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Burnaby Heights businesses petition against bus rapid transit on Hastings

The Heights Merchants Association and many of its members want the Purple Line bus rapid transit to run along Boundary Road instead of Hastings Street.
BRT bogota web
An example of bus rapid transit in Bogota, Colombia.

Hundreds of business owners, employees and customers of Burnaby Heights are petitioning Burnaby council for an alternate route for a bus rapid transit line from West Vancouver to Metrotown.

The petition, submitted by the Heights Merchants Association's executive director Isabel Kolic, contained 741 names opposing the route along Hastings Street for the bus rapid transit (BRT) line.

The association, which represents 360 businesses over 12 blocks along Hastings, is concerned the bus line would mean a loss of 346 street parking spots.

The petitioners requested the alignment be changed from Hastings to Boundary Road, as the association has lobbied for multiple times in the last three months.

The two Purple Line alignments for a BRT from Park Royal to Metrotown. The original Hastings Street route is on the left (image: North Shore Connects), the modified route along Boundary Road is on the right (image: City of Burnaby).

The merchants' petition also asks for Burnaby Heights to be given "special consideration out of recognition that a community's commercial district requires a sensitive approach to transportation policy."

BRT, which is not the same as Rapid Bus, is a high frequency, high capacity transit service on busy corridors that can be built at "a fraction of the cost of rail-based technology" and is faster to build, according to TransLink.

The Purple Line will link Park Royal to Metrotown.

TransLink estimates the BRT line will cost $250 million to $300 million.

The merchants want the city to retain the on-street parking spots along Hastings and are lobbying for an express bus service on Hastings with bus bulges instead of the BRT.

In November, a group of transit advocates lobbied for the Hastings BRT alignment as they want the Heights district to be more easily accessible by rapid transit.

Multiple advocates noted Boundary Road does not have the same commercial or residential density as the Heights and suggested the BRT could bring new customers to the area.

But Kolic said all shoppers need to be considered, not just bus riders.

"If the city wants to have urban villages that truly thrive, we need to consider all aspects of what merchants and shoppers need; not just some shoppers, but all of them," Kolic wrote in a letter attached to the petition.

She said many Heights customers are seniors, have disabilities, or are not able to take a bus.

"The HMA advocates for better transit to be sure, but it is simultaneously defending our shopping street's accessibility to ALL kinds of customers, not only freely mobile or the bus-riding kind."

The petition was formally received by council at its meeting Monday, Jan. 15.

There was no discussion during the meeting, but afterwards Mayor Mike Hurley told the Burnaby NOW he wants to see more information from TransLink and city staff on the two routes before he makes a decision.

"It's very important that we have proper bus routes, if we're going to meet our climate change targets.," Hurley said.

"Let's wait and see what comes out of all the reports."

You can toggle each purple line to see the two proposed routes in the map below.