Burnaby residents who live near the south end of Forest Lawn Cemetery are angry over the construction trucks going in and out of the south gate on pedestrian-heavy roads.
At Monday night's meeting, more than 50 people packed into council chambers for a delegation asking council to enforce its truck routing bylaw for Royal Oak Avenue and Moscrop Street. If the bylaw's enforced, it would mean the trucks would have to use the cemetery's north gate and Canada Way, which is the officially designated truck route closest to the work site.
"You don't mix trucks with kids," said Ron Thompson, a resident near the south gate of the cemetery who delivered the delegation on behalf of his neighbours. "The community itself is a high-pedestrian area by the south gate.
"I see tragedy occurring. It's inevitable."
The cemetery is currently upgrading its grounds with a new mausoleum on the north side of the property, which is in Phase 2 and will take six days a week over two to three months to complete, with 60 total trips a day.
At a recent meeting between city staff and cemetery representatives on Feb. 4, a truck routing agreement was proposed that could allow the construction trucks to use the south gate and avoid any bylaw infractions.
The proposed agreement states the dump trucks must maintain low travel speeds on Moscrop Street, and the trucks will enter the gate on Royal Oak and exit using the gate on Moscrop Street.
"At the conclusion of the meeting, Zulfiqar (Rafiq, of the City of Burnaby) stated that if trucks entered at the midway Royal Oak access and exited at the south Moscrop Street access that they would not be ticketed and that he would share the agreement outlined herein with city bylaw staff," the minutes from the Feb. 4 meeting state.
But more than 50 residents near Royal Oak Avenue and Moscrop Street signed a petition opposing the proposal.
As part of his delegation, Thompson also showed video of construction trucks exiting the south gate with young high school students walking up and down the roads.
Thompson said the trucks should be restricted to entering and exiting using the north gate only, which is closest to the construction site and Canada Way.
"We implore you to look at the northern gate," Thompson said to council Monday night. "Keep the truck traffic at the greatest distance (from our neighbourhood).
"They're making their problem our problem."
Mayor Derek Corrigan said the construction is under provincial government jurisdiction and the city has limited power over the cemetery's activities.
"It's not a plot by city councillors to try and make your lives miserable," Corrigan said to Thompson. "We try and protect your lives."
Council asked staff to look into the issue and propose a way to resolve it.
We'll take the staff's suggestions and reach an equitable solution, Corrigan added.
"We will have a careful second look and hopefully (staff will) come back with a report," he said.
Coun. Volkow echoed Corrigan's point about having limited jurisdiction in this area but said council does have other options.
"We don't have a lot of power," Volkow said. "But the power we do have is to ask staff to take another look, (and) enforcing bylaws is one of the tools we have."
He said it makes sense to him for the trucks to use the north gate only for the cemetery upgrade.
Thompson said he was satisfied with council's reaction.
"I feel the city councillors listened carefully," Thompson told the Burnaby NOW. "It always feels good when a councillor says, 'I didn't realize this was a problem and thanks for bringing it to our attention.'"
But to Thompson, the city does have say over what happens on its streets.
"One of the powers they do have is the truck routing bylaw," he said.
Last year during Phase 1 of the cemetery upgrade a similar issue arose over the trucks using the south gate.
Neighbourhood residents brought it to the city's attention, and the trucks were ticketed and stopped using Moscrop Street or Royal Oak Avenue, according to Thompson.