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Burnaby, British Columbia

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Burnaby, British Columbia, is a city immediately east of Vancouver. It was incorporated in 1892 and achieved City status in 1992, one hundred years after incorporation. It is the seat of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

Contents

History

In the first 30 to 40 years after its incorporation, the growth of Burnaby was influenced by its location between expanding urban centres of Vancouver and New Westminster. It first served as a rural agricultural area supplying nearby markets. Later, it served as an important transportation corridor between Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the interior of the Province, as well as one of the first-tier bedroom community suburbs of Vancouver itself, along with North Vancouver and Richmond.

At incorporation, the municipality's citizens unanimously chose to name it after legislator, speaker, Freemason and explorer, Robert Burnaby, who had been private secretary to Colonel Richard Moody, British Columbia's land commissioner in the mid-1800s. In 1859, Mr. Burnaby had surveyed the freshwater lake near what is now the city's geographical centre; Moody chose to name it Burnaby Lake.

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Aerial view of Metrotown and central Burnaby from the south, with Burrard Inlet and North Vancouver beyond.

Geography and Land Use

Burnaby occupies 98.60 square kilometers (38.07 square miles) and is located at the geographical centre of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Situated between the City of Vancouver on the west and Port Moody, Coquitlam and New Westminster on the east, the City is further bounded by Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River on the North and South respectively. Burnaby, Vancouver and New Westminster collectively occupy the major portion of the Burrard Peninsula. The elevation of Burnaby ranges from sea level to a maximum of 1,200 feet (370 metres) atop Burnaby Mountain. Overall, the physical landscape of Burnaby is one of hills, ridges, valleys and an alluvial plain. The land features and their relative locations have had an influence on the location, type and form development in the City.

Burnaby is a maturing, increasingly integrated community, which is centrally located within a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Burnaby's characteristic has shifted from rural to suburban to largely urban. Still, Burnaby's ratio of park land to residents is one of the highest in North America, and it maintains some agricultural land, particularly along the Fraser foreshore flats in the Big Bend neighbourhood along its southern perimeter.

Transportation

The Vancouver SkyTrain rapid transit system crosses Burnaby from east to west in two places: in the south along the Expo Line (completed in 1986) and in the middle along the Millennium Line(completed in 2001). The SkyTrain has encouraged closer connections to New Westminster, Vancouver, and Surrey, as well as dense urban development at Lougheed Town Centre on the city's eastern border, at Brentwood Town Centre in the centre-west, and most notably at Metrotown in the south.

Major north-south streets crossing the City include Boundary Road, Willingdon Avenue, Royal Oak Avenue, Sperling Avenue, Gaglardi Way, and North Road. East-west routes linking Burnaby's neighbouring cities to each other include Hastings Street and the Barnet Highway, Lougheed Highway, Kingsway (which follows the old horse trail between Vancouver and New Westminster), and Marine Drive/Marine Way. Douglas Road, which used to cross the city from northwest to southeast, has largely been absorbed by the Trans-Canada Highway and Canada Way. Since the 1990s, Burnaby has developed a network of cycling trails. It is also well served by Greater Vancouver's bus system, run by the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a division of TransLink.

People and Politics

While Burnaby occupies about 4 percent of the land area of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, it accounted for about 10% of the Region's population in 2001. It is the third most populated urban centre in British Columbia (after Vancouver and Surrey) with an estimated population of 197,292. Like much of Greater Vancouver, Burnaby has always had large ethnic and immigrant communities: to cite two examples, North Burnaby near Hastings Street has long played host to many Italian restaurants and recreational bocce games, while Metrotown's ever-sprouting condominium towers in the south have been fueled in part by more recent arrivals from China, Hong Kong, and the former Yugoslavia.

Politically, Burnaby has maintained a centre-left city council (which recently completely eliminated the City's debt) and school board for many years, while sometimes electing more conservative legislators provincially (for the Social Credit and BC Liberal parties) and federally (for the Reform, Alliance, and Conservative parties). Its longest-serving politician had been Svend Robinson of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Canada's first openly homosexual member of Parliament, but after 25 years and seven elections he resigned his post in early 2004 after stealing and then returning an expensive ring. Burnaby voters endorsed his assistant, Bill Siksay, as his replacement in the spring 2004 Canadian federal election. In the May 2005 provincial election, residents of the city sent a mix of BC Liberal and NDP representatives to the British Columbia legislature.

Industry and Economy

Major technology firms such as Electronic Arts, Creo, and Ballard Power Systems base their operations in Burnaby; heavy industry includes Chevron Corporation and Petro-Canada petroleum refineries on the shores of Burrard Inlet. The City features high density residential areas, major commercial town centres, rapid transit, high technology research and business parks, movie and TV studio facilities, comprehensive industrial estates, and major post-secondary institutions, including Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Symbols

Burnaby's official flower is rhododendron.

Reference

North: North Vancouver
West: Vancouver Burnaby East: Port Moody, Coquitlam
South: Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey
de:Burnaby (Britisch Columbia)
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