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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A design probe comparison of regional and municipal attitudes toward regional town centres : case study in Burnaby, B. C. Beasley, Larry B.


In The Livable Region 1976/1986, the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) proposes the creation of a series of regional town centres (RTCs) --decentralized suburban clusters of activities historically found in the city centre. However, because land use control is a Municipal responsibility, the realization of RTCs is dependent upon local acceptance. Therefore the research problem is to discover discrepancies in the RTC notion as seem from a local perspective and to suggest how these might be reconciled. The RTC designated for the Municipality of Burnaby (locally called the 'Metrotown') is used as a case study. Discrepancies in the RTC idea are a function of diverging regional and local opinions that preclude their cooperation on RTC development. Diverging opinions can occur at the levels of broad planning policy, RTC modelling and specific RTC site design. A comparative analysis of regional and local positions is undertaken at these levels. However, RTC cooperation does not require concurrence between the two authorities on all policy matters. Disagreements take shape around specific issues so a 'probe design'--a hypothetical design solution—of the Metrotown site is used to isolate issues. Because design is a local matter, the design probe is done from the local viewpoint and a regional response to the various design aspects is predicted towards the formation of issues. To facilitate design and issue prediction, the local model for the Metrotown is surveyed in consultation with Burnaby planners. The regional model as published is also summarized. Issues are then proposed to be reconciled either through technical resolutions that become apparent in the process of probe design or by revisions of broader policy along lines suggested in the comparative analysis. The research predicted issues in the following areas: a. nature of movement--form of streets, transit line/stations and the arrangement of land uses relative to these; b. inclusion of residential neighbourhoods as a dominating RTC activity; c. the development approach--configuration and timing of phasing, use of a Development Corporation and treatment of existing site features; and, d. building forms, quality and costs. The arrangements of transit stations and the transit line as well as the provision of support modes are provided with technical reconciliations. The remaining issues are proposed to be reconciled by the following recommendations: a. that the GVRD continue its efforts to initiate transit, but also endorse the Municipal proposition of balanced modes for movement within and into the Burnaby- RTC; - b. that the GVRD endorse Burnaby's policy position that the Metrotown be a comprehensive 'settlement' and adjust its conception of the Burnaby RTC accordingly; c. that Burnaby adopt the GVRD's initiative approach for Metrotown implementation including ideas of a Development Corporation and timed phasing but that the GVRD adopt a position to respect Municipal control devices; and d. that Burnaby respect GVRD policy that the Burnaby RTC be one among several equally evolving RTCs and moderate development requirements to create a Metrotown that can independently attract activity. Broader differences about handling growth and integrating the RTC with the real site situation are found to exist but to have little impact on RTC design agreements. Thus, the research concludes that differences exist in RTC and Metrotown notions that could stifle regional/local cooperation on RTC development. It is found, however, that these discrepancies are amenable to reconciliation if the two authorities are prepared to accept technical compromises as well as revise their planning policies in the manner recommended.

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