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Letter: Bainbridge NIMBYs falsely said I was opposed to adding density in Burnaby

A Bainbridge resident supports plan for an urban village.
A rendering of the Bainbridge Urban Village plan by the City of Burnaby.


Re: 'Leave us alone': Burnaby resident beg council to stop rezoning, NOW News

I attended a city council meeting on May 9 and witnessed a two-person delegation in front of the mayor and city councillors to petition the city against rezoning the properties on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue in the Bainbridge Urban Village Plan.  

I disagree with the delegation and I believe they misrepresented my views as a resident on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue. 

The delegation said they conducted a door-to-door survey and 66% of Bainbridge East residents did not want their properties to be included in the urban village plan. A map was put up on the big screen to identify all the houses that opposed the plan. 

I was surprised to see that my house was also identified as in “opposition” on the map. Subsequent to the meeting, I talked to a few neighbours and they were all furious that someone was using misinformation to lobby the city against the plan.  We are all residents on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue. We live in the houses that are directly affected by this petition and the delegation claimed to be representing. We have not been surveyed by anyone nor signed any petition. I don’t know how our houses ended up getting labelled as “against the plan” on their petition.

During the council meeting, the delegation never told us what questions were asked in their door-to-door survey and how they determined the residents were opposed to the plan. But one delegate said many residents in the Bainbridge East areas did not want the city to rezone the properties on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue because they were afraid that developers will build six-storey apartments against their backyards  But according to the land-use designation map on pages 24 and 25 of the draft urban village plan, the properties on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue are only designated for two- to –three storey rowhouses and townhouses (three- to four-storey apartments if you are directly next to the high-rise towers).

This type of low-density housing is no taller than many existing homes in the neighbourhood. The draft urban village plan is a large document and I imagine many people did not study it thoroughly. I wonder how many people ended up signing the petition because of misinformation from the surveyors.

Please understand that if we say “no” to rezoning the properties east of Bainbridge Avenue as per the petition, we are effectively saying all the properties on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue will have to remain single-family houses. But across the street, on the west side of Bainbridge Avenue, there will be mid-rise and high-rise towers according to the latest urban village plan. 

During the council meeting, the delegation repeatedly said they did not want low-density housing to encroach to the east side of Bainbridge Avenue because they value their space. If it is not OK for them to have low-density housing that are effectively the same height as the existing houses in the neighbourhood, how can they justify that it’s OK for the residents on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue to be stuck in our single-family houses with high-rise towers up to 14-storey directly in front of us? 

As soon as the city approves the urban village plan, the houses on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue will no longer be desirable location for single-family housing given the expected size of the future buildings across the street. Therefore the residents must be provided an option to sell our properties for multi-family redevelopment. 

I think the city planners already understand that any zoning changes need to transition gradually. We cannot draw an imaginary line down the middle of Bainbridge Avenue and declare it the end of the urban village. It will not be good city planning if we allow high-rise buildings on the west side of the street but the east has to stay single-family houses.

The neighbourhood is interconnected and everything has to flow smoothly. I believe the draft urban village plan already took that into consideration by designating low-density housing on the east side of Bainbridge Avenue. There is nothing wrong with the draft plan. I implore the city to continue to demonstrate leadership by addressing where future population needs to live and ensure Burnaby is welcoming of diversity.

James Vong, Burnaby