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Bublé’s wall strikes sour note with neighbours

While he may sing about wanting to go home, some neighbours living near crooner Michael Bublé’s new mansion under construction in Burnaby aren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat.
A view of Michael Bublé’s home under construction on Government Road in Burnaby. The project is raising some concerns with neighbours.

While he may sing about wanting to go home, some neighbours living near crooner Michael Bublé’s new mansion under construction in Burnaby aren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat.

Several residents living on Government Road have reached out to the NOW in recent days complaining about the new home, specifically an eight-foot-tall concrete fence at the front of the property.

One resident living near the property at 7868 Government Rd., who wrote to the NOW but did not want to be identified, said she was surprised the city approved the fence.

“It already looks so out of keeping with the neighbourhood that it’s hard to believe the city has allowed it, let alone a concrete bunker to surround it,” she wrote. “We can only hope it will be covered with trees and vines.”

A rezoning application from March 2015 for the property, which is directly across from Seaforth Elementary, shows the successful singer is planning to build a 27,000-square-foot home that includes two cellar levels, a 6,000-square-foot patio, tennis court and swimming pool. 

Despite the complaints from nearby residents, it appears all the work is above board.

According to City of Burnaby records, the city’s board of variance approved a number of zoning changes for the property at an open meeting on July 9, 2015.

Specifically, part of the application was asking for a variance to build an eight-foot tall fence instead of the maximum three feet allowed by the city.  

Planning department comments attached to the minutes of the meeting note the proposed fencing exceeds the maximum fence heights permitted by bylaw, but “this higher fence is required, however, for security purposes and will be obscured by hedges along its exterior faces.”

While the board of variance approved the application, it wasn’t a unanimous decision. The chair of the board, Charlene Richter, voted against the application for a higher fence. The NOW reached out to Richter for comment through the city but had not heard back before to press deadline. 

On Monday, theNOW spoke to other residents in the neighbourhood to gage their reaction to Bublé’s home.

A resident named Steve, who was walking his dog in front of the property, said he didn’t have a huge issue with the monster home but questioned whether Bublé’s celebrity status helped get the permits to build it.

“It’s a little ridiculous,” he said pointing out the size of the home. “He’s famous, he can do what he wants.”

Another woman living one street east of the property but in earshot of the construction said the walls don’t match the neighbourhood.

“I’m concerned what it’s going to look like,” she told the NOW, adding there’s plenty of talk and questions in the neighbourhood about the home. 

But not everyone is up in arms over Bublé’s future abode.

A longtime resident and direct neighbour named Theresa said the project manager has spoken with her many times about construction and advised her of the plans in advance. She was even given a video of Bublé himself saying hi to his new neighbours.

“He needs privacy,” she said, adding people involved in the project have been “very nice.”  

City officials noted residents within a 30-metre radius were given notification about the variances at the time, adding no one showed up to speak for or against the application, or provide any correspondence. 

Since the board of variance is independent of city council, anyone who wants to challenge the wall and have it taken down would need to go through provincial court.

The NOW attempted to reach out to the crooner himself but didn’t get very far.

His agent Bruce Allan said Bublé was on the road in New York and wouldn’t be available to talk.       

“I have never ever heard anything, or nobody has phoned this office about a complaint about anything,” Allan said. “So I’m completely in the dark and I can’t add anything to the story. And that’s the truth, I haven’t heard one word.”