British Columbia

Burnaby approves creating 100-year plan to turn Metrotown into city's downtown core

Mayor Mike Hurley and city councillors voted Monday in favour of a motion to start working on the Metropolis at Metrotown Master Plan, with the goal of replacing the shopping centre with high rises, plazas, parks and walkable streets.

Goal is to replace mall with high rises, plazas, walkable streets

An aerial view of Burnaby, with the Metrotown area bottom right. (City of Burnaby/Facebook)

Burnaby city council has voted in favour of creating a redevelopment plan that would transform the Metrotown mall into a "true, single downtown" core for the city over the coming century.

Mayor Mike Hurley and city councillors voted Monday in favour of a motion to start working on the Metropolis at Metrotown Master Plan, with the goal of replacing the shopping centre with high rises, plazas, parks and walkable streets.

The 100-year master plan will provide a framework for future rezoning applications for the development, according to a statement. 

Burnaby currently has four designated town centres — Edmonds, Brentwood, Lougheed and Metrotown — but hasn't developed a typical downtown core, despite the city being about 80 per cent the size of Vancouver.

Hurley said having an established core would give people more reason to get off at Metrotown SkyTrain station and enjoy the city.

"I'm excited about the idea of an events centre that would include possibly an arts centre," the mayor added Monday.

Ed Kozak, the director of planning and building with the City of Burnaby, said creating a central gathering place is an important part of the city's social strategy.

"What that does is allows for the community to be drawn into the site as they're able to experience it," he said. "It allows for the community to have a heart and a gathering place, and a place to celebrate significant things like Olympic events, Canada Day, other civic festivals and holidays."

The Metropolis at Metrotown mall is located in one of Burnaby's four designated town centres. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The city said the plan encompasses 17.7 hectares, or 44 acres, making it one of largest redevelopments in Metro Vancouver's history.

If the master plan is eventually approved, planning staff will begin working with developer Ivanhoe Cambridge on a plan that could take several decades to fulfill.

Graeme Silvera, vice-president for development and retail with Ivanhoe Cambridge, said mobility, walkability and livability are priorities for the development.

"What we really want to do is diversify the uses on the [mall] side: bring in more office jobs, bring in more residential [units], obviously both rental and for sale, and really increase the entertainment and cultural component of the site.

"Right now, [the mall] is single purpose, so part of keeping this mall relevant is to bring in other uses."

Silvera said the mall is successful and still a well used community hub, so planning teams will work to keep it operating as a viable entity while preparing the site for an eventual overhaul.

Silvera said the full build-out would require "a very significant investment" of about $6 billion.

A Metrotown downtown plan had been adopted by city council in 2017 but, in order to move forward, Burnaby had to approve the first steps of the concept.

The city will host a public information session about the most recent plans in the Atrium Court of Metrotown Mall on Nov. 25.

Listen to the full interview with Graeme Silvera below:

Mall developer Ivanhoe Cambridge vice president Graeme Silvera speaks with Stephen Quinn about the city. 8:03

With files from CBC's The Early Edition, On The Coast

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