Burnaby needs to stop building fences.
In the past three years there has a been a proliferation of pedestrian fences in the Metrotown area. It started on Central Boulevard, obstructing pedestrian passage in the middle of one of the busiest transit stations in the Lower Mainland. Over the past couple of years, pedestrian fencing has been creeping down Willingdon Avenue. More appears to be coming with the refurbished medians on Willingdon.
Pedestrian fencing’s purpose is ostensibly to protect pedestrians. What it actually does is to give motorists permission to ignore their surroundings and ignore speed limits. With pedestrian fencing in place, motorists can treat city streets like freeways, assuming nobody will ever cross and increasing their speed proportionally. Metrotown is a neighbourhood fraught with traffic problems and not a place that the city should be encouraging motorists to drive faster and with less care.
The Metrotown Downtown Plan calls for Metrotown to be a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood. Building fences that inhibit pedestrians has the opposite effect. If Burnaby wants Metrotown to be a thriving town centre, then it needs to reverse this trend.
Unfortunately, we’re stuck with high-speed routes like the Kingsway and Willingdon in the Metrotown neighbourhood, but we don’t need to make that problem worse. We don’t need to let historical city plans define our future and destroy our neighbourhood.
Paul Holden, Burnaby
(Editor's note: This letter writer is not the Paul Holden who is the president and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade.)