaller lake connected to a meandering stream that provides more usable green space.

The park will include a 16th Street Plaza featuring a water feature or spray park, pavilions for shelter and shade, and areas for bocce, chess and other court games, according to draft panel displays for a planned open house in June.

It will also feature an adventure play area with a stream, climbing hill and "winding pathways through natural tree groves."

Other public spaces include connections to Ernie Winch Park, a 17th Street Park with an adventure playground, water feature and "urban agriculture."

Gateway House, on the west end of the site at 18th Street, and roughly 13th Avenue (to be dubbed Southgate Boulevard in the development), would be a facility that could be used for childcare, community space, a café and recreational uses.

Shops and services would be on street level along 16th Street and Southgate Crescent. The north end of 16th Street would feature local businesses, restaurants and a grocery store while the south end would offer flexible live/work spaces.

The project is expected to take 15 to 20 years to complete, with several buildings completed each year. The draft display panels suggest there could be 23 phases to the project, starting with The Gateway located at Griffiths Drive and Southgate Boulevard which includes the eastern access for the Millennium Bridge pedestrian overpass. A dog park and community garden is also proposed for that phase.

Coun. Pietro Calendino noted the skyscrapers are "modest" compared to what is being proposed for other areas of the city. For instance, Brentwood mall could have towers as tall as 70 storeys.

Southgate is also proposed to have rental as well as affordable and non-market housing, the latter if senior governments come to the table with funding assistance, Calendino said.

He credited city staff with steering the developer toward a direction that "council would like to see and the community is more likely to accept."

Coun. Dan Johnston called it a "holistic vision for the Edmonds community." The concept includes plans to daylight a creek, increase park space and be pedestrian and bicycle friendly, he noted.

"It's a real improvement for this forgotten corner of the city."

Council endorsed the concept plan, allowing it go to the next stage of public consultation, an open house planned for June.

The property closed as a distribution centre for Canada Safeway when the operation was moved to Langley in 2011. The site was purchased by developer Ledingham McAllister in December 2011.

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