City of Burnaby planning vibrant transformation of BC Parkway through Metrotown

Apr 27 2023, 4:04 pm

The BC Parkway naturally serves as the urban public space spine of Burnaby’s emerging city centre in the Metrotown area, and there are now plans to drastically improve it to its full potential.

On Wednesday, during his State of the City address to the Burnaby Board of Trade, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley announced design and planning efforts are now well underway on turning a three-km-long segment of the BC Parkway — between Central Park’s Kingsway edge and SkyTrain Royal Oak Station — into a vibrant, active space that adds to the area’s urban life.

In its existing condition, the BC Parkway through this area is a pedestrian and cyclist route that follows the Expo Line’s elevated guideway. It generally has few features other than a pathway for active transportation uses, and parts of it are in poor condition.

“It falls fall short of its potential of being a great urban space in the heart of Burnaby’s downtown. What if we transform this section of the BC Parkway into a truly special place? What if we saw it in a whole new way and reimagined it as an urban space that fulfills the needs of residents, of neighbourhoods, and of our city?” said Hurley.

“We believe the BC Parkway can be more than a utility corridor with a path.”

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BC Parkway and SkyTrain Expo Line in the Metrotown area. (City of Burnaby)

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BC Parkway and SkyTrain Expo Line in the Metrotown area. (City of Burnaby)

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Existing condition of BC Parkway looking west from Willingdon Avenue (between Metrotown and Patterson stations). (Google Maps)

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Existing condition of BC Parkway looking west from Dow Avenue (east of Metrotown Station). (Google Maps)

Hurley described this forthcoming project as a transformation of the BC Parkway in the area into a linear park that is an extension of Central Park. It would become a destination, complete with nature, recreation, arts, and culture, and places to gather, socialize, and recharge.

As an example of the area’s event-friendly potential, he also invoked the success of the 2022 Canada Day street party held along Central Boulevard next to the BC Parkway within the Metrotown area.

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Preliminary concept of the BC Parkway enhancement within the Metrotown Downtown area plan. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (Revery Architecture/City of Burnaby)

The transformation of the BC Parkway aligns with the public space improvements outlined in the City’s 2017-enacted Metrotown Downtown Plan, which is particularly notable for prescribing the long-term demolition and redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall into the core of the city centre.

The municipal government listed a number of global examples of how vibrant public spaces have been created beneath bridges, viaducts, and rail elevated guideways, including Taman Film in Bandung (Indonesia), Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project in Melbourne (Australia), The Underline in Miami (Florida), and Hatch in Manchester (UK), which introduced commercial retail units in shipping containers under a bridge structure.

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Taman FIlm in Bandung, Indonesia. (City of Burnaby)

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The Underline in Miami. (City of Burnaby)

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Caulfield-Dandenong project in Melbourne. (City of Burnaby)

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The Hatch in Manchester. (City of Burnaby)

Currently, City staff are in the early stages of working on a detailed design plan for the Metrotown area segment of the BC Parkway. They have contracted Vancouver-based firm Revery Architecture to create the conceptual design.

More details on the project will be released in the coming months for public consultation.

Over the years, there have already been some public space improvements to the areas in and around the BC Parkway in the Metrotown area.

Along the Beresford Street (south) side of the BC Parkway, the municipal government has designated the segment of the street between Willingdon Avenue and Dow Street as the Beresford Art Walk. Recent redevelopments fronting Beresford Street have incorporated major public art pieces to enhance the streetscape.

Since late 2021, the City has been funding the installation of an extensive programmable digital LED lighting system on the underside of the Expo Line’s elevated guideway between Patterson and Edmonds stations — on a total of 178 concrete pillars over a total distance of 5 km. This serves to animate the space under the guideway and improve nighttime lighting on the BC Parkway’s pathway.

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New permanent programmable lighting installed on the SkyTrain Expo Line guideway near Metrotown Station. (City of Burnaby)

In December 2021, the first span of LED lighting was installed between Willingdon Avenue and Metrotown Station. As of now, the span between Patterson and Royal Oak stations is complete, and attention is turning to completing the remaining span between Royal Oak and Edmonds stations.

Earlier this year, City Council approved a total contract value increase to $13 million to cover the installation cost of the remaining segment, and add pedestrian safety lighting components. This includes reallocating $3.2 million from the budget previously set aside for the Highway 1 pedestrian overpass linking the trails of Burnaby Lake and Deer Lake parks.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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