Plans for McBurney Lane improvements unveiled

Beautification would transform the lane into a pedestrian area and a central spot in the City’s downtown core

Artist rendering of proposed improvements to McBurney Lane.

Artist rendering of proposed improvements to McBurney Lane.

By this time next year, McBurney Lane in downtown Langley City will have a  cleaner and greener look.

New public seating, green space and a wooden deck will be added during a massive renovation of the area.

Design plans for the McBurney Lane Beautification Plan were unveiled at a public open house at City Hall on June 13, based on feedback from an open house held last summer.

The idea is to transform the lane into a pedestrian area and a central spot in the City’s downtown core, said Joseph Fry of Hapa Collaborative, the company remodeling the lane.

“This space is really critical,” he told about two dozen members of the public and council who attended the open house.

“(We want to) give it a sense of comfort that encourages the kinds of activities you want to see here, not the activities you don’t want to see here, and a sense of ownership that these shop owners would hold.”

With a budget of $760,000, a number of design options for the lane were presented.

The base option, featuring a wooden deck that existing trees will grow through (similar to one on Granville Island), steps built in an arching form following the natural slope of the lane that will serve as seating, and a water feature or signature piece on the north side to anchor the corner and draw pedestrians in, will cost approximately $336,000.

A series of alternate add-ons have also been proposed, including installing pavers across the access lane to encourage a sense of safety among pedestrians (an extra $16,000), creating a living wall of plants and trees along the southeast side by Venetis Restaurant (an extra $7,000), or continuing the row of honey locust trees on the southwest side of the south lane to create a green canopy (an extra $17,500).

“The primary thing we are trying to respond to as part of our designs is giving McBurney Lane a friendly pedestrian feeling to it,” Fry said,

The lane will also serve as the “living room or foyer” to events occurring in Douglas Park, drawing crowds in through an open design and a “canopy of green and plant elements” extending from the park to the lane, he added.

A narrative honouring the life of Dr. Albert McBurney, whom the lane is named after, will be incorporated as well.

Currently, the lane is being underused by customers and business owners and has become a hub for vandals.

Karla Barton, owner of McBurney Junction Furniture & Interiors located on the corner of the lane, said that when she first took over the furniture store 12 years ago, it was the lane that attracted her to that location. But now the area has fallen by the wayside.

“It’s not a well defined space. It’s underutilized and not attractive,” she said.  “It’s overdue for a facelift.”

One of the major concerns voiced by many present at the meeting is the challenge of parking in the area. Presently, there are four stalls in the north lane and 18 angle stalls in the south lane.

During the original presentation last July, Hapa Collaborative proposed removing all 22 of these spots in favour of trees, green space, a walking path and other aesthetic improvements.

After large public backlash, the base plan now is to remove the four stalls in the north lane, and keep the 18 stalls to the south.

A separate project to replace the 56 parallel parking stalls on Douglas Crescent with 82 angle stalls has also been proposed. Should this happen, the current 78 stalls will increase to 100. Final design decisions will not be made until a report is presented to council in July.