Bike parking a big deal in B.C.

The CEO of the B.C. Apartment Owners and Managers Association has promised action on safe and secure bicycle parking in multi-unit dwellings.

In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, Marg Gordon said she lives in a condo in New Westminster where residents are prohibited from bringing bikes into the building or onto their balconies.

“It’s one of those issues that we all hope somebody is handling, but let’s do something about it, absolutely,” Gordon said. “I’m totally putting that on my list of things to do.”

The issue also concerns Brent Granby, president of the West End Residents Association, who lives in a West End apartment with his wife and two daughters.

“Parking for bicycles always seems to be something of an afterthought, but it’s a big issue,” Granby said by phone. “Particularly for myself, I know I’ve had a number of bikes stolen, and in a lot of these buildings storage is an afterthought and not very well thought out and not well designed, and it’s hard to use.”

Granby mused that the bikes that are visible on balconies in the West End are there “because it’s probably a lot safer”.

“I don’t put my good bikes downstairs because they’re not secure, and that’s the real big issue,” he said. “Particularly in the West End, I expect that they’ll be stolen from down there, so I buy the best locks that I can buy. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I’ve got to carry all this extra insurance because the builder didn’t build a secure bike room.”

Gordon said she bought her “junky” bike at a police auction, which is the only reason she parks it in the bike room of her building.

“There are issues around security and safety, but it is very apparent that there are less and less tenants that have vehicles,” Gordon said. “So, it is a trend, and a light bulb has gone off in my head. It is something we should do a survey on and talk to our membership about. If this is an issue, ”˜What are you doing to accommodate tenants so that their bicycles are safe and secure and easily accessible?’ ”

The City of Vancouver’s parking bylaw requires that 1.25 spaces be set aside per multiple-dwelling unit for permanent “Class A” residential bike parking. In addition, a minimum of six “Class B” spaces must be set aside for any development with at least 20 units in order to accommodate transient bike traffic.

In May 2008, Vancouver city council approved increasing the amount of off-street bicycle parking required in office and retail buildings to reflect the increased use of bicycles.

He won’t predict the end of the real-estate recession, but the president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of B.C. says the number of applications for mortgages is approaching that of this time last year.

“Things started off a bit slower this year through January and February, and then around March and April we started seeing a lot more mortgage activity, especially with rates going down,” Joe Santos told the Straight via cellphone. “What really transpired in the spring was there were a lot of clients taking advantage of refinancing their mortgages.”

People were looking at rates of 3.59 or 3.49 percent for a five-year fixed-term mortgage, Santos added. Due to people refinancing their homes in the spring, rates have crept up to 4.49 percent, he said. Santos said he also works for a mortgage lender, MCAP, which has been “inundated with [mortgage] preapprovals”.

“In communicating with other lenders, I know that everyone’s quite busy right now,” Santos said. He added that his sources are telling him the market is heating up. “Sales activity has been quite brisk.”

The Dockside Green development in Victoria is one of only two Canadian sites to make the Clinton Climate Initiative’s recently released list of 16 “climate-positive developments” around the world.

Dockside Green was chosen because of its biomass heat generation and other energy-efficiency measures. It’s a mixed-use harbourfront community located on former industrial land. The 7.3-million-square-foot project will eventually be home to 2,500 people and will include residential, live-work, retail, office and light industrial space.

A biomass plant will is slated to provide heat and hot water to all 26 buildings on the site via underground pipes.