In early May, the City of Burnaby announced its intentions of building a new City Hall, which would replace the existing building at 4949 Canada Way, originally built in 1955. On Wednesday, the City quietly revealed three potential locations for the new City Hall build as it launched a public input period for the project.
The existing City Hall building "lacks sustainability and inclusivity provisions," the City says, and would need "significant upgrades" to meet current building code standards, something the City estimates would come at a cost of approximately $70M. Additionally, staff are spread out across five buildings (gradually added as Burnaby grew), and a new City Hall would consolidate all administrative staff into a single location.
Little-to-no other details were revealed prior to Wednesday, except that the City had identified the Metrotown area of Burnaby as the preferred location, as it is also designated as a "regional city centre" under Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy (and is home to the offices of Metro Vancouver).
Burnaby Public Library and Civic Square
The first option for a new City Hall is the 4.4-acre site currently home to the Metrotown location of the Burnaby Public Library (also known as Bob Prittie Metrotown Public Library) at 6100 Willingdon Avenue -- a fairly large site surrounded by a sizeable park-like greenspace. The location is along Central Boulevard and would be directly across the street from Metrotown Station.
The concept for the site entails the new City Hall building and the library placed on the northern edge of the site, directly across the street from Crystal Mall, and could potentially include the redevelopment of the library with new civic facilities and amenities.
The Burnaby Public Library site and design concept. (City of Burnaby)
Firefighters Public House
The second location is the vacant building on 6515 Bonsor Avenue that formerly housed the Burnaby Firefighter's Public House, a pub and banquet hall owned by The Firefighters #314 Holding Society -- a group of active and retired Burnaby and Vancouver firefighters.
The 12,900-sq.-ft site is by far the smallest of the three options, and would require "a creative design approach," the City says. That could potentially involve "a much taller building than at the other sites," atop a podium, and could result in less on-site parking and fewer opportunities for new amenities.
The Firefighter's Public House site and design concept. (City of Burnaby)
The third and final potential location is the 3.7-acre site currently occupied by the Bonsor Recreation Complex as well as several outdoor fields. This site is dedicated parkland, which means the portion of the site that would be used for the new City Hall building would need to be un-dedicated through a referendum process that would need public support.
The City says that if this site is chosen, the project could involve the redevelopment of the Bonsor complex, with the new building and new City Hall at the centre of the site, surrounded by reconfigured sports fields, with the existing skate park and South Burnaby Cenotaph unaffected.
The Bonsor Park site and design concept. (City of Burnaby)
All three locations are currently owned by the City of Burnaby and are all close to the Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall and sit along or near Central Boulevard, one of major arterial roads in the area. While the northern side of Central Boulevard is home to multiple shopping centres -- Crystal Mall and Station Square as well as Metropolis -- the southern side of Central Boulevard is a hotbed of residential development, with multiple high-rises buildings and more on the way.
Overview of the Metrotown area and three potential sites for the new City Hall. (City of Burnaby)
The Brentwood area of Burnaby has somewhat overtaken the Metrotown area in recent years in terms of urban development, but the relocation of City Hall would likely shift a lot of attention back to Metrotown.
According to the City, the existing City Hall was built when the population of Burnaby was around 75,000. As of 2021, the population has ballooned to nearly 250,000 and there is no reason to expect that growth to stop considering the high levels of residential development Burnaby has seen, even just in the last few years.
"The new City Hall will be a significant investment in our community and will enhance the civic heart of Burnaby’s true downtown," said Mayor Mike Hurley in early May. "We are committed to building a new facility that reflects the diversity of our community -- a place that is safe, inclusive and welcoming to people from all walks of life."
The City of Burnaby is hosting two open houses for the project where residents can learn about the sites and share their thoughts. Both will be held at Bonsor, on Tuesday, June 13 and Tuesday, June 27, from 5 pm to 8:30 pm and do not require registration. Residents can also answer an online survey from now until Friday, July 7.