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Burnaby to focus evacuation planning on Metrotown instead of Brentwood

City of Burnaby staff will use UBCM funding to make evacuation plans for Metrotown instead of Brentwood after a change approved by city council this week.
A view of Metrotown in Burnaby.

The City of Burnaby has decided to work on emergency evacuation plans for Metrotown instead of Brentwood.

The city applied for a Union of B.C. Municipalities community emergency preparedness fund grant in May for public notification and evacuation route planning in the Brentwood area.

UBCM administers the provincial funding to help cities prepare for emergencies, including planning evacuation routes and putting notification systems in place.

"Efficient and safe evacuation routes are needed for the movement of people, livestock, animals and personal property from an area of imminent or actual threat to an area of safety," states the UBCM website. "Successful and detailed planning is the key to effectively executed evacuations when an event occurs that requires these actions."

Public notifications and emergency alerts, meanwhile, are crucial for delivering critical, life-saving information – including those that require evacuation, according to the UBCM.

Burnaby's application for the funding was approved in July, but a staff report to council Monday said the money would be better spent planning for a Metrotown evacuation and requested council approve an amendment to the project.

As a regional city centre, the report noted Metrotown serves not only the people who live in the community, but people from all over Metro Vancouver and visitors alike.

The area has also seen "significant investment in regional-scale infrastructure and transportation as well as city-wide services and amenities," according to the report, and is expected to accommodate a "significant share" of the 125,000 people expected to be in the city by 2041.

"Evacuation route planning for the Metrotown quadrant will be complex due to numerous factors such as its geography, shared jurisdictional boundaries with City of Vancouver and City of New Westminster, unique and evolving hazard profile, projected population growth and varying land uses," stated the report.

Staff said a council resolution was required by UBCM to change the focus of the project from Brentwood to Metrotown.

City council unanimously approved the change without discussion.

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