Thursday, July 31, 2008

City mourns a leader

Backrooms column by Dan Hilborn
Published July 29, 2006

Some very sad news arrived during my two-week summer holiday. Sheila Veitch, the former Burnaby city councillor, school trustee and widow of one-time deputy premier Elwood 'Slim' Veitch, passed away July 8 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer.

Sheila was one of the first female politicians I ever met in Burnaby, and she was much more than just the gatekeeper to her husband's telephone (which she excelled at).

A dauntless campaigner, her son Brian told a terrific tale of her temerity in her eulogy, which wass heard by a standing-room-only crowd that featured both Grace McCarthy and 'whistling' Bernie Smith at South Burnaby United Church.

Apparently, Sheila and a volunteer were doorknocking on Slim's behalf when a naked man holding a beer opened the door.

"The volunteer bolted away but our Mom stared him straight in the eyes and began her campaign pitch," Brian said. When her two-minute campaign spiel was finished, Sheila asked her usual question, "Will you vote for Elwood Veitch?" Of course, the nude man was so impressed, he said "Yes."

Her list of personal achievements is nothing short of astounding.

Sheila was a mainstay of the Burnaby Council of Women, the B.C. Council of Women and one-time vice-president of the Canadian Council of Women. She was a member of the Metrotown Rotary Club and on the board of stewards at South Burnaby United Church and the board of Fair Haven United Church Homes. She was also active on the boards of Langara College, Vancouver Community College and the Burnaby College for the Retired. She served on the the B.C. Parole Board, kept books for the St. Michael's Centre gift shop, volunteered with Rotary Anns, was secretary of the New Westminster and District Concert Band and was an area captain for the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal.

And then, of course, there was politics. Sheila served on the Burnaby school board from 1981 to 1985 and was chair of its finance and buildings and grounds committees. She was elected to city council in 1985 and also served on the city's library board, plus the crime prevention, traffic and safety and grants committees.

She was a volunteer extraordinaire and had a heart of gold that shone through in every deed of her life.

Sheila will be sadly missed by her children Barb (Reg), Brian (Lauren), Gregory (Isabelle), grandchildren Kelsey, Brock, Sarah, Connor, Spencer and Alexandria. Donations to the B.C. Cancer Foundation are appreciated.


Add another high-profile business person to the growing list of people upset with Burnaby council's recent liquor store location policy.

Bruce Orr, president of Orr Development Corp. and builder of the 150,000-square-foot Centrepoint development going up across the street from Metropolis at Metrotown, says Burnaby is unfairly blocking private liquor store applications for his project. Centrepoint has signed a tentative lease with the former Diego's Pub (now Maverick's) to operate a 4,500-sq.-ft. private liquor store in the new development, and that application is now stuck in limbo, said Orr.

"For one year, Diego's has worked tirelessly to get approval and we have kept 4,500 sq.ft. available for them on the understanding that fair play, an open and accountable permitting system would prevail. Unfortunately events have proven us wrong," Orr said in a June 19 letter to council.

Over the phone, Orr became even more irate.

"These (Diego's) are taxpaying people who play by the rules and they should be treated with respect," he said. "In Vancouver, you don't have to rezone for a private liquor store, you just get a licence. In Burnaby, they make you rezone.

"Well, Diego's did that and they still get slapped with a moratorium. I think it's an abuse of the system."


It's worth passing on a little observation courtesy of an unnamed social worker following the publication of my story about the new windows at the Hall Towers.

Given our provincial government's penchant for micromanaging, it's likely that the decision to spend $4.6 million to replace the gaping windows was made at the cabinet level, said the source.

The installation of the new windows comes three years after a diagnosed schizophrenic, Harry Kierans, leaped to his death from the 14th floor of one of the 30-year-old buildings, despite his repeated requests to get out of the building.

In the original announcement, a government spokesperson said that energy efficiency was the main reason for the new windows, although the safety of residents "was a consideration."

Kind of warms the heart, eh?

Giro di Burnaby a big success

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 29, 2006

There was an air of joviality in the Burnaby city council chambers Monday night as Mayor Derek Corrigan received the perpetual trophy and a replica winner's jersey from the successful Giro di Burnaby cycling race, held in the Heights neighbourhood on July 14.

"Oh, isn't that beautiful," the mayor quipped as he held up the distinctive pink and black racing shirt modelled after the winners' jersey used in the Giro d'Italia. "I assume we're going to have more of these."

An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people showed up to watch the first ever cycling criterium race in the Heights neighbourhood on July 14, making it one of the biggest professional cycling events in the Lower Mainland.

And in a report to city council last Monday night, event organizer Rainy Kent said the race is now on solid footing and looks forward to growing over the next few years.

The only real "hiccup" was the slightly late arrival of the hay truck - it was stuck in freeway traffic - which delayed the start of the two races by about 10 minutes, and resulted in the men's race finishing just as twilight was descending, Kent said.

"There was not one mishap," Kent told council. "The RCMP said they'd never seen an event run so smoothly and, all in all, it was a huge success."

"I couldn't believe how exciting it was," added the mayor, who admitted he'd never seen a cycling race before.

Corrigan also paid tribute to the police, firefighters and city engineers who worked the event, the volunteers and merchants who helped out and the race's official artist, Luigia Zilli.

Corrigan also said that the event would not have happened without the dedication and work of Coun. Pietro Calendino, who fundraised more than half the estimated $51,000 cost.

Speaking after the council meeting, Calendino said he would eventually like to see a longer 'road race' added to the event, so that residents in both north and south Burnaby can watch the race go past their own neighbourhoods.

"My vision was to have a road race to start, but that meant a lot more planning, volunteers and more involvement by police and city departments," he said. "We want all of Burnaby to get the flavour of this."

Before expanding the race, the city hopes to have the Giro di Burnaby criterium race formally added to the Lower Mainland's 'cycling superweek' schedule, which features similar short track criterium races in Delta, White Rock and Gastown.

Calendino also said the race is well worth the price.

"For the entertainment it provides and the participation of the population, it's well-spent money," Calendino said. "One other thing, we'd like the merchants to have their foods out, so it becomes a fair along with a sporting event."

Racers from as far away as Ontario, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and New Jersey were among the participants in this year's event.

Calendino also hopes that this year's winners - Heights' resident Gina Grain in the women's division and Australia's Hilton Clarke in the men's division - will wear their distinctive Giro di Burnaby winner's jackets when they come back to the race next year.

Housing plan debated

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 26, 2006

A provincial government plan that could give direct cash subsidies to help low-income families pay for housing is coming under fire in the Burnaby city council chambers.

Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the city's housing committee, said the proposal, which is expected to be made public in early September, will do nothing to help the estimated 3,800 Burnaby residents who are currently on the B.C. Housing waiting list.

"If you just give low-income people a subsidy, it may not go to housing at all," Jordan told the Burnaby NOW Tuesday morning. "It'll also just cause landlords to raise the rents, because they know people have more income."

Jordan said that a better plan would be to have the provincial and federal governments work together to build more affordable housing.

"There hasn't been any more non-market housing built in years and years," she said. "The feds have not put money up for it, the province has not and I think the last time any GVRD housing was put up was eight years ago.

"Even if people put up the land, there's no money for the capital. ... There's nothing to address any of it."

Jordan noted that the lack of funding is being felt in a wide variety of ways, including the pending loss of a 'safe house' for streets kids in North Vancouver, which is used by young people from Burnaby. At a recent GVRD workshop on the homelessness issue, North Vancouver City mayor Darrell Mussatto told Jordan that his council was looking for an additional $120,000 to keep open its safe house for kids.

Jordan also noted that a similar five-bed youth safe house in Burnaby operated from 2000 until 2003, when its funding was cut by the provincial government.

"What that tells me is there's young people looking for a safe place to stay, and we don't have it in Burnaby anymore," Jordan said. "If kids are looking for a safe place to stay they now have to go to North Vancouver or Surrey. But they've closed Burnaby, and now they're going to close the one in North Vancouver."

Jordan's words were echoed by Team Burnaby councillor Garth Evans, who described direct cash subsides to low income families as "the worst way to provide housing."

Evans said a better alternative might be to to give subsidies to landlords or developers to help keep their rents low.

And mayor Derek Corrigan waded into the argument by stating that shelters are not necessarily the best alternative either. "People don't just need a shelter. They need comprehensive assistance to deal with other problems like alcohol and addictions," he said.

Mercury spills at store

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 22, 2006

Several employees at the Lordco auto parts outlet on Edmonds Street lost their shoes, and one employee had to give up his clothing, after a hazardous material incident last Friday afternoon.

A small amount of mercury was spilled, prompting a call to the hazardous material response team of the Burnaby Fire Department.

While the fire department was able to clean up the majority of the estimated two ounces of mercury without incident, a private hazardous materials response team was also called out to help with the job.

"In the grand scheme of things, this wasn't a large spill," said Chris Nicholson, supervisor of CEDA Reactor Ltd. in Coquitlam. "But it was a small amount spread over a large area."

While the store was evacuated, nobody was injured in the incident. Mercury is a heavy silver liquid that is most harmful if its vapours are inhaled either in large doses or over a long period of time.

A manager at Lordco who identified himself only as "Steve" said the mercury spilled out of a tool that was recently purchased from a nearby motorcycle dealership, and his employees were not forewarned about the presence of the toxic substance.

"If we had known, I don't think we would have even been transporting that tool," he said.

The employee's shoes and clothing were removed for clean-up and further testing to see if they had any contamination, and were expected to be returned to their rightful owners this week.

New windows in BC Housing apartments

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 22, 2006

Three years after Harry Kierans leaped to his death out the windows of his 14th-floor suite in the Hall Towers at Kingsway and Edmonds, B.C. Housing is halfway through a $4.6-million program of installing safer, smaller and more energy-efficient windows in the two highrise apartment buildings.

"This is part of our modernization and improvement program," said Sam Rainboth, manager of public affairs for the government agency that provides social housing and rental subsidies for an estimated 67,000 households across the province.

While the window replacement program was "not directly related" to Kierans' suicide on July 25, 2003, the "safety of residents was a consideration," Rainboth said.

"The windows were in need of replacement," Rainboth said. Although the original windows met the building code when the towers were originally built - the first tower went up in 1972 and the second was completed five years later - they had developed water leaks and were requiring an increased amount of maintenance.

The new smaller windows are double paned and have stronger frames, and will also result in energy cost savings, he said, adding that one of the buildings has more than 300 separate windows.

Family members of Harry Kierans, who have been fighting for smaller windows in the buildings, said the replacement program is a cause of mixed emotions.

"Seeing the building being retrofitted with safe window units, I had a mixture of deep sadness and relief," said Harry's sister Mae Kierans, a Catholic nun. "Sadness that the retrofit was too late for my dear brother Harry, but relief for the other persons suffering from mental illness who still live there."

Kierans also told the Burnaby NOW that she was shocked when she first saw the large, old windows in the Hall Towers.

"Walking into his apartment days after his death, with the huge gaping window still wide open and the curtains still flapping out, I experienced vertigo," she said. "I could have fallen out myself from dizziness if I went near the windows to close them, so I stayed away from them. Any child could have fallen out, the ledges were so low.

"Why would anyone assign persons suffering from mental illness to such a death trap?"

Mae and Harry's other sister, lawyer Kathleen Walker, have been calling for a formal coroner's inquest into their brother's death for the past three years.

In a July 23, 2005 story published in the Burnaby NOW, the two sisters said that a lack of government services and a slow-moving bureaucracy were two key factors behind the suicide.

After filing a series of freedom of information requests to obtain their brother's government records, Harry's sisters received a stack of documents measuring more than 22-cm thick including several memos that indicate Harry had made several requests to move out of the Hall Tower in the months leading up to his suicide.

The sisters found that Harry and his wife, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had also received several threats of eviction from the building manager due to their inability to keep their apartment clean. The files also indicate that the couple had lost the services of a home support worker in 1999.

The most upsetting aspect of the reports was a memo indicating that a decision had been made to return the home support worker to Harry and his wife in the week prior to his suicide.

Also included in the documents was a "confidential issues note" dated Jan. 16, 2004 and presented to then-health minister Colin Hansen that gives the following summary of the original B.C. Coroner's report into Harry's death. "The (coroner's) report contains no recommendations, but it does highlight the serious issues relating to apparent systemic failures in providing care that was appropriate and well-coordinated among agencies, i.e. B.C. Housing, to meet the client's particular needs."

Mae Kierans continues to press her case for a formal investigation into the circumstances around her brother's death and has asked for assistance from Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan, who was recently appointed the NDP critic for mental health.

MLA takes seat on health team

Backrooms column by Dan Hilborn
Published July 12, 2006

Expect to hear more news from Burnaby-Edmonds NDP MLA Raj Chouhan in the coming months, as the B.C. NDP prepares to escalate its fight against the provincial government's health-care policies.

Chouhan was named the NDP critic for mental health just prior to the Canada Day holiday, joining a new three-person team on the overall health care file.

Leading the team will be rising star Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix, with assistance from West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy, who takes on the critic role for seniors' health.

The formation of the new NDP health care team is part of a strategy to reverse the NDP's dismal showing in recent public opinion polls, and the three critics all have powerhouse resumes.

Dix has already won accolades for his earlier work on the ministry of children and families file, while Conroy is former hospital board member. Chouhan is no slouch himself.

"I have 18 years experience working on health care," said the former organizer for the Hospital Employees' Union.

And he wasted no time criticizing the Liberals for failing to help people suffering from mental health problems and addictions.

"The Liberals have looked at mental health as something secondary," Chouhan said. "The number of people on the street who are grappling with mental health and addiction has grown significantly."

At the top of Chouhan's list are calls to provide a greater investment in crisis management and detox beds.

"In Burnaby, the Liberals closed Maple Cottage detox centre," he said. "Those kinds of community-based programs are not only a necessary feature of a compassionate society, they make common sense."

Chouhan noted that the mental health file has some "crossover issues" with his other great interest - human rights.

"People who have suffered from mental disorders are many times not looked at as equals.

"They are treated as second class citizens who don't belong in mainstream society," he said. "That's a human rights issue. We want these people to have the same respect as anyone else."

While Chouhan gives up his former critic role on human rights, he will continue to work on the marriage fraud file.


A little housekeeping is in order after I mistakenly referred to city councillor Gary Begin as the chair of St. Michael's Centre in a recent story.

Begin was the chair until last month when he moved over to become chair of the Fairhaven United Church Home. His Team Burnaby colleague Barbara Spitz is the new chair at St. Michael's.


It appears the former Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Patty Sahota is back in the game, and expanding her boundaries.

Sahota, a former minister of state for resort development, is a B.C. regional organizer for one of the contenders in the federal Liberal leadership contest, according to a report on the Public Eye website.

Sahota is apparently working with Ujjal Dosanjh and former Vancouver city organizer Mae Brown on the campaign of former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae, said a June 8 posting.

The moves comes as a bit of a surprise to those pundits who thought Sahota was more closely aligned with the Conservative Party than the New Democrats. Attempts to contact Sahota through both the federal and provincial Liberal headquarters were unsuccessful.

Rest home union vows to fight

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 8, 2006

The Hospital Employees' Union is going back to the B.C. Labour Relations Board to ensure that Compass Group Canada lives up to its obligations to workers at the Normanna rest home in Burnaby.

Judy Darcy, secretary-business manager for the union, said Thursday that she intends to continue fighting for the 25 employees who were given layoff notices five days after the board imposed a contract settlement on the firm.

"The fact that Compass is walking away from the contract does not take away the employees' entitlement," Darcy said. "For people earning $10 an hour, this is significant, and we're going to fight to get them every penny they're entitled to."

The settlement, which provided for pay raises of 24 per cent, included an additional $1 an hour retroactive to May 1, 2006 and a lump sum signing bonus of about $800 per employee, Darcy said.

Darcy said the company's refusal to abide by the terms of the board settlement are astounding, especially in light of the fact that the U.K.-based company reported profits in excess of $530 million over a recent six-month period.

"How can they, with any credibility, plead poverty?" Darcy asked. "It just doesn't wash. I challenge them, if they're pleading poverty now: open your books.

"This is not a company that's on the verge of bankruptcy. When we're talking about those kinds of profits, they're walking away from a commercial contract that would pay these workers $11 an hour this year and $12 an hour next.

"There's something very wrong with that picture. These workers should not be subjected to this uncertainty, and the health-care system should not be subjected to this."

Margi Blamey, media relations officer for the union, said the union was contemplating legal action against Compass but has since learned that the labour board still holds jurisdiction.

"The contract is a contract," Blamey said. "If the company refuses to abide by the contract, even though it has terminated its health services agreement with Normanna, I believe the arbitrator holds jurisdiction.

"That contract is still in force for the 60 days, so there is every expectation that our members will be paid all the moneys due to them," Blamey added.

The union's comments came just hours after Normanna executive director Margaret Douglas-Matthews announced that B.C.-based Servantage will take over the contract for the 25 housekeepers, laundry workers and dietary aides at Normanna after the current contract is handed over on Aug. 30.

Servantage will also host a job fair next week for current employees at Normanna, and Douglas-Matthews is hoping that anyone who wants to continue working at the care centre will be allowed to keep their job.

Darcy and Blamey both confirmed that the union is looking forward to establishing a good working relationship with Servantage.

Roselin Chandra, one of the affected food services workers, said the majority of Normanna employees recognize that their protracted labour problems were the result of Compass's actions and not the fault of the care home.

"Basically, we got screwed by Compass. I don't know how else to put it," Chandra said. "We're very disappointed. They wasted our time and money. And when we did get a contract, we got pink slips instead."

And with the new contract in place between Normanna and Servantage, it appears unlikely that the Fraser Health Authority will step into the fray.

"Our role, from our perspective, is that we fund contractors to provide care to the residents and then we monitor that care," said Michael Bernard, senior communications consultant for the regional health authority. "We don't get involved unless there is a direct impact on residential care delivery.

"At this point in time, it is not having a direct impact such that we have to step in," he said.

Bernard noted that both Compass and Normanna are within their rights to terminate the contract, as long as the care of patients is not compromised.

The Burnaby NOW also spoke to several family members of residents living in Normanna care home, all of whom applauded the quality of care provided at the facility.

"I feel the staff here is absolutely wonderful, and I don't believe there'll be any problems," said Ellen Henderson, who has had a family member in the facility for the past six years. "The quality of care the residents are given is excellent. I'd say most people are extremely pleased with the quality of care they're receiving."

"I just want to give some support to the workers because they really do a good job," said Laura Sollero, whose husband has been in Normanna for the past two-and-a-half years. "It's a friendly place."

Another family member, Theresa Facchin, said the Normanna employees have always done their best, no matter what was going on around them. "For the money that they've been paid to do that, they're pretty good," Facchin said. "But we do hope that things will get straightened out so we can keep the workers that are there now."

Meanwhile, Brenda Brown, vice- president of human resources for Compass Group Canada, said her company "resigned the account simply because it was no longer economically viable.

"The financials wouldn't work for us with the new collective agreement - not so much the collective agreement but the labour board decision," Brown said.

Brown was unable to respond when asked why Compass refused to pay the arbitrated settlement that was based on the wages paid by the Compass's major competitors, Sodexho and Aramark.

"I really can't comment on how they run their businesses," Brown said. "I don't know what their commercial contracts are and I can't say why it's viable for them. Every account has its own contract, and the terms are not public knowledge."

Brown also said that Compass is continuing to negotiate the terms of employment for another 1,000 union members who work on Vancouver Island and with the provincial health services authority.

"Everyone always wants to reach a negotiated agreement that best suits both parties," Brown said.

"That's what we all aim to do. We go into it with the best intentions in mind."

Employees get layoff notices

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 5, 2006

Unionized workers at the Normanna rest home in Burnaby are in shock this week after the U.K.-based Compass Group Canada rejected a B.C. Labour Relations Board-imposed settlement that would have given them up to a 24 per cent pay raise over the next two years.

"This was a pretty awful Canada Day gift for these folks," said Judy Darcy, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees' Union. "Compass is the largest catering company in the world, and a collective agreement that will give these 25 workers comparable wages with others in the industry surely isn't a make-or-break financial situation for this global corporation."

Last week, the Burnaby NOW reported that B.C. Labour Relations Board arbitrator Brian Foley had imposed a new collective agreement on the company after more than a year of bargaining. At the time, Brenda Brown, the vice president of human resources for Compass, said the company was reviewing their options and had no comment on the imposed settlement.

The layoffs are now scheduled to take effect on Aug. 31. Affected staff were meeting with Normanna administrators to discuss the matter on Tuesday morning, and Darcy said the HEU was hoping to schedule its own meeting with the workers to discuss their next move as soon as possible.

Margaret Douglas-Matthews, the executive director of 100-bed care home, said Normanna is now seeking a new contractor to take over the contract.

"Compass came to us and asked us to pay the lion's share of the settlement," Douglas-Matthews said. "With our current financial restraints we're not able to assume this additional financial burden."

Burnaby city councillor Gary Begin, who is the chairman of the board at St. Michael's Care Home, also in Burnaby, said it may now fall to the Fraser Health Authority to step in and try to settle the two-year-old labour dispute.

"If they can't seem to operate the place in a peaceful manner, I think for the sake of the residents, Fraser Health would want to step in and make sure there is labour peace," Begin said. "We non- profits get our funding from them, so they have a vested interest in what goes on."

Darcy agreed that the local health authority should look into the matter. "I do think the Fraser health Authority should be concerned," she said. "This can only lead to more instability in providing care."

Darcy noted that the situation at Normanna does not bode well for 1,000 other HEU employees who are currently negotiating with the Compass Group for new contracts in the Vancouver Island and provincial health authorities.

"What's really going on here, we don't know," Darcy said. "We're trying to see if there are any legal or other options under the Labour Relations Act."

Douglas-Matthews also noted that Normanna has still not received its 2006/07 operating budget from the Fraser Health Authority, which was supposed to take effect on April 1.

Regardless of who take over the contract, Douglas-Matthews said she hopes that the current employees keep their jobs. "I'm very pleased with the quality of work, the attitude of staff and their team work," she said.

University growing yet again

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 5, 2006

The massive UniverCity development on Burnaby Mountain continues to grow, with two unique rezoning applications that will bring more kids, cars and a church into the neighbourhood.

Burnaby council gave preliminary approval last week to allow the construction of a multi-level parkade with space for 1,370 vehicles. The parkade will be located behind a five-storey apartment building with 45 suites and a four-storey building with 30 townhouse units, plus there will be a 49-space child-care centre on the roof.

Council also gave preliminary approval for Ellesmere United Church to move out of the Capitol Hill neighbourhood and reopen in UniverCity's signature Cornerstone building.

In an interview earlier this year, Rev. Douglas Throop of Ellesmere United said the decision to move the congregation onto Burnaby Mountain has been in the works for several years, part of a desire to better serve students at Simon Fraser University.

"This is a very courageous experiment," Throop said. "In the long- term, we'll see if we can build an interfaith space with other groups."

Given enough support, Throop said the development could eventually include a concert hall and art gallery, with views over Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm. "There would be nothing more inspiring in the whole country," Throop said. "That's my vision, but that may still be a ways down the road."

Throop said the interfaith aspect of the Burnaby Mountain church will be modelled after a United Church in Richmond that shares its space with a Jewish synagogue.

Council also received formal notice of the church's plan to sell the Capital Hill property that Ellesmere United has occupied for the past 50 years.

A report to council from the city's planning department notes that the redevelopment of the Capital Hill site would be preferable if the proponents were able to buy a neighbouring property, whose owner is currently unwilling to sell.

Throop noted that the Capital Hill neighbourhood will still be well served by the United Church, with three different congregations - Cliff Avenue, Willingdon Heights and Deer Lake - within reasonable distance.

Coun. Lee Rankin said that the mixed-use building, which will be located across the street from the proposed UniverCity elementary school, is a much better use of the Burnaby Mountain land, which was previously occupied by a large surface-area parking lot.

Water quality tops

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 5, 2006

Go ahead and drink the tap water - it's the best of its kind in the world.

That was the word from city council last week as they approved the 2005 annual drinking water quality report for Burnaby.

The 2.5-centimetre-thick document, which shows the results of 2,229 water sample test results taken from 60 different test locations in Burnaby, indicates that the overall quality of drinking water in the city continues to improve.

"We have amazingly good water quality," said Coun. Garth Evans, a lawyer who serves on the B.C. Medical Association's water quality subcommittee.

The biggest problem, according to Evans, is turbidity - defined as a sediment that clouds the water but does not necessarily impact human health - while the presence of E. coli and other contaminants that could affect human health were found to be "very low."

One small neighbourhood at the top of Centennial Way on Burnaby Mountain did not meet the minimum requirement for chlorine residual in their water - the Canadian standard calls for a minimum of 0.2 mg/ L - prompting council to approve the installation of an ultraviolet disinfectant system for the area.

The report stated that all the samples taken complied with the bacteriological water quality guidelines, and there were no fecal coliform found in any of the drinking water samples, said the report. While coliform were found in some of the filters used throughout the city, those areas had their water pipes immediately flushed and resampled.

Council was very happy with the report. Mayor Derek Corrigan, a former chair of the GVRD water board, said water quality in the Lower Mainland will only continue to improve after the $600 million Seymour filtration system is operational in two years.

And Coun. Lee Rankin had said the Lower Mainland's water is so good, that there's no reason for anyone to drink bottled water. "My advice is to save those bottles and fill them up with tap water," Rankin said. "Do that, and you're actually protecting your health."

Kushiro trip sparks debate, again

Council briefs by Dan Hilborn
Published July 1, 2006

The fight over Burnaby's planned visit to sister city Kushiro, Japan next month took on a decidedly more heated tone in the council chambers on Monday night.

Coun. Gary Begin, who said he has supported the city's participation in sister city visits for the past 25 years, expressed concern as council voted to send five city managers on the trip and to have those costs charged back to their departmental budgets.

"Why are we taking a portion of this and running it through their departmental budgets?" asked Begin, who said he's never seen anything like this on the three earlier sister city visits he participated in during his many years of service on Burnaby council and school board. "If we believe in this, let's have it all together.

"I just think it doesn't look good," Begin said.

Those comments raised the ire of Mayor Derek Corrigan, who noted that all of the costs for the Kushiro trip will be made public.

"As long as the numbers are available, what is the problem?" Corrigan asked. "You're welcome to the numbers. ... Add them up and put them in the paper."

Contacted on Wednesday morning, city clerk Debbie Comis confirmed that the final costs for sending the a 33-member delegation overseas for the nine-day trip will be made available after all the receipts, invoices and other expenditures are tabulated.

A report approved by council on April 24 set the total price of the Kushiro trip at $45,350 for airfare, accommodation, transportation, interpretive and travel services and official gifts, plus an estimated $15,000 for an official city reception.

Joining council members on the trip will be the five members of the management committee, three working staff people, a total of three school board representatives (of which, the city will only cover the costs of school board chair Ron Burton), the chair of the parks commission, two Japanese speaking citizens who assisted when a Kushiro delegation came to Burnaby last year, plus a professional interpreter, tour conductor and artists Barbara Wood, who created the pen, ink and watercolour landscape of Burnaby which will be the city's official gift to the city of Kushiro.

The costs of sending the managers on the trip was including in the original budget, Comis said.


Go ahead and drink the tap water - it's the best stuff in the world.

That was the word from city council on Monday night as they approved the 2005 annual drinking water quality report for Burnaby.

The 2.5-cm thick document, which shows the results of 2,229 water sample test results taken from 60 different test locations in Burnaby, indicates that the overall quality of drinking water in the city continues to improve.

"We have amazingly good water quality," said Coun. Garth Evans, a lawyer who serves on the B.C. Medical Association's water quality subcommittee.

The biggest problem, according to Evans, is turbidity - defined as a sediment which clouds the water, but does not necessarily impact human health - while the presence of E. coli and other contaminants that could affect human health were found to be "very low."

One small neighbourhood at the top of Centennial Way on Burnaby Mountain did not meet the minimum requirement for chlorine residual in their water - the Canadian standard calls for a minimum of 0.2 mg/ L - prompting council to approve the installation of an ultraviolet disinfectant system for the area.

The report stated that all the samples taken complied with the bacteriological water quality guidelines, and there were no fecal coliform found in any of the drinking water samples, said the report. While coliform were found in some of the filters used throughout the city, those areas had their water pipes immediately flushed and resampled.

Council was very happy with the report. Mayor Derek Corrigan, a former chair of the GVRD water board, said water quality in the Lower Mainland will only continue to improve after the $600 million Seymour filtration system is operational in two years.

And Coun. Lee Rankin had said the Lower Mainland's water is so good, that there's no reason for anyone to drink bottled water. "My advice is to save those bottles and fill them up with tap water," Rankin said. "Do that, and you're actually protecting your health."


Just call him the reluctant award winner.

Former Burnaby school teacher and war veteran Harry Pride was honoured by Burnaby's community heritage commission last Monday night for his volunteer work as editor of a new book that tells the story of one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city.

The Heritage Society of B.C. awarded of honour to the city's community heritage commission last month, and commission chair Coun. Colleen Jordan said it was only fitting to pass the honour on to Pride, who spearheaded the production of In The Shadow By The Sea, Recollections of Burnaby's Barnet Village.

But the 250-page book, which is now going into a second printing, was a true team effort, said Pride, who insisted he must "share the honours."

Among those who assisted with the book were Burnaby's heritage planner Jim Wolf, Shell Canada, which contributed $3,000 to print the book and distribute free copies to every school in the district, city staff who typeset, created graphics and printed the book, plus the estimated 125 former villagers who were interviewed or contributed their own stories to the document.

Pride noted that the publication of the book was so successful that it has prompted the former villagers to come together on July 23 for a reunion picnic. Among those who have kept in touch since the book was produced last year is former resident Bobby Johnston, who is now an 84 years old and living in South Africa.

"Mr. Pride wasn't anxious to have this honour bestowed on him," said Coun. Colleen Jordan, chair of the city's community heritage commission.

* * *
(As found on Canada Newstand)


The Burnaby traffic safety committee was kept busy last month as they worked on a series of minor road improvements intended to help reduce the carnage on city streets.

The most significant change was a recommendation that city council pay for the installation of a new 'linear delineation system' - reflectors - on the concrete crash barriers on three different sections of highway in the city.

A report from the city engineering department notes that the concrete barricades are often struck at night, and the city is left to foot the bill for replacing the barricades if the offending driver cannot be identified.

The new reflectors will be placed on a 750-metre section of Barnet Highway, a 450-m section of Gaglardi Way and along a 790-m stretch of Marine Way where collisions with the barricades have been a problem in the past.

ICBC has agreed to pay up to $39,000 for the purchase of the system, which they expect to recover in a fairly short period of time simply through a reduction in claims' costs. The city will install the devices using money from the city's engineering maintenance budget.

* The second major change was approval for a new temporary roundabout at Albert Street and Rosser Avenue, in an attempt to slow down the many drivers who currently ignore the existing four-way stop signs.

The temporary roundabout will be made of rubber, and can be installed for about $3,600. If successful, the roundabouts may also be used at a variety of other intersections in the residential neighbourhoods in the Heights.

* Council also approved a committee recommendation to allow the installation of a new bus stop on Patterson Avenue at Victory Street, as proposed by TransLink.

The neighbourhood had been without a northbound bus stop for six month as the committee and Translink reviewed a variety of requests from local homeowners about the best place to locate the bus stop.

* The final recommendation could be the most controversial of the bunch. Council has agreed to begin discussions with the Metrotown community police station about giving up their dedicated police- only parking spaces on Kingsborough Street, in front of the Crystal Mall, during peak weekend shopping hours.

A staff report also noted that there is a growing traffic congestion problem around the Mall, caused mostly y left-turning vehicles blocking the forward lanes of travel. The staff report also said the problems will probably lessen after the city installs a new westbound left-turn bay on Kingsway at MacKay Avenue at some unspecified time in the future.


Burnaby council has turned down a request from former Vancouver parks board chair Laura McDiarmid to give city residents more formal notice whenever new subdivisions are approved in their neighbourhoods.

A report from the city planning department said that Burnaby follows all of the rules when approving new subdivisions, and public notification is only issued in "exceptional circumstances" when there has been a change in policy.

In McDiarmid's case, the redevelopment of a nearby property was allowed under existing zoning bylaws, and no formal notification was required. At the June 12 council meeting, McDiarmid said she receives "five letters" from Vancouver city hall whenever any new development occurs near her condo in Kitsilano.

Council also turned down McDiarmid's request for financial assistance in rebuilding a dilapidated fence on her property that was left exposed when the neighbouring lot was cleared of trees to make room for the new subdivision.


The Boardwalk Gaming Centre in Highgate Village has cleared the final hurdle in its plan to open a new 85-seat liquor lounge including a 16-seat patio.

Council will inform the provincial liquor control and licensing branch that it has no objections to the lounge and patio, which received final rezoning approval last month.

But the city has imposed several restrictions on the patio, based on comments received during a Feb. 21 public hearing. Liquor can only be served on the patio from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily, the area must be completed vacated and locked by 10 p.m., and it cannot have any music or amplification at any time.

Council approved the recommendations without comment at its June 19 meeting.

More than six years after the first complaint was received at city hall, Burnaby council has given its engineering department the authority to enter the property at 5350 Parker Street and clean up a growing collection of accumulated building materials, yard waste, household appliances and other debris.

While the property owners have made several attempts to do the clean-up themselves, the property is still deemed to be in violation of the city's unsightly premises bylaw, said a report received by council on Monday (June 19) night.

Staff estimate the clean-up will cost about $940, which will be charged to the homeowners, and added to their 2006 property tax bill if the sum is not paid by the end of the year.



Garbage is piling up near the bus stop at Marine Drive and Royal Oak, and at least one area resident thinks city hall should install a new litter receptacle.

Wayne Lutz has written to Burnaby city council calling for the installation of a new garbage can at his local bus stop, and to watch for the accumulation of discarded shopping carts.

City staff have agreed to monitor the situation, and will install a litter receptacle at the location "if warranted," said a memo presented to city council.


Bonny's Taxi has applied to the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board for a 5.77 per cent taxi cab rate increase to help offset the rising costs of fuel and insurance.

In a letter to city council, George Lapthorne, the director of operations for the largest cab company in the city, said the new rate increase will replace a 4.55 per cent temporary fuel surcharge that was recently granted.

A memo to council also indicated that city staff have no objections to the rate increase.


Cliff Avenue United Church is calling on the city of Burnaby to improve the level of service provided to the city's homeless population.

"Our congregation is concerned about the lack of a facility in Burnaby for homeless people in our midst," said a May 25 letter signed by Marie Kuhn, secretary to the official board of the church.

At a recent general meeting, the church congregation passed a resolution that calls on Burnaby to implement a comprehensive program to care for the homeless prior to the onset of winter.


There will be dancing, but it won't be all night long.

Romanoff's restaurant will be allowed to have "patron participation," but not an extension on its operating hours.

Those were the main points of letter from Cheryl Caldwell, deputy general manager of licensing and local government liaison for the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, sent to city council late last month.

MAY 29 stuff


A new traffic signal and larger left-hand turn bay is coming to the intersection of Marine Way and Nelson Avenue, after city council approved a series of financial manoeuvres to help pay for the project.

Although TransLink will eventually pay half of the total $1.7 million cost of the project, the city has will foot the entire bill until the work is complete, said a report received by council late last month.

The work will include an enlargement of the left-hand turn bay for traffic travelling from Marine Way onto Nelson, plus a new 'right-turn sweep' in the opposite direction.



The Whistler Water Company, which is located in Burnaby, has received preliminary approval from city council to add 'fortified flavoured soda,' also known as 'alcohol-infused beverages' to its product line.

The proposal, which has would add four new storage tanks and two loading bays to the building at the corner of Winston and Bainbridge, which is currently used by four different tenants, including the water bottling company.

When complete, the bottling of fortified beverages is expected to take up about 10 per cent of the company's production output, said a report from the city's planning department.

The rezoning will go to a public hearing in the city council chambers on June 27.


Ballard Power is adding about 73 square metres (760 sq.ft.) of extra space to the second floor of its sprawling headquarters in the Glenlyon business park, as the fuel cell production company begins to change its focus over the coming year.

The additional space will be used for an expansion of the laboratory, and will be built over space that is currently part of a mezzanine level.

The proposal was received at city hall just three weeks after Ballard CEO John Sheridan announced plans that the high tech energy company will begin to focus on manufacturing, sales and marketing rather than on its previous work in the fields of research and development.

Sheridan also announced that Ballard Power is committed to producing commercially viable fuel-cell technology for hydrogen- powered vehicles by 2010.

Liquor debate gets heated

Council briefs by Dan Hilborn
Published July 1, 2006

One of the most influential businessmen in the Lower Mainland is escalating his fight against Burnaby council's new liquor policy, which places stiff restrictions on the location of all new private and public liquor stores in the city.

John Teti, owner of the Shark Club Bar and Grill and chair of the Vancouver-based BarWatch program, says Burnaby residents are going to have a tougher time buying alcohol in the city because council is playing politics in its fight against the provincial Liquor Distribution Branch.

And in a blistering letter sent to council on June 13, Teti says that Mayor Derek Corrigan and the Burnaby Citizens' Association have consistently misrepresented the province's position on the future location of liquor stores in Burnaby.

"It was stated that the province is handing out liquor licences 'like candy' to their friends, and that this would lead (to) liquor stores popping up on every corner in the city," Teti wrote. "This is just not true."

Teti says he can prove there will be no proliferation of liquor stores in Burnaby, pointing to two factors:

* the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has posted a notice on its website advising that the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is "not accepting applications for new licensee retail stores at this time;" and

* there are currently only "two or three" outstanding liquor store licences already issued in Burnaby, and opening them would not qualify as a 'proliferation' of new liquor stores.

Of course, Teti himself has a vested interest in all this. He holds one of those private liquor store licences and is hoping to open his store in the Market Crossing shopping complex in the Big Bend. This is one of two locations where council wants to see a government-operated 'signature store' opened and, not surprisingly, Teti's application has been stuck in limbo.

"The fact is, at this point, the only people that are able and interested in opening private liquor stores in the two areas identified by council are private licence holders," Teti wrote. "And if we are not allowed to build our business in Burnaby, all it will mean are lost jobs and revenues for the community."

Normally, such criticism might not add up to much in the city council chambers, but the liquor store debate is beginning to show signs of a rift within the typically solid ranks of the Burnaby Citizens' Association and NDP.

At least one prominent BCA member was in the council chambers last month to lend his unspoken support to Bernie Kooner, owner of the Hop & Vine Pub, who is trying to move his private liquor store into Kensington Square - where council wants to see the other government-operated 'signature store' opened.

A much more vocal supporter of private liquor stores is former BCA executive member Cindy Burton, the ex-wife of school board chair Ron Burton, who is a private consultant working on behalf of Kooner's bid to relocate his private liquor store to Kensington Mall.

"I don't think the public cares if a liquor store is public or not, but I do think they care what the price is," Cindy Burton told the Burnaby NOW.


Adding fuel to the fire on the liquor store debate is Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard Lee, who has repeated his comments from last January that he still supports the reopening of a government liquor store at Kensington Plaza.

"Any liquor store would be fine, but I think the community is asking for a government liquor store," Lee told the Burnaby NOW. "There are no major liquor stores east of Willingdon."

Lee's comments are significant because they indicate that the debate over private and public liquor stores is not as simple as some politicians would like us to think.

The current lack of a liquor store in the Kensington Square neighbourhood could pose some serious problems for the BCA majority on city council if it weren't for one mitigating factor - the next civic election is still two-and-a-half years away.


There was a decidedly sombre atmosphere at the close of the June 19 council meeting when the passings of three women who played significant roles in the lives of city council members were honoured.

The mothers of councillors Lee Rankin and Pietro Calendino passed away earlier this month, as did Edna MacLean, the wife of former councillor and city freeman George MacLean.

Evelyn "Annie" Rankin was a lifelong social thinker and one of the key reasons why her son chose to enter politics. "No flowers or service by request," said her obituary in the Vancouver Sun. "Evelyn wanted you to remember her by giving someone a big hug and praying for world peace."

Rankin said his mother was well-cared-for by the staff at Burnaby Hospital during her last six weeks of life, and Mayor Derek Corrigan called her "one of the leading citizens in this community."

Eva Calendino, 94, was born in Mangone, Italy and became the mother of seven children, 17 grandchildren and 15 great- grandchildren. Her husband Guiseppe predeceased her in 1978.

"She was a loving mother who sacrificed herself for her family," said her son, who noted that his mother loved to take the bus downtown to go shopping, even though she did was not proficient in English.

Edna MacLean, 78, was described as the prime force behind her husband's involvement in politics, and an active member of the local PTA, Sunday school and girls' softball teams.


The owner of one of the busiest movie supply houses in Burnaby is considering a future in civic politics after he had a rather unhappy experience in the city council chambers recently.

Michael Kearne, owner operator of Holly North, a supplier of props, special effects and one of the most elaborate 'big-rain machines' in the industry, was livid after city council decided to place a new bus stop in front of his Patterson Avenue home last week.

"It's not the fact that my handicapped mother doesn't have parking anymore. It's the fact that they're agreeing with an unsafe situation," Kearne told the Burnaby NOW on Tuesday morning.

At issue was the placement of a new bus stop across the street from the entrance to the Ocean View cemetery, where traffic is already a concern for the neighbourhood.

Kearne said the small one-lane entrance and exit to the cemetery is already causing backlogs and danger on the street because long processions of cars entering the site have to wait for any vehicles that are exiting the property. During the Father's Day weekend, Kearne said traffic on the street was completely blocked by a 20- vehicle lineup waiting to get into the cemetery.

The bus stop will decrease visibility, and increasing the odds of an accident. Council sided with a Coast Mountain bus company request to have the bus stop placed on the north 'far' side of the intersection.

"It almost makes me want to run (for city council)," Kearne said. "(Mayor Derek) Corrigan's done a lot of good things for the city, but this isn't one of them."


Kudos to the B.C. Liberals for backing down on two contentious proposals that may have prevented the public from knowing the complete results of public inquiries, and kept secret many of the details of future public-private business partnerships.

Proposed changes to the Public Inquiry Act that were introduced in the legislation on April 24 have been withdrawn, and they will probably will not return in the same form, said Darrell Evans, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

"It was pure political cynicism," Evans said about the two proposals that were retracted last month by government House leader Mike De Jong.

The most alarming of the proposals would have seen the final report of all future public inquiries delivered to the minister who called the inquiry, instead of being presented to the legislature in general. "That would have taken the public out of public inquiry," Evans said.

The proposals also drew the ire of B.C. Information Commissioner David Loukidelis and Liberal MLA Blair Lekstrom. But in a brief conversation with the Burnaby NOW prior to the retraction of the proposals, Evans said that the public has yet to grasp the full implication of our freedom of information and privacy laws.

"It's not like the public is crying out for reform," he said. "For people who follow these things professionally, it's a different matter, but ... all I know is it's hard to get through."

Union to get raise

By Dan Hilborn
Published July 1, 2006

Unionized housekeepers, laundry and dietary service workers at the Normanna rest home in Burnaby and the Evergreen Baptist Home in White Rock will receive wage increases of up to 24 per cent over the next two years, thanks to a B.C. Labour Relations Board arbitrator's ruling handed down this week.

Arbitrator Brian Foley announced on Monday that he will uphold the terms of a mediated agreement reached in April after more than a year of negotiations between the Hospital Employees' Union and the Canadian division of U.K.-based Compass Group.

"The 24 per cent may sound like a lot - and it is if you're making $9.86 an hour - but it says something about what's happening to the labour market and health care," said Mike Old, spokesperson for the Hospital Employees' Union. "We've had a very difficult time getting Compass to negotiate, so this is a pretty positive development for our members."

The agreement, which translates into pay raises of up to $2.32 an hour for some of the workers, is the same one that union members voted 100 per cent in favour of when it was first recommended by the mediator in April. At the time, the proposal was rejected by the company.

Brenda Brown, vice-president of human resources for Compass's Canadian head office, said on Wednesday that the company is reviewing the LRB ruling and has no further comment at this time.

"At this point we're reviewing the decision and we're not making a decision as to what we're going to do," Brown said. "We're reviewing our options."

The settlement, which is retroactive to May 1, 2006, gives HEU members at the two facilities immediate pay raises of between $1 and $1.32 an hour, and a further $1 an hour increase on Jan. 1, 2007. The proposal also includes lump sum payments, shift differential premiums and transportation allowances.

The contract is in line with the wages paid by Compass's major competitors - Aramark and Sodexho - and comes as the HEU continues its negotiations on behalf of more than 1,000 Compass dietary and housekeeping workers in the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

The union is hoping the award will encourage the company to adopt a more 'realistic bargaining position' in its negotiations for the other contracts, said an HEU press release.

"Compass needs to look beyond the bottom line and take its responsibilities to B.C. patients and workers more seriously," HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy said in a prepared statement.

Those further contract talks between the HEU and Compass broke off last week, and the union is now seeking a strike mandate.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blaze reveals grow ops

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 28, 2006

There was a pungent smell over the Metrotown neighbourhood on Monday afternoon after a fire broke out in an apartment building where six different marijuana grow operations were discovered.

Assistant fire chief George Whitehurst said one of the scariest aspects of the fire in the 6600 block of Telford Avenue was a report that several residents may have been trapped on the upper floor of the three-storey wood frame building.

"I sent a fire crew in to investigate and they found everyone was accounted for," Whitehurst said. "It had a lot more potential than what actually transpired."

Whitehurst credited the fast work of the Burnaby firefighters in knocking down the two-alarm blaze in the unsprinklered building.

"With all the heavy smoke, it was hard to tell which suites were involved," Whitehurst said.

Firefighters entered the building from a balcony on the front side of the building, and successfully pushed the fire out the back balcony of the suite in question.

Debbie Clyne, the emergency social services coordinator for the city, said approximately 55 residents were displaced by the fire, and the majority are expected to be able to return home within the next few days.

Only two of the building's 42 suites were heavily damaged by the fire and may not be reoccupied for some time, Clyne said.

Bridge project under fire

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 28, 2006

In a decision that should surprise nobody, Burnaby city council formally voted against the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge on Monday night while calling on the provincial government to conduct more thorough environmental reviews of the proposed $3-billion Gateway transportation infrastructure program.

In a split decision that saw the three Team Burnaby members of council voting in opposition, council approved a nine-part decision that supports construction of the North and South Fraser perimeter roads while calling on the Ministry of Transportation to look at options other than twinning the Port Mann Bridge and widening Highway No. 1 through Burnaby.

"Just look at the news today," Volkow said as he kicked off an hour-long debate on the Gateway project. "We have the first air quality alert of the year in the GVRD and we don't even have a twinned Port Mann Bridge."

Volkow, a truck driver, pointed to a 35-page Burnaby planning department report that indicates the Gateway proposal will lead to traffic volume increases of at least 10 per cent on more than a dozen city streets.

The city report also indicated that the long-term impacts of the Gateway proposal have not been fully investigated, and called for a variety of environmental reviews before construction begins.

"This opposition to the Port Mann/Highway 1 component of the Gateway program reflects the firm view that the proposal works against the adopted common objectives for regional growth management and shaping, as set out in the Livable Region Strategic Plan and Transport 2021," said the report prepared by retiring Burnaby planning director Jack Belhouse. "Furthermore it is considered to have many negative implications for the city."

The report says Gateway is "in violation" of four key aspects of the Livable Region plan: protecting the green zone; building complete communities; achieving a compact metropolitan region; and increasing traffic choice.

Volkow also indicated that the new federal government may not be completely on-side with the province's plan to twin the Port Mann Bridge, and noted that David Emerson, the federal minister responsible for Gateway, has stated that the Ottawa's main concern with any future transportation improvements in the Lower Mainland is in the movement of goods.

"The Port Mann Bridge is all about commuter traffic, and the federal government isn't interested in that," Volkow said, raising the spectre that Ottawa may not contribute its full share of funding. "We'll be paying for it for years to come."

Volkow said that Burnaby has already done its "fair share" in helping to move commuter traffic through the suburbs into Vancouver, and pointed to the widening of the Barnet Highway in the mid-1990s, the new HOV lanes on Willingdon and the opening of Southridge Drive as examples of the city's ability to cooperate in the regional transportation plan.

Those arguments had little impact on Coun. Garth Evans, who said twinning the bridge and widening the highway are a vital aspects of ensuring that B.C. has a vibrant economy in the years to come.

Pointing to the fact that the current Port mann ridge was built in 1963 when the population of the region was just 700,000, Evans said the region's population is now 2.1 million and the transportation infrastructure has simply not kept up with the pace.

"We are not talking about adding infrastructure to allow more urban sprawl, we are talking about adding infrastructure to deal with the growth that has already taken place."

While Evans supports the twinning of the bridge, he also agreed with council's BCA majority that a new bridge must have an HOV lane, a bus lane, priority for commercial vehicles and a graduated toll designed to limit traffic during peak periods.

Coun. Dan Johnston voted against the twinning of the bridge, and said that the similar infrastructure projects in Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles indicate that highway widening plans typical result in increased traffic congestion instead of less.

Johnston said a wider highway will only take people off public transit, such as the planned Evergreen rapid transit line to Coquitlam, while increasing pollution in the Fraser Valley.

"What we're doing is making it easier for people in the valley to come into Burnaby and Vancouver, to the detriment of the people living in Burnaby and Vancouver," Johnston said.

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said his main concern is the possible impact the Gateway project could have on the environment, in particular Burnaby Lake regional park and other nature reserves near the highways, such as Deas Island and Burns Bog.

Instead of twinning the bridge, Dhaliwal suggested the province look at several suggestions in a recent Suzuki Foundation report on the Gateway project such as the construction of new park and ride facilities on the south side of the Fraser River, while adding more buses and SkyTrain cars to the transit system.

Coun. Colleen Jordan said she has received more e-mails and phone messages about on the Gateway project than on any other topic since she was elected three years ago, and people are becoming frustrated by the province's refusal to answer question about the impact on the project.

"We get no answer except from the minister, Mr. (Kevin) Falcon, saying it will be done," Jordan said.

Coun. Pietro Calendino said he is concerned about the cost of the Gateway program. "I'm sure it will be $5 or $6 billion by the time they're through," he said.

And Mayor Derek Corrigan dismissed arguments that Burnaby council was simply trying to score political points by voting against the B.C. Liberal's bridge twinning plan. As proof, Corrigan pointed to his record as a former chair of TransLink when he supported a light rail transit line between Coquitlam and the University of B.C. instead of the Millennium SkyTrain plan that was built by the former NDP government.

"We've done our part," Corrigan said. "Burnaby has been a good municipal citizen in accepting our part in moving traffic through our borders.

Corrigan said he would have been willing to go through a true public consultation process with the province over the Gateway plan, but instead, what he's seen is an announcement from the minister followed by a flurry of bureaucratic report writing in an attempt to back up the minster's plans.

Corrigan also noted that at the last week's World Urban Forum held in Vancouver, a petition in opposition to the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge was signed by more than 200 planners from around the world.

Speaking in favour of the bridge plan, Coun. Lee Rankin said that he has seen a lot of growth in the region since he was the lone member of council to vote against the widening of Highway 1 through Burnaby during the mid-1990s, when it was proposed by then-NDP premier Glen Clark.

Since that time, council has approved major development projects such as a big box shopping complex in the Big Bend, without approving the highway infrastructure to make it easier for people to travel around the region, Rankin said.

"The business community cannot understand Burnaby's position," Rankin said. "We're talking about accommodating the growth that's already in the plans and that are already adopted."

City to host public forums on Gateway impact

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 28, 2006

Burnaby city council will be giving the public an opportunity this fall to speak up and ask questions about the controversial $3- billion Gateway highway infrastructure plan.

Coun. Nick Volkow has called on city staff to organize two public meetings for September - one each in north and south Burnaby - to discuss plans to twin the Port Mann Bridge and widen Highway 1 through Burnaby.

"There is a lot of confusion on the issue, and disgruntled residents don't feel they've been given the opportunity to ask questions," said Volkow, who chairs the city's traffic and transportation and traffic safety committees.

While the exact meeting dates have not been set, Volkow indicated that the main themes of the meeting will be the direct impact of the proposals on Burnaby streets.

According to a planning department report approved by city council on Monday night, the Gateway plan is expected to increase traffic by more than 10 per cent on more than a dozen Burnaby roads.

Those affected roads include portions of: Gilmore Avenue, Sanderson Way, Willingdon Avenue, Canada Way, Wayburne Street, Sprott Street, Norland Avenue, Kensington Avenue, Broadway, Burris Street, Bainbridge Avenue, Government Street and Gaglardi Way.

The meeting is expected to discuss a 13-point rebuttal to the Gateway project also approved by council this week.

That report recommends that if the province does proceed with the Port Mann/Highway 1 proposal, that it include:

* no increase in general purpose lanes on the bridge or highway, and that all new lanes be dedicated to transit, high-occupancy vehicles and/or commercial vehicles.

* using tolls to manage congestion and shape transportation demand;

* that Transportation Demand Management measures (tolls) operate in perpetuity, not just for the time needed to pay for the project;

* that the province pay for any municipal road upgrades that are needed as a result of the Gateway project;

* that ease of access and egress to and from commercial and industrial areas be maintained or enhanced;

* avoid any increased intrusion of through traffic in residential areas;

* bike lanes in both directions on all freeway crossings, plus urban trails as outlined in Burnaby's official community plan to be funded by the project;

* that cycling and pedestrian lanes use be provided on the Port Mann Bridge;

* that the stated $50 million budget for cycling facilities be the lower limit of this investment;

* that the project redress negative environmental impacts of noise, habitat, water quality, and water table changes arising from the earlier six-laning of the freeway as well as any new impacts from the current project;

* that impacts on Burnaby watercourses as a result of the project be mitigated; and

* that capital funding for the Evergreen rapid transit line be consistent with earlier agreements for the original SkyTrain Expansion Cost Sharing Agreement.

Councillors report expenses

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 24, 2006

The mayor of Burnaby brought home almost $130,000 in wages, benefits and travel allowances last year, according to the most recent council indemnity report presented to city council on June 19.

Derek Corrigan received $88,410.16 in total indemnity (wages), another $11,068.47 in benefits, $10,468.87 in automobile allowances, $3,717.08 in cellphone, fax and Internet expenses, plus $13,899.27 in travel expenses to seven different conferences.

His travel expenses covered trips to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities directors' meeting in Whistler ($1,002), a Mayors for Peace conference in New York City ($3,102.85), the municipal federation conference in St. John's, Nfld. ($3,966.40), the World Police and Fire Games in Quebec ($1,537.81), another federation directors' meeting in P.E.I. ($3,277.48), the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver ($358.45) and a federation conference in Ottawa ($654.28).

His total remuneration was more than double the amount paid out to any of the city councillors, who received up to $39,293.18 for a full term in office. Some of the councillors received slightly more or less in their indemnity because of last fall's civic election when councillors Doug Evans and Celeste Redman retired and were replaced by Gary Begin and Garth Evans.

When the city councillors' total wages, benefits and expenses are combined, rookie Sav Dhaliwal brought home the highest total of $54,067.44, made up of $3,538.65 in benefits, $3,489.26 in phone costs, travel expenses to three municipal federation meetings and the B.C. municipalities' convention.

The councillor with the second greatest total remuneration was Nick Volkow, who received a total $51,805.30, followed by Dan Johnston at $51,119.45, Lee Rankin at $49,837.05, Pietro Calendino at $49,607.46 and Colleen Jordan at $46,927.92.

Redman and Doug Evans, who each served 11 months in office prior to the election, received $46,822.01 and $42,201.81 respectively.

Begin and Garth Evans, who served one month apiece after the election, received totals of $3,967.14 and $3,848.15 respectively.

All city council members are provided with Blackberry telephone/e-mail devices, although Jordan did not submit an expense sheet for her phone costs. Only the mayor receives a vehicle allowance.

The councillor who did the least amount of travel last year was Calendino, who was reimbursed $589.89 for the B.C. municipalities' convention in Vancouver. The councillor with the most travel was Dhaliwal, who was reimbursed $7,095.91 for trips to Newfoundland, P.E.I., Whistler and Vancouver.

City council typically revisits its indemnity rate each August, when an appointed panel of three community representatives looks at a variety of factors, such as the consumer price index, B.C.'s average wage increases and pay rates for city hall's unionized staff.

The committee then forwards a recommendation to city council for its approval and the indemnity rates are often made retroactive to the beginning of the year.

Discolouration raises alarm at Stoney Creek

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 24, 2006

A contractor drilling to find groundwater on Smith Avenue in Coquitlam was ordered to install new sediment control measures after being found responsible for a discolouration of water in Stoney Creek on Wednesday afternoon.

The discharge, which turned the salmon-bearing waterway into a milk-white stream for several hours, resulted in several complaints to the environmental health departments in both Burnaby and Coquitlam.

A subsequent investigation found there was no obvious effect on fish habitat, said Ken Wright, general manager of engineering and public works for the City of Coquitlam.

"Basically, it was sediment from the drilling operation," Wright said. "We've told them to get proper sedimentation measures in place, and that has been done."

Although Wright was able to confirm that the contractor was drilling for groundwater, he did not know if that work was on behalf of a private property developer or as part of the preconstruction phase of the new Evergreen rapid transit line, which is scheduled to open in late 2009.

Coquitlam staff were also unable to confirm reports that the sediment was accompanied by a chemical-like smell, which alerted at least one jogger to the discharge.

"We didn't see anything that would lead us to believe there was any kind of chemical in the area," Wright said. "The only thing was a drilling operation. ... There were no dead fish."

The Burnaby NOW was first alerted to the incident just before 4 p.m. Wednesday, when an anonymous caller reported a milk-white discharge was entering the creek from a culvert behind Rathburn Street.

When a reporter arrived on the scene within 10 minutes, the creek was still visibly discoloured but there was no smell.

Dipak Dattani, manager of environmental engineering in Burnaby, said his staff was able to confirm the discolouration of water but turned the investigation over to Coquitlam because that's where the discharge apparently came from.

"We have no jurisdiction in Coquitlam," Dattani said.

The caller said he was first alerted to the problem at about 3:15 p.m. when he was jogging alongside the creek on a trail near Burnaby Mountain secondary school and smelled something "like paint or thinner" coming from the creek.

After calling the authorities and taking staff from both Coquitlam and Burnaby city halls on a tour of the creek, the jogger then called the newspaper.

Industries worried about Riverbend Drive West plan

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 24, 2006

Property owners in one of the most heavily industrialized corners of the city are preparing to speak up against a city rezoning plan that could dramatically change the allowed uses of their land.

Mike Kask, operations manager of Burnco Rock Products, said the Riverbend Drive West plan could jeopardize a proposed $15-million concrete ready-mix on their waterfront property.

According to a report presented to city council on May 29, the city-initiated rezoning to a comprehensive development bylaw will make it more difficult to build on the land and could ultimately prohibit some of the historic uses of the property.

The bylaw covers a 38.3- hectare parcel of land in the southeast corner of the Big Bend district, which is currently home to the Montenay incinerator and steam power generating facility, the Norampac paper mill and related businesses, the Wigg Holdings roofing and warehousing operation and the Burnco lands.

Officials from Norampac and Burnco have both sent letters to city hall informing them of their opposition to the rezoning and their intention to speak up at a public hearing at Burnaby City Hall on Tuesday night.

"Our concern is that a rezoning of this land will unnecessarily add to the complexity for us to follow through with those plans, of which Burnaby council have approved the initial stages," said Scott Burns, president and owner of Burnco, in a press release.

And in a Wednesday morning interview conducted on Burnco's 7.7- hectare property, Kask said his company is perplexed by the city's decision to unilaterally change the zoning. "Burnco met with the city prior to purchasing this land and the city had agreed to our future plans," Kask said.

"To date, we've had a great relationship with Burnaby, but this brings an uncertainty for us. With the CD zoning, we're concerned we may not be able to follow through with our plan."

The Burnco property, sandwiched between the Schenker logistics terminals and Fraser Foreshore Park, has been owned by the Burns family of Calgary for the past four generations and is currently home to a two-year-old concrete ready-mix facility and an 80,000- square-foot warehouse which is leased to a rail-to-truck transshipment company.

One of the key aspects of the city rezoning proposal is confirmation of of the city's intention to provide "public access and enjoyment" to a 740-metre (2,482-foot) portion of the Fraser River foreshore.

Kask said Burnaby is not opposed to the city's plan to allow public access to the company's waterfront property, as long as Burnco retains the ability to unload barge shipments of aggregate on the site. He believes both proposals can move forward under the existing M3 heavy industrial district zoning bylaw.

In fact, Kask said the construction of the new ready-mix plant will bring positive environmental benefits to the city, simply by virtue of its central location, which will help cut down on the number of truck trips needed to deliver Burnco's concrete products to customers on the north side of the Fraser River.

The city rezoning bylaw could also cancel out the development application that the company has already submitted to the city planning department, at a cost in the "tens of thousands" of dollars.

Kask said the Burns family has owned the land for 92 years, and is serious about its responsibilities to the community and environment. "We're a solid corporate citizen focused on environmental sensitivity," he said.

If the company's redevelopment plan is approved, the new concrete plant could see Burnco more than double in size from its current capacity of 30 employees to at least 50 and possibly as many as 100 workers in the future.

"We'll be able to create a great amount of employment, and there will be no environmental concerns," Kask said.

The city's concerns are spelled out in the rezoning proposal, which was introduced to council on May 29 and given first reading on June 12. The report states, in part: "Staff would generally not be supportive of a 'business as usual' approach to development of the property for heavy industrial uses that relied on outside processing and storage of materials."

The city staff report also acknowledges that the bylaw will restrict the "nature, scale and extent" of future heavy industrial uses, while encouraging the development of "higher quality" amenities that contribute to he strength and diversity of the city's tax and employment base.

Council OK's plan for creek

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 21, 2006

After three years of study, the City of Burnaby has given preliminary approval to its vision for the Still Creek watershed, which is expected to reduce the amount of flooding in the city while improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

From Pipe Dreams to Healthy Streams: An integrated stormwater management plan for the Still Creek watershed, prepared by the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver with assistance from the GVRD and other partners, was approved by Burnaby city council on Monday night.

"Anyone who has driven through the Still Creek watershed has seen the flooding," said Coun. Dan Johnston, chair of Burnaby's environment committee. "This report is about slowing that water flow and returning some of the native vegetation to the habitat."

The report sets out eight goals for the future development of Still Creek and details more than 100 possible future 'action items' for the urban waterway.

The major stormwater management goals include reducing the impact of flooding on people and property while reducing stream erosion and downstream sedimentation.

The proposed environmental goals include protecting and enhancing streamside and aquatic habitats, protecting urban forest and terrestrial habitats, improving water quality, augmenting native species' biodiversity, connecting people with the watershed and its feeder streams and providing stream-related education.

Contacted after the meeting, Mark Angelo, head of the fish, wildlife and recreation program at BCIT, said he understands the need to focus on floodwater management in the Still Creek watershed before working on water quality improvements for fish.

"There is an emphasis on flood control, perhaps more than returning fish to the creek, but the two aspects are not mutually exclusive," said Angelo. "I think in this case you have to look at the two simultaneously."

Coun. Lee Rankin said the report takes a long-term view towards managing the creek.

"I don't think we can be under any kind of illusion that these type of watershed improvements are easy," Rankin said. "But I believe this is something that we can look forward to over the next 25 or 50 years."

Among the key recommendations is a proposal to designate the creek as a environmental flood channel zone to prevent the construction of new buildings in the flood zone or along the stream bank.

The city would also like to open a 'green corridor' along the creek, with an integrated network of trails, viewpoints and other recreational facilities to enhance the public enjoyment of Still Creek, its tributaries and Burnaby Lake.

Burnaby would also like to see the amount of 'hard surface area' in the watershed - concrete, asphalt, buildings or other non- permeable surfaces - reduced by 10 per cent by the year 2025.

Other possible environmental protections include the proposed use of aeration devices to improve oxygen levels in the creek during summertime.

Angelo said one of his key concerns is that the creek is eventually protected by either a 15- or 30-metre riparian zone.

"There is a push for a protected linear corridor," Angelo said. "As part of that, if we can maintain minimum riparian standards as opposed to hit and miss standards, that would be positive."

While the report stops short of setting minimum standards, Angelo said it does "a pretty good job" of striking a balance between flood control and fish enhancement.

"At the same time, I want to make sure that we do everything possible to make sure those development pressures are managed as best we can," he said. "When we first started working on Still Creek more than 30 years ago, it was perhaps the most polluted waterway in all of B.C. We've made some dramatic headway, but there's still more work to be done.

"When I look at Still Creek now there's certainly reason to be encouraged. My hope is that progress will continue I think if you look at all things together, this report strikes a pretty good balance. Certainly, I'd liked to have seen more focus on protecting fish habitat, but that said, we also understand some of the balances that have to be struck given those other concerns."

Legion tax hike resolved

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 21, 2006

Officials at the North Burnaby Legion are breathing a sigh of relief this week after a "computer error" almost left the association paying a staggering $18,117 property tax increase this year.

Sam Castagner, secretary and manager of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 148, said the tax hike, which has since been whittled down to a more manageable $7,000, serves as a reminder why so many Legion halls have been forced to close across Canada in the past few years.

"If our taxes continue to go up the way they have this year, we're probably not going to be able to stay in business," Castagner said Monday morning. "Lots of Legions have gone down because of this."

The Legion, which has been located at 4356 Hastings St. for the past 69 years, is considering a plan to ask Burnaby city hall for a formal property tax exemption to allow them to keep their doors open for the future.

Castagner said this year's large tax increase was caused by several factors, the most notable being a wholesale reassessment of the legion's property class from what was largely recreational use to its new assessment as business use.

The North Burnaby facility, which went from being worth $1.698 million last year to more than $2.1 million this year, saw a huge change in its usage classification. Last year, Legion No. 148 was deemed to have $993,000 in business use property and $553,000 in recreational use. This year, those numbers changed to $1.911 million for business use and only $152,000 in recreational uses.

Those numbers are important because businesses pay a much higher tax rate than recreational properties - $12.96 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to only $2.18 for recreational use, according to the 2006 Burnaby annual operating budget.

Other increases on the Legion's 2006 tax bill included an additional $1,250 in the Heights Business Improvement Area levy, plus a $591 increase for the new TransLink parking tax.

Castagner said the B.C. Assessment Authority quickly admitted it erred when it reclassified the Legion's property to a largely business use.

"It was a computer error, I was told," Castagner said, adding that the correction was made within one week of the original complaint being filed on May 29.

Now, the North Burnaby Legion is in the early stages of working with two other Royal Canadian Legion properties in Burnaby - Branch No. 48 on Grimmer Street and the TB Vets' facility on Graveley Street - to formally obtain an exemption from paying property taxes, Castagner said.

She noted that at least one Legion hall in the Fraser Valley already has tax exempt status, as does the Legion in York, Ont., where federal NDP member Jack Layton is a member.

In addition, property tax increases were the primary reason why Legion No. 48 at Kingsway and Joyce was forced to close in the past few years, she added.

The North Burnaby Legion currently has almost 800 members, Castagner said, and makes most of its money from its licensed lounge, which has one of the few Workers' Compensation Board- approved smoking rooms in the region.

Branch No. 148 also donates approximately $30,000 each year from its poppy drive to local charities, while their daily meat draws are used to fund scholarships and donations to the local hospital, Christmas Bureau and sports teams.

Castagner said the spirit of giving is one of the main reasons why the Royal Canadian Legion exists today.

"The Legion originally started as a service organization for veterans coming back from the First World War," Castagner said. "Back in those days, few wives had a bank account, and if something happened to the husband, the wife was penniless until they straightened things out at the bank.

"The Legion started out a benevolent fund for the widows, and then they decided to do more. Basically, to help families who are destitute and to provide services."

She noted that the Lower Mainland Legions helped start up the New Chelsea Housing Society which today runs seven different facilities in the region, including several in Burnaby.

Castagner also said she is averse to the suggestion that the Legion might have to move if its property taxes become too high in the Heights, and she points to the recent history of the New Westminster branch as an example of what can go wrong once a non- profit association starts speculating on real estate.

The New Westminster Legion, Branch No. 2, which was forced out of its original location to make way for the construction of the first SkyTrain line, has moved two times in the past two decades and only recently settled down in its current location on Sixth Street.

"If we were going to sell this, where would we go?" Castagner asked. "Our members all live in this community, and we've been established since 1937, so you can't just pull up your roots and move to Coquitlam."

One thing that would help the Legion stay put would be a substantial increase in membership, Castagner said.

"If we get the people, we'll get the money," she said. "We have live bands on Friday and Saturday, meat draws every day plus karaoke and darts and crib and air conditioning."

Library board reports to council

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 21, 2006

Residents of B.C. will soon have the opportunity to take a book out of any civic library in the province and then return it to the library closest to their home.

The provincial one-card system is already operating throughout the Lower Mainland and should be in place provincewide by September, said Edel Toner-Rogala, Burnaby's chief librarian, as the Burnaby Public Library presented its annual report to city council on Monday night.

"You'll be able to take out a book while you're visiting family in Kelowna or on a break on Vancouver Island," Toner-Rogala said. "And you won't have to worry about returning the book to the library you borrowed it from."

The new system uses a unique red library card with a 14-digit bar card that gives each city or municipality its own code. Funding to return the books to the lending library is being made available by the provincial government.

The new library card was one of the few recent changes in the library that was not highlighted in Burnaby library board's four- page annual report, published in last weekend's Burnaby NOW.

Sharon Freeman, the outgoing chair of the library board, said the library is now beginning a "comprehensive community needs assessment" that will set the direction for the library for the coming years. In addition, the library is will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall.

Freeman also encouraged the public to get involved by joining the library board.

Fire station moves ahead

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 14, 2006

A new $8.3-million, energy-efficient Fire Station 7 will be built at the corner of Gilmore Avenue and Norfolk Street after city council approved a preliminary design and project budget on Monday night.

The new fire hall has been on the drawing board for more than 10 years and is intended to improve fire service on the west side of town, around Burnaby Hospital. Construction is scheduled to start next year.

Described as a 'post-disaster three-bay drive-through,' the new hall will accommodate 16 firefighters and may include such green features as stormwater management and treatment, use of non-potable (grey) water for toilets and truck-washing, low-water-consumption fixtures and an alternate roof system that reduces heat gain.

If approved, those extra environmental features would cost about $209,000 and give the new fire hall a silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines. Council has directed the consultants on the project to investigate whether grant money is available to cover the costs of those extra features.

The budget also includes more than $1 million for contingencies, another $834,184 for off-site construction and $517,000 for consulting fees.

In a separate report, council also agreed to spend $160,500 on a new emergency generator for Fire Station 3, on Marlborough Avenue near Metrotown. The new generator will be able to provide 100 per cent of the station's power needs, compared to the current generator's capacity of only 50 per cent, said a report to council.

Hospital expands maternity clinic

By Dan Hilborn
Published June 14, 2006

An expanded maternity clinic at Burnaby Hospital is making it easier for local parents to have their baby born close to home.

Dr. Joan Holman, one of seven general practitioners who work in the recently expanded clinic, said two new examination rooms and a larger reception area should help encourage more women to have their babies born in Burnaby.

"Basically what we're about is streamlined access to high-quality maternity care in a family-centred community hospital," Holman said. "This is about making access easy and keeping people close to home, if that's where they want to be."

The expansion will allow another 200 births per year at Burnaby Hospital and is part of a plan to stem the tide of women who head to Vancouver to give birth.

Statistics indicate that up to 800 women who live in Burnaby give birth in other hospitals, most notably Royal Columbian and B.C. Women's and Children's, Holman said.

Burnaby Hospital has traditionally had about 1,400 childbirths per year.

The changes are also intended to give the Burnaby Hospital maternity ward a friendlier feeling.

"We've got nice, airy, bright rooms that are large and can accommodate a whole family," Holman said. "The goal is to make the facility available for everyone who wants to come."

Another reason for the expansion comes from the simple fact that fewer family practitioners deliver babies now. Although there are more than 50 family doctors who practise in Burnaby, only about a dozen of those doctors still perform deliveries, Holman said.

Women who choose to give birth at the clinic will have the services of specially trained doctors and nurses, in addition to the benefit of specialist referrals, dietitians, lactation consultants and diabetes education, Holman said.

The expansion, which opened on June 5, is already busier than expected. In its first four days of operation, the new clinic had nine new clients, all of whom are expected to give birth in Burnaby, Holman said.

"We're off to a good start," she said.

Expectant mothers who want to have their baby born at Burnaby Hospital should contact their referring physician or the clinic, preferably before the 12th week of pregnancy.

* Open House: The new maternity clinic is opening its doors to the public today and twice a month into the foreseeable future. Today's open house runs from 6 to 8 p.m., on the fifth floor of the west wing of Burnaby Hospital, 3935 Kincaid St.

Other open houses are held on two Thursdays each month. For more information, contact the clinic at 604-431-2822.