Burnaby council members have put a decision on the design of a pedestrian bridge over Highway 1 on hold until more detailed information can be presented as councilors and the mayor is not d agreement on the options which could cost between 10 and 30 million dollars.

In August 2021, Burnaby North-Seymour MPP Terry Beech announced $6.8 million in funding for the construction of a pedestrian and cycling overpass to connect Burnaby Lake Regional Park and Deer Lake .

But for the city to receive the grant, the project must be completed by March 2026.

At the January 24 council meeting, city staff recommended that council allow staff to proceed with the detailed design of option number one (of three options).

The first option (Claude Avenue/McCarthy Court Crossing) is the preferred route, according to a January 24 report, due to the strength of its proximity to key destinations within the Burnaby civic precincts on the south side of the Highway 1 and the Glencarin trailhead north. The report indicates that the option has a lower cost, as well as reduced impacts on the environment, private property and third-party infrastructure. The total cost would be $9.4 million and would meet the March 2026 deadline.

Option 2 is the Claude Avenue/Wilton Avenue intersection, which according to the report would be more expensive than Option 1.

Option three on Sperling Avenue would cross the freeway at a perpendicular angle, minimizing the length of the main span, which the city says would provide reasonable connections to both the Glencarin trailhead and destinations at the north of Sperling. There was no price estimate for this option.

Option four would cross the highway directly along Sperling to create the most direct link possible between origins and destinations along the access to Sperling, which de-prioritizes access to the Glencarin trailhead . The price estimate for option four is $29.6 million. The report says there is temporal uncertainty associated with both Sperling options and could jeopardize federal funding.

Com. Joe Keithley voiced support for the first option, pointing to price and timing as contributing factors.

“I think given the price of 9.8 million, compared to almost 30 million, I mean, it’s three times more. It’s just obvious,” he said.

“Where with the first option, Avenue Claude, this could be done within a year. The land is planted, the embankment is at the right height, it’s much easier to do.

“Let’s go, let’s do it, let’s build our real transport network. For me, it’s like an easy thing to do. And it’s a lot less complicated and we do it in a year.”

Com. Pietro Calendino said he supported option four, saying cost shouldn’t be a big concern if it benefits the community more than a lower cost option.

“Obviously as they say the direct route is always the best route and when it comes to choosing the best route, the best one always costs a bit more.

“Obviously we’re not just targeting cyclists but pedestrians and for pedestrians it’s a more direct route between Burnaby Lake and Deer Lake or the village museums so I would go for option four.”

Com. Dan Johnston also supported option number four, saying that if they want the viaduct to be well used, the closer it is to the Kensington Viaduct the better.

Mayor Mike Hurley said he thought the first option would be the most beneficial overall, saying it had the least risk and funding was already in place to complete the project.

“Number one is the lowest risk. And we already have enough funds in place to do option one,” he said.

“And I see these connections from Lougheed Mall to downtown Lougheed to downtown Metrotown and also connections from downtown Brentwood to downtown Edmonds. And for me, that’s the focal point of those connections I just don’t see it as walking from Burnaby Lake, to where the museum is, it’s really a bigger image issue than that and I get it, we’ll have to still a long walk to get up those switchbacks and back.

“So from my perspective, I just think for the cost and for the value, and for the looks as well. It will look a lot better.

“I know the rest of the councilors don’t agree with that. And I agree with that. But I just see it as a much bigger picture than just point A to point B. There’s a lot more points in there.”

Com. Alison Gu suggested that instead of a simple survey gathering baseline data, the city could ask what the start and end points would be for users of the viaduct.

City staff said this was information they could gather.

“I don’t want to slow down the work,” Gu said. “But it might be good to shed some light on the decision.”

A motion was then filed by Keithley to have the data suggested by Gu collected for the final decision-making process.

“If we actually had the data where it was going to be used by cyclists and pedestrians, that would be much more informed, like opinion and help guide our suggestion,” Keithley said. “So I’m not saying I’m right about that, maybe others who are willing to do option four, but I think getting the data and filing that question, for now, would be a wise decision.”

The motion was seconded and the matter adjourned to a later date.

The next phase of work after a design is selected will include public consultation, including further consultation with key stakeholders, including further consultation with First Nations.