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A 200-acre Community Space -UBC student reimagines old Burnaby oil refinery

200-acre Community Space -UBC student reimagines old Burnaby oil refinery

200-acre Community Space -UBC student reimagines old Burnaby oil refineryUBC student reimagines old Burnaby oil refinery as community space

As Burnaby reimagines its Lochdale neighborhood as an urban village, a large tract of land on the north side of the neighborhood remained quietly unchanged. That’s over 200 acres on the shores of Burrard Inlet: Shellburn Distribution Station at 6511 Hastings St. – Shell’s first refinery in Canada, built-in 1932.

In a new thesis as part of British Columbia’s Landscape Architecture program, graduate student Yueying Zhang studied what the place might look like in the future and how it might fit into the neighborhood. The Shellburn site is no longer an active refinery site but had a daily capacity of 35,000 barrels in 1982. It was converted into a shipping and receiving terminal in 1993 as it is today.


Shell Lands off Hastings Street reimagined

Zhang’s drawings depict the Shellburn site as a space of cooperative community gardens, a salt marsh, and an “oil maze”, in which a winding path leads people through a post-construction landscape. In her reimagining of the space, large oil reservoirs remain a key feature of the park Zhang says this will give visitors a visual shock at the size and scale of the infrastructure strata, showing the impact of industrialization.

“It reminds people of the past; it shows the identity of a certain area,” she says, adding that it can even make people feel uncomfortable. “Keeping these industrial monuments is one way to help the locals remember their past.”

There are different approaches to restoring brownfield sites. Zhang said one is a cover-up approach, where all the industrial structures are demolished. You can’t see the site’s identity or past,” she said. “You hide everything.”

Instead, Zhang prefers an educational approach, such as that used for the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord in Germany, which she says encourages people to interact with industrial structures. The German park consists of oil tanks that have been converted into diving pools that can be used by the public for recreational purposes.

“When people actually interact and explore the site with past structures, you wonder what happened here before?” Zhang said. Zhang wrote her thesis through the lens of environmental justice, a theoretical framework regardless of a person’s social status, income or race and regardless of species (human or non-human), all must have an equal right to enjoy nature.

200-acre Community Space -UBC student reimagines old Burnaby oil refineryThe future of oil sites

As people switch to cleaner energy (Canada’s climate goal is net zero emissions by 2050), Zhang said more and more oil sites will go unused. According to the city’s Lochdale Urban Village Plan, if Shell explores alternative land uses, “the public and other stakeholders will play an important role in considering how best to integrate these uses into the existing urban village community space, in a gradual and progressive manner.

Due to the scale of the property, any future redevelopment will include public consultation and viewing board review. Shell wrote to NOW in an emailed statement that it regularly evaluates future opportunities for its sites, but for now, the Shellburn site will remain a distribution station.


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A More Balanced Market: Shifting Market Presents Opportunities For Buyers And Developers

Shifting Market Presents Opportunities For Buyers And Developers


The real estate market in British Columbia is officially entering a new phase. Gone are the days of heated bidding wars and home sales well above list prices. It’s time to embrace and even welcome a new phase of a more balanced market. A bShifting Market Presents Opportunities For Buyers And Developersalanced market might cause some people to panic, but the move from a seller’s market to a more balanced market could benefit the industry as a whole.

In a balanced market, sellers and buyers have equal supply and demand. Supply remains a concern, but a slight increase in active supply has partially contributed to these fair market conditions. Interest rate levels, economic uncertainty, and new home construction are driving buyer behavior away from the normally extreme competitive environment and toward more balanced terms. Homes are starting to sell at prices closer to asking prices and in less busy time slots. Buyers have more opportunities to look at options and sellers have the opportunity to conduct thorough due diligence. Ultimately, there is a win-win situation in matching more sustainable buyers and real estate.

Developers Must Consciously Prepare for Change

The changing market realities mean that developers must adjust their expectations as the market changes. We can no longer assume that prices will continue to rise and projects will be sold en masse. The practices of the last 18 months no longer apply. Overall, more thought and intent should be included and applied to each step of the project. Developers need to be strategic about when and how to bring their projects to market. After considering the logistics of all the financial requirements surrounding the development, plans to leverage strategic sales stages should be considered.

For example, a project can benefit from a phased pace of sales with specific targets for absorption and replenishment costs for each phase. Rather than jumping into the market in one fell swoop, release your project to specific targets over time to gain traction and achieve success.

Developers will also have the opportunity to be more creative and focus on product positioning. It’s important to highlight the specific consumer needs that each development meets and consider those needs before starting a build. Pricing, of course, is the main revenue driver today. Demand for housing has not changed and supply needs have not decreased, but the cost of housing is deterring people from buying it. Inflation and interest rates mean pricing must be meaningful to buyers. Strategic and creative thinking about incentives for realtors and buyers is required. For example, a pre-sale deposit structure may need to be creatively constructed to reduce buyer pressure.

Buyers Experience More Choices, Less Panic

If you’re a current buyer, you’re likely worried about inflation, interest rates, and housing availability. Ultimately, a more balanced and stable market means less urgency and more choice for buyers, resulting in a more positive buying experience. Buyers benefit from fewer offers and fewer bidding wars. More opportunities to discuss each purchase with agents, set funding terms, and view listings. Don’t be afraid to be beaten by no-obligation offers. As this competition slows down, buyers generally have more products to choose from at a pace that gives them the chance to thoroughly review their purchases.

As the heated market returns to a more balanced state after 18 months of particularly strong performance, buyers and developers can see the benefits of this new status quo. Purchases are less likely to be reversed, especially up front, and may result in higher long-term home satisfaction.

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