Loading articles...

No way out: Burnaby Mountain residents to raise emergency plan concerns at town hall

Last Updated May 28, 2019 at 6:39 am PDT

A rendering of the UniverCity area on top of Burnaby Mountain. (Courtesy UniverCity)

UniverCity residents are concerned there isn't a plan to get people off Burnaby Mountain in the event of an emergency

Residents plan to take their concerns to Burnaby's mayor, emergency crews at a town hall on Wednesday

UniverCity residents says no fire hall and only one way off Burnaby Mountain makes for a dangerous situation

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – No fire hall, no evacuation plan and a precarious escape route; those are just some of the concerns a group of Burnaby Mountain residents plan to bring up at a town hall Wednesday evening.

In the case of an earthquake or major fire, the only plan to get 6,000 people living in a neighbourhood on top of the mountain down, is to have them hike, according to the UniverCity Neighbourhood Association.

“We did a recent community survey and one of the topics that came up was, there’s all this talk around the tank farm and response times from emergency services — fire, police, ambulance — that it’s a topic a lot of our residents are concerned [with],” the association’s Mario Guisado says.

The lack of a dedicated fire hall is a major concern for the people living in the Burnaby Mountain area.

“The university has a single access point at Gaglardi and University Drive, that’s kind of a bottle neck — so the drive itself is about a seven to 10 minute drive, depending on lights,” Guisado explains.

“I took a look and the closest fire hall is on Duffy Street and it’s around 15 minutes from the top of the hill and that’s assuming that the weather is good.”

He says over the weekend, it took fire crews 20 to 25 minutes to arrive after a fire alarm was set off on the mountain.

No plan to escape

The concerns around the lack of fire hall tie directly into another of the community’s concerns: the fact that there’s only one way on and off the mountain.

Guisado says both he and others believe that’s just not enough.

“We’re not aware of any plan. That’s part of the conversation we want to start. If we do need to evacuate the mountain, how would we do it? If that access point, that bottleneck, for some reason is unusable, what is the plan to get folks off the mountain?”

He points out there are trails, and the plan has been for people to simply walk down. However, obvious concerns with that include how those with mobility issues, young children, and others would be able to do so along the sometimes steep gravel path.

“We’re big supporters of the gondola from Production Station, because that maybe is an option for us as an evacuation route — especially for the folks who have mobility issues,” he adds.

It’s up to TransLink, he notes, to decide whether a gondola is feasible.

Guisado says Simon Fraser University may have its own evacuation plan and that the neighbourhood may even have been lumped into that plan but the bottom line is no one is aware of anything official.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, city staff, emergency responders and a number of other groups are expected to be in attendance to listen to concerns and hear ideas.

Anti-pipeline activists are also expected to be at the town hall to point out risks related to the Trans Mountain expansion.

The event is being hosted by UniverCity Community Association on May 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the University Highlands Elementary School gym.