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'Ridiculous': 14 levels of underground parking in proposed 80-storey Burnaby tower draw concerns

As Burnaby approves taller and taller condo towers, the parking gets deeper and deeper. “It’ll take 10 minutes just for somebody to park their car,” said a city councillor.

A giant Burnaby tower project in Lougheed with 14 levels of underground parking, almost 50 metres deep, raised eyebrows at city council this week.

“It just seems ridiculous to have this much parking,” Coun. Alison Gu said on June 5 at third reading of the two-tower Pinnacle International development at 9850 Austin Rd. and 9859/9898 Gatineau Place.

The project, steps away from Lougheed SkyTrain station, includes 1,612 vehicle parking spots for residents and more than a thousand more for commercial, car share and car wash stalls.

“I don’t think that’s realistic for anybody to be driving; it’s right across from the SkyTrain … It’ll take 10 minutes just for somebody to park their car,” Gu said, asking if staff could adjust the amount of parking.

Ed Kozak, the city’s general manager of planning and development, said staff would be reporting to council “very shortly” on the matter, as they are already working on a parking analysis for the project.

He said the development plan permits a maximum for parking, but building less parking would “be within the realm of what can be done (after third reading).”

But it's not the first time parking at a major development has sparked councillor criticism.

Reducing required parking

In the last two weeks, councillors have repeatedly asked staff to bring a policy forward reducing the required minimum amount of parking.

Gu also noted that a proposed Metrotown development with 1,250 vehicle parking stalls exceeds the city’s minimum parking requirements.

She said the two-tower project at 6645 to 6707 Dow Avenue is a five-minute walk away from the Metrotown SkyTrain station.

She asked if there will be an updated policy for developments close to rapid transit that will allow the city to establish parking maximums and consider “more realistic” minimum requirements.

“I look at the parking stalls in my apartment building, and there’s a ton that are empty, a ton of visitor parking that sits empty, all day all night. And it seems like a waste to be building this, and it gets passed down to the consumer or the individual who lives there at the end of the day.”

Mayor Mike Hurley agreed.

“I think our parking requirements are way too great,” the mayor said, adding “Hopefully, we’re going to bring something forward really quickly that will allow us to move away from sometimes a ridiculous amount of parking that I think we’re putting in.”

Jozsef Dioszeghy, general manager of engineering, said a study to reduce parking requirements is currently underway. He anticipated his staff could come up with recommendations “within the next couple of months.”

“There’s a certain procedure we have to follow in changing some of the regulations. So we are looking at several months,” Dioszeghy added.

But the mayor asked for the policy to come sooner.

“We have been asking for this for a long time,” Hurley said.

Coun. Pietro Calendino insisted reducing the parking requirement won’t “make people get rid of their cars and walk or cycle,” and added it would take a generation for the change to happen.

“I think they will continue to have cars, perhaps electric cars rather than fossil fuel cars,” he said. “They would still require parking spots somewhere, and we don’t have that many parking spots on the streets. So if we don’t allow them to park under the ground in their residences, where will these people put their cars?”

The conversation at council came a week after a public hearing for a Brentwood development with 1,466 parking spots, a six-minute walk from Gilmore SkyTrain station.

“It’s hard to keep on approving these projects with an outdated, unmodernized framework that doesn’t take into account futureproofing these developments that are going to be in place 50 years from now,” Gu said.

The two-tower Lougheed project at 80 storeys (259.1 metres/850 feet) would be the tallest building in Western Canada, with a tower next door at 73 storeys (238.5 m/782 ft). It includes plans to build 1,466 strata condos total. It passed third reading unanimously.

📢 SOUND OFF: Should Burnaby reduce its minimum parking requirements and create parking maximums near rapid transit? What do you think about the parking situation in the city? Share your thoughts — send us a letter.