Woman launches petition to save Burnaby forest

A Burnaby woman wants the city to reconsider selling a piece of land in Edmonds to developers – a move she calls “a bit of a cash grab” and a threat to wildlife.

Wendy Taylor has launched a petition to stop the sale of 6438 Byrnepark Dr., a 3.7-acre lot that is zoned medium density, according to the 1994 Edmonds town centre plan. The City of Burnaby launched a request for offers (RFO) on Sept. 27 with an application deadline of Nov. 28.

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The site is adjacent to Byrne Creek Ravine Park. The city owns two other vacant lots in that area: 6488 Byrne Park Dr. and 7388 Southwynde Ave., all of which are zoned medium density.

Should development occur, Taylor is worried it will have an impact on local wildlife, including barred owls, coyotes, Cooper’s hawks and squirrels.

“This is their home,” she told the NOW.

“I think so many multi-storey developments are happening in Burnaby, and this is a portion of the forest that really doesn’t need that. By putting a development in there, you’re taking up a lot of trees and stopping water from flowing down a very steep hill, by replacing trees with block walls.”

Taylor, who lives nearby, said more development would also increase the noise level.

She wants the city, before approving an RFO, to do an environmental assessment of the lot, “to show once and for all, these two halves of the same forest are very important.”

“The bottom half can’t be severed off,” said Taylor.

According to the Edmonds town centre plan, an environmental assessment is required, “to ensure development is undertaken in a manner sensitive to Byrne Creek Ravine Park.”

Lou Pelletier, the city’s director of planning, said that step will come prior to the development’s approval.

“When the purchaser will have to go through a rezoning application, (they) will have to satisfy that requirement of the community plan,” he said.

Colleen Jordan, chair of the city’s planning and development committee, called the petition “frustrating.”

“It’s like, ‘Ok, well you’ve torn down a bunch of forest, so we can live here, but now we’re here, but now no more, stop.’ ... It’s hard,” she said. “We have people coming and they want a place to live, and one of the things we’ve been criticized for is, ‘OK, all these towers. Where are families supposed to live?’ Now we say, ‘OK, well we have some property available and let’s make it available for families.’”

Burnaby is the third most populated city in B.C., with a population of 232,755 in 2016.

The 2017 assessed value of the Byrnepark Drive site is $26.3 million. The city’s minimum bid is $28.7 million.

Taylor’s petition – available at petitions24.com/save-our-forest – has garnered 184 signatures so far.

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