A five-tower development proposed for Burnaby’s border on the site of the former Best Western hotel on North Road has cleared its first bureaucratic hurdle.
Following a public hearing on Dec. 10, council approved a change to its official community plan to allow the development by Anthem Properties to proceed at 319 North Rd. Anthem plans to build more than 1,500 residential units in the five towers, ranging from 29 to 44 storeys. Plans also call for retail and commercial space, a six-storey rental building, and a daycare facility.
Traffic issues, however, dominated council’s questioning during the public hearing. Some councillors expressed concern construction could make access difficult on neighbouring properties.
“I don’t want to see the property to the north landlocked or orphaned,” said Coun. Dennis Marsden.
A representative of the owners of 323 North Rd. said access was a primary concern. So was the close proximity to their property line of the first two towers Anthem proposes to build because it could limit the opportunity to build a tower on their property in the future.
The first of four construction phases also calls for a north-south road to be built paralleling North Road before angling southeast alongside Highway 1 to connect to Alderson Avenue. The present plans also call for the western portion of a new east-west route to connect North Road to the Lougheed Highway to be built. A traffic signal will be installed at that intersection while the light at Delestre Avenue and North Road will be removed. The section of Delestre to the north-south connector will then be closed.
But some councillors wanted to see the east-west route completed as part of the first phase to reduce congestion in an area rife with rat runners looking to avoid the busy North Road and Lougheed Highway intersection.
Anthem vice-president of development Paul Faibish said that, at the urging of council during the OCP amendment’s first reading on Nov. 19, the company has since decided to incorporate 27 three-bedroom homes into the 514-unit first phase.
Faibish also said that although the estimated capacity for the daycare space was initially 37 children, further consultation with industry providers determined 5,000-square-foot facility could accommodate at least 72 children. But Anthem doesn’t plan on building the daycare until the fourth and final phase.
That didn’t sit well with Coun. Trish Mandewo.
“There’s a lot to be desired in my opinion. I think the daycare needs to come earlier in the application,” said Mandewo,
It was suggested to Anthem it could phase-in the daycare by providing space in the commercial portions of its earlier phases.
Coun. Craig Hodge said in an interview Tuesday that council decided to approve the OCP amendment because all of the issues being raised by council were about the building and timing of the project, not its land use. Those concerns, he said, could be worked out at the development permit stage.
Hodge added Anthem, the city and the other property owners should get together to work things out.
“It became clear to me while some were talking to one another they weren’t talking to everyone,” said Hodge.
Faibish told council the timeline calls for the first two phases to be completed by 2024 and all four phases by 2026.