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Get to know Burnaby council candidates: Pietro Calendino

“I am running because the work of making Burnaby a more affordable, livable, dynamic, inclusive, and resilient city is not complete.”
PietroCalendino_Council
Coun. Pietro Calendino is running for re-election to Burnaby city council in the upcoming October election.

Burnaby will head to the polls on Oct. 15 and vote for eight city councillors and seven school trustees. Mayor Mike Hurley has been acclaimed for a second term after receiving no challengers. 

The Burnaby NOW asked every candidate running for office in the upcoming civic election to respond to a questionnaire on issues facing Burnaby today.

Candidates were given strict word limits and a deadline to submit their answers. Answers exceeding the word limits are marked. For details on how and where to vote, see our voter’s guide.

Questionnaires have been edited for clarity.

Name: Pietro Calendino

Current occupation: Councillor

Short biography (50 words maximum): I have lived in Burnaby for 49 years. I have a master’s degree in languages and have taught for 35 years. I have served Burnaby residents as a school trustee, MLA and city councillor. The knowledge and experience I have gained give me the tools to be an effective councillor.

Why are you running for city council? (150 words maximum): I am running because the work of making Burnaby a more affordable, livable, dynamic, inclusive, and resilient city is not complete.

Together with my BCA team, I bring strong experience and history, with fresh new perspectives on how to lead our city effectively. As chair of the Task Force on Housing and the planning and development committee, together with the mayor and my BCA colleagues, I have delivered strong policies on housing supply and affordability, tenants’ rent protection, public amenities, transportation and climate change.

Our Tenant Assistance Policy is one of the strongest in Canada and is being copied by other municipalities. The Bainbridge and Lochdale urban centres will create thousands of varied housing units.

I have delivered the planning of three community centres. We are about to start construction at Confederation, Brentwood, Cameron and the unique aquatic centre at Burnaby Lake Complex.

What are the top three issues facing Burnaby today, and what are your plans to address them? (250 words maximum): The first major issue is housing supply and affordability. Many factors contribute to the out-of-reach housing costs which are beyond the city’s control.

I will ensure we preserve the Tenant Assistance Policy and the requirement of at least 20 per cent affordable units in all new developments. I will work to accelerate gentle densification such as laneway houses, duplexes and fourplexes, rowhouses, townhouses and co-op developments so that multi-generations can afford a home in more neighbourhoods. Keeping property taxes among the lowest in Metro will be my main goal.

A second issue is transportation and how we move throughout the city. One of my achievements on council was the development of a transportation plan to address traffic congestion all over the city.

I will work with TransLink to increase public transit in all quadrants and with the city’s engineering department to minimize rat-running in neighbourhoods by installing diversion barriers. I will continue to promote active transportation and increase routes for that.

The third major issue is healthcare. Although healthcare is under provincial jurisdiction, I have personally encouraged the Jim Pattison Foundation to donate a matching $5 million and other donors to contribute $430,000 to the Burnaby Hospital Foundation toward the purchase of equipment.

The sooner the hospital is completed, the better the health services will be for all. Finally, I have supported construction of seniors’ care homes at Seton Villa, Dania Home and Finlandia Home to keep our elders safe and supported in our community.

What is your housing situation? Are you a homeowner, renter or something else (describe)? Do you rent property to others? (50 words maximum): I am a homeowner and have a rental suite on the ground floor.

Burnaby currently has a population of about 250,000 people and is projected to grow to about 360,000 by 2050. How – and where – do you want the city to accommodate that growth? (200 words maximum): As our city continues to grow, I want to continue to build our reputation as a city where people can work, live and play.

Burnaby has a well-established practice of concentrating growth along major transit nodes with higher density in the four town centres. That may not be sufficient in the next couple of decades if growth continues at the current pace.

I would like to develop the other urban villages with low-to-medium density housing scaling down toward the single-family residential streets. During my time as chair of the city’s planning and development committee, we completed the Lochdale and Bainbridge Urban Village Community Plans that will accommodate 6,000 to 8,000 multifamily housing units of different forms.

I will ask staff to initiate public consultation for the Royal Oak, Edmonds, Broadview/Hospital, and Hastings urban villages to accommodate a few more thousand units in the next decade or so.

Finally, I will undertake engagement of the whole city for a new Official Community Plan to explore gentler densification in single family neighbourhoods at similar or compatible heights, including housing forms like laneway houses, fourplexes, sixplexes, rowhouses and townhouses as well low-level co-op housing.

Some organizations are calling on municipal governments to support the creation of non-profit housing by allowing projects to be built without rezoning requirements. (As an example, Women Transforming Cities wants social housing initiatives of up to 12 storeys to be permitted in multi-family areas and up to six storeys in other residential areas, without a rezoning requirement). Is this something you would support – why or why not? (250 words maximum): At this time, municipalities can allow projects without rezoning only if that specific zoning is in the Official Community Plan.

I would gladly support a social housing project of up to 12 storeys to be placed in an accelerated approval process if it is in an area of already-planned or existing multifamily developments, especially if the construction were of mass timber.

Cities do need to explore all innovative ideas to make housing more affordable and available, including exploring our zoning requirements and considering whether they are a barrier to building the kind of housing that is needed.

In 2021, 73 people died in Burnaby due to the heat dome. What are your plans for the city to address increasing heat? (150 words maximum): It was devastating that so many of our Burnaby residents – and other British Columbians – died in 2021 due to extreme heat. Society wasn’t prepared.

I worked with Mayor Hurley and other BCA councillors to implement cooling centres in several locations around the city and supported providing assistance to the Society to End Homelessness to operate their cooling centres.

We did the same in the winter with warming centres when temperatures became extreme. I will continue to support these initiatives in the future.

I will also support lobbying the provincial government to amend the building code to make it a requirement of all multifamily buildings, especially seniors housing, to have air conditioning units at least in common areas.

Is crime a concern for you, and how do you hope to address it? (150 words maximum): The statistics for Burnaby show that serious crime in our city has been on the decline for many years. But I know that many residents are feeling unsafe.

As a councillor I helped push for police bike patrols as a new deterrent and advocate for more walking patrols as well. I support the establishment of a crime prevention unit and a gang enforcement team here in Burnaby.

As a city with commuters on all sides of us I know that solutions will require a made-in-B.C. approach.

I am committed to working with other municipal partners and the province to invest in affordable programs and activities for families and youth in our community centres, libraries, rec facilities and parks so we address the root causes of crime and build stronger, healthier and more resilient communities.

What is the biggest achievement and/or failure of Burnaby council in the last four years? (100 words): Burnaby council’s greatest achievement over the last four years is the development and adoption of the Housing and Homelessness Strategy (HOME).

It will see over 13,000 homes completed, under construction or in the approval process in the next five years.

Requiring a minimum 20 per cent affordable units in all new developments is a game-changer in our housing crisis.

Our Tenant Assistance Policy protects current rents practically for the life of the tenant, something other cities are copying.

I am also proud of council setting bold and achievable climate change emission targets and starting to electrify the city’s fleet. 

How would you spend a leisurely 24 hours in Burnaby? (150 words maximum): There is so much to see and do in Burnaby that it is difficult to have to make choices.

I would start with cappuccino and croissants in any of the cafés on Hastings, then walk to Confederation Park to meet some of the folks there and watch the miniature trains on Penzance.

Next, Deer Lake Park to catch some activity at Shadbolt Centre or the Village Museum.

After lunch somewhere in the Edmonds strip, I would walk in Robert Burnaby Park or Central Park. Then I’d head up to Burnaby Mountain Centennial Park to enjoy the gardens and the Playground of the Gods, while soaking in the view of the mountains and the ocean.

If there was any daytime left, I would venture to Barnet Marine Park to wet my tired feet in Burrard Inlet. Finally, I would be exhausted and ready to crash for a hopefully sound sleep!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell voters? (100 words maximum): First of all, please vote.

Secondly, the BCA has a long history of providing the services you count on, while maintaining among the lowest taxes in the region.

This remains a priority for us, especially in times of economic uncertainty. As Burnaby grows and evolves so does the BCA, and I’m proud that our team brings the combination of experience and new energy that new parties cannot provide.

Our team brings a combination of strong experience and history, with fresh new perspectives on how to lead effectively, so that Burnaby works for everyone who makes it their home.

How can folks contact you? (Website, email, social media handles)

Website: www.burnaby-citizens.ca

Email: pietroc@burnaby-citizens.ca

Facebook: pietro.calendino

Twitter: @burnabypietro

Tel. 604-423-5003

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