Are you planning a move to Burnaby? With a vibrant mix of cultures, enchanting environment, excellent schools, a terrific transportation system, great restaurants and a robust economy, Burnaby can be a wonderful place to live. Here is all you need to know to know about your new city:
What Makes Burnaby Unique?
Burnaby is a rapidly growing city,with a population of 222,218 according to the 2011 census, an increase of 10% from 2006. Population increase has spurred Burnaby to change from a mostly agricultural area and bedroom community for Vancouver into an urban area with many commercial and industrial firms and a distinct culture. In fact, the Metropolis at Metrotown, British Columbia's largest mall, is located in Burnaby. A 2009 survey in Maclean's magazine voted Burnaby as a best-run city in Canada, citing efficiency, results vs. costs, and effective city services as important considerations.
A Diverse Community
One of the unique features of Burnaby is the fact that there is no "majority racial group" and the city is home to many different cultures and peoples which make the city vibrant and interesting. Unlike other cities, Burnaby has a wide range of ethnic groups that are spread out without one dominating. Nearly 54% of Burnaby residents have a first language that is neither French nor English.
Beautiful Natural Environment
The popularity of this beautiful city comes in part from the natural resources that surround it. Bounded by the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet, Burnaby's landscape has hills, valleys, ridges and an alluvial plain. As a resident of Burnaby, you will enjoy many changes in the weather. Because of its higher elevation, Burnaby has more snowfall (average of 89 inches a year) than either Vancouver or Richmond. With 183 average days of precipitation, Burnaby receives 75 annual meters of rain.
People are moving to Burnaby because the economy is growing and so is the job market. Much of the robust economy in Burnaby is in IT with Electronic Arts, Telus, Creo and Ballard Power Systems. In addition, Chevron and Petro-Canada have heavy industry petroleum refineries. Other important employers include:
- Pacific Blue Cross
- Canada Wide Media
- Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell
- Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
- The Bridge Studios
According to the 2011 census, employment in Burnaby was growing at 1.8% a year with a 92.6% employment rate.
Transportation in Burnaby
Burnaby has excellent highway access throughout the city and from the city to all other areas of British Columbia and the United States. All major routes come through Burnaby, including:
- Highway #1
- Canada Way
- Hastings Street
- Marine Way
Burnaby is in the middle of the transit system of Metro Vancouver. Translink gives specific schedules and route information. Public Transit includes:
- SkyTrains: automated rapid transit including 68 kilometers of track. Eleven of the 49 stations is in Burnaby. Travel time to downtown Vancouver is about 20 minutes.
- Translink Public Transportation: buses run 5 AM to 1 AM. Bus lines connect Burnaby's neighbourhoods and link to Sky Train routes.
Education in Burnaby
Public Education District 41
Excellent schooling is important in any community. Burnaby public schools seek to provide welcoming learning environments which are inclusive, embrace diversity and support the unique needs of the individual. Exceptional success in students winning scholarships and awards seems to bear out the school district's achievements.
Burnaby's public education district has 24,000 students attending 41 elementary schools and 8 secondary schools. Working with the BC Ministry of Education, Burnaby is seeking to refine the curriculum to focus on personalized learning. Starting in September 2016, students in K-9 will be starting to use the new program and grades 10-12 will begin piloting the redesigned curriculum. Highlights of the district include:
- WORDS Writing Project which publishes an anthology A Way With Words of Burnaby student works.
- International Education Program which has international students studying alongside local students for a summer or longer.
- Star STM Award for Best High School Program in 2015
- Programs for advanced placement, honors, visual and performing arts, technology, computer studies and sports.
- Volunteer and leadership opportunities.
- Language opportunities including French Immersion programs and Latin and Greek instruction.
- Burney's British Columbia School for the Deaf which has day classes for deaf and hard of hearing students from kindergarten through high school.
- Continuing education programs for adults, including English instruction.
Private Educational Opportunities
Some families prefer private education in faith-based schools. Burney has five Parochial schools and two Christian schools that parents can choose from. Along with offering a regular scholastic curriculum, these schools include religious education and instruction in the Bible.
Post-Secondary Education and Training
Located on Burnaby Mountain with spectacular views, Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities and offers:
- Studies in a wide variety of majors and minors, including Applied Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Communication, Art, Languages, Technolgy, Education, Environment, Health Sciences and Science.
- Work while learning and community learning opportunities.
- Study abroad exchanges.
- Continuing education.
- Faster degree completion programs.
A premier career training institution, British Columbia Institute of Technology offers a full range of career training in eight programs. Highlights of BCIT include:
- Small classes with one-on-one help with coursework (75% of classes are less than 30)
- Learning by doing in labs, shops and practicums.
- Connections with leading employers.
- Instructors who are active in careers and bring practical industry experience and perspective.
- Full-time and part-time learning.
- Advanced training, online learning and industry training.
- Programs in Applied & Natural Sciences, Business & Media, Computing &IT, Engineering, Heath Sciences, Trades & Apprenticeship
Things to Do in Burnaby
Whether you are an exercise nut, a nature enthusiast, an Arts lover, a restaurant connoisseur or a regular festival attendee, you will find something to do in Burnaby. Here are some of the highlights:
A vibrant cycling and walking community in Burnaby is facilitated by some excellent routes detailed on the Burnaby Bike Map. These routes include:
- Central Valley Greenway: a 24 km route which is used for joggers, walkers, cyclers, skateboards, bladers, and wheelchairs. The project runs parallel to the Millennium SkyTrain from New Westminster through Burnaby to Vancouver.
- BC Parkway: a 26 km route parallel to the Expo SkyTrain is used for walking and cycling.
- Urban Trails and Bikeways: an extensive city network also runs throughout the city and caters to a variety of cycling and walking abilities.
Love to walk and take hikes in nature? Burnaby offers world-class nature hikes with well-planned guides to make enjoying the scenery easy and enjoyable for the whole family. Along with BC Parkway and Central Valley Greenway, experience walking on:
- Nature Trails: a large variety of nature walking tours are available. You can take a hike on Burnaby Mountain or a stroll through Central park. Over 230 km of paths and trails are available. Not only can you experience fresh air and exercise, you can also enjoy the birds, trees, wildlife and changing weather of this beautiful area.
- Heritage Walking Tour around Deer Lake Park: learn historical facts about Burnaby as you stroll around this lovely lake and a fabulous collection of Edwardian homes designed by their owners to model the English countryside.
Arts and Heritage
With such a vibrant multicultural culture, Burnaby's arts community is dynamic. There are a large variety of workshops, classes, exhibits, special events and performances to attend. Here are some of your opportunities:
- Burnaby Art Gallery: offers rotating exhibits as well as an interactive map to locate public art around Burney. They also offer a variety of studio workshops for adults and children, family Sundays, artist talks and gallery tours.
- Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel: see history coming to life in this 10-cre recreation of a 1920s village complete with townsfolk demonstrations by people in period costumes.
- Bonsor's Fine and Performing Arts Programs: with over 250 classes in dance, music, visual and theatre arts, there is something for everyone to learn and enjoy.
- Shadbolt Centre for the Arts: offering classes, artist-in-residence programs, theater presentations and summer camps, lectures and jazz performances, you will find a large variety of events for the whole family.
Festivals and Events
Year-round Burnaby hosts many special events and festivals to celebrate culture and family fun. Some highlights are:
- Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival: annual August event with world-class music on three stages at Deer Lake Park.
- Giro di Burnaby: cycling race in July on city streets closed to traffic. This high-speed sprint event is a favourite of spectators as races reach up to 60 km/hr.
- Summer Sundays Fun at Civic Square: free concerts, children's activities, and outdoor movies during summer nights.
- Eco-Sculpures: Unique Eco-Sculptures throughout the city are an art form Burnaby is proud to pioneer. Beginning in 2005, these lovingly crafted topiaries have been carefully created and tended to the delight of visitors and residents alike.
- Shorelines and Lakes: Natural water views are found throughout the city. Boating and shoreline enjoyment is available in many places. Enjoy Barnet Marine Park in the north and Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park in the South. Central Buranby includes Burnaby Lake Regional Nature Park and Deer Lake Park.
- Shopping: With the 2nd biggest mall in all Canada and the largest mall in British Columbia, you can be sure to find everything you need at the aptly named Metropolis. Burnaby is also known for having many specialty shops and independent businesses as well as outlet malls.
- Parks: Burnaby has six major parks and dozens of neighbourhood parks for you and your family to enjoy all year round. You can visit the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area for a hike and picnic, or go to one of 11 Wading and Spray Pools for water fun. Families often visit Confederation Park and spend the day playing on the playground, riding the model steam railway or swimming in the fitness centre.
- Gardens: not surprisingly, Burnaby has several major gardens and flower festivals each year. The delightful Centennial Rose Garden offers luscious flower displays. The official flower of Burnaby is the Rhododendron which is on display vividly at the Century Garden, which hosts a festival for the flower each year. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures and share them with the tag #BurnabyinBloom.
- Golf: two exceptional golf facilities have serene settings for 18-hole courses with challenging and unique year-round playing for all ages. Burnaby golfing also has quality practice facilities and golf improvement centers.
- Pools: Burnaby has many indoor and outdoor public pools available for swimming. Many pools also offer swim lessons and special swim days for youth or families.
- Dog Parks: Dogs on leash are welcome at many Burnaby parks. Burnaby also has several off-leash dog parks as a special place for dogs and owners to have fun.
- Sports: if your family enjoys sports, there are plenty of opportunities to play in Burnaby. Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West has five artificial turf fields, a large clubhouse and meeting rooms. Metro Skate Park offers skateboarders and skaters a challenge along with offering a children's play area for the younger ones. Burnaby also offers facilities and programs for tennis, ice skating, canoeing, kayaking and snowshoeing.
Moving to Burnaby
Choosing to move to Burnaby will be a decision you do not regret. With a such a wide variety of recreational activities, attractions, and family-friendly community events, you will have plenty to do and many ways to make this beautiful area feel like home.
For more guides of the lower mainland, be sure not to miss:
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- The Ultimate Guide to Port Coquitlam
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- The Ultimate Guide to Surrey
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- The Ultimate Guide to Maple Ridge
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- The Ultimate Guide to Richmond
- The Ultimate Guide to North Vancouver
- The Ultimate Guide to West Vancouver
- The Ultimate Guide to New Westminster
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