Derek Corrigan: Burnaby is on the right track

Mayor Derek Corrigan (Burnaby Citizens Association) on his plans for the future of Burnaby

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We are very proud that the Burnaby Citizens Association, a progressive centre-left civic political party, has been elected seven consecutive times to serve the people of Burnaby. Over that 21 years, Burnaby has evolved from a quiet Vancouver suburb into a vibrant regional centre, with high density development and increasing urban character. At the same time, we have carefully guarded our small town values and our sense of neighbourhood. The BCA believes that citizen participation is the fundamental principle for ensuring that we meet our objective of a successful, inclusive community.

With over 100 citizens participating on our committees and many more involved in specific task force proposals, we do our best to draw on the wisdom of our residents, businesses and community organizations. We recognize that advice on the future of our city must come from the widest cross-section of our community and it must incorporate the full range of ideas and options.

In order to establish long-term plans for our city, we have completed an Economic Development Strategy and we are presently undertaking a comprehensive study of our social infrastructure. We are also reviewing the state of our environment to update our long-standing foundation of environmental regulations and best practices. Each of these processes involves expert advice, citizen-based committees and broad consultation. We intend to bring these interrelated elements together to produce our next twenty year vision for a sustainable Burnaby.

We know we’re on the right track because we’ve made a lot of progress over the past two decades. Burnaby now has a 25% rate of transit ridership (equal to Vancouver). We have also constructed over 125 kilometres of cycling/pedestrian trails. We’ve established intensive density around SkyTrain stations, leading to 40% alternative transportation usage in Metrotown. Our city is now 1/4 parkland, unparalleled by any urban centre in B.C. We have more jobs than residents and many of those jobs are in the high-paying, knowledge-based sectors. BCIT and SFU, two of the best educational institutions in Canada, provide creative graduates to our businesses and even help us to design our community plans. A good example is the internationally recognized UniverCity development on Burnaby Mountain. We are also very proud of our efforts to attract the movie and television industry with over 50% of all B.C. studio space now located in Burnaby.

And we know how to have fun. We host the Giro d’Burnaby, Hats Off Day in the Heights, the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival and dozens of local community events. In partnership with Live Nation, Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park regularly welcomes top quality musical performances and the city-owned Swangard Stadium is a favourite place to watch international sporting events. From Copeland Arena to our skateboard parks and mountain bike course, Burnaby’s recreational facilities are second to none.

Burnaby is also the most financially stable city in the region. We have no debt and we hold substantial cash and property reserves. We also maintain residential and business taxes at rates that are among the lowest in the Metro area. The BCA believes that financial responsibility is an important cornerstone of sustainability. Not only do we owe future generations a healthy environment, we also owe them a healthy bottom line.

We are particularly excited about the new opportunities that are arising from the interaction of cultures as our city becomes more and more diverse. People from Afghanistan to Zanzibar call Burnaby home and we speak over 100 languages. When we reach out to the rest of the world, we have the wonderful advantage of citizens who know and understand our new friends. In fact, our outstanding group of BCA candidates is very representative of our multicultural identity and the increasing participation of new Canadians in reshaping our community.

The future of Burnaby is in the hands of our citizens. As we nurture the ideas and creativity that abound in our city, we fully expect another two decades of progress. To continue our tradition of great local government, we sincerely hope that Burnaby voters will support the Burnaby Citizens Association.

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