RealTours is the breakthrough new series from REW.ca that brings you Canadian real estate like you’ve never seen it before. Join us as we embark on an adventure through the Lower Mainland’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, guided by British Columbia’s best realtors.
Burnaby is a suburb that punches above its weight. Not only is it the birthplace of some of Canada’s most famous children — Michael J Fox, Carrie-Anne Moss and Michael Bublé to name a few — it’s also home to some of the country’s tallest buildings.
Looking east from Vancouver, the Burnaby skyline is increasingly impressive, with Metrotown and Brentwood’s skyscrapers dominating the landscape and confusing tourists who can’t figure out where ‘downtown’ actually is.
No longer is Burnaby just Vancouver’s closest suburb, separated from the city proper by the aptly-named Boundary Road. These days, it’s an urban powerhouse in its own right, arguably ahead of the curve when it comes to creating housing and planning for the residents of the future.
In this episode of RealTours, Stephen Tadgh gets to know the real Burnaby with the help of Doris Gee & Phil Moore, quite possibly the power couple of BC’s real estate world.
Welcome to Burnaby
With Vancouver to the west, New Westminster and Surrey to the south, Port Moody and Coquitlam to the east and the Burrard Inlet to the north, Burnaby is smack dab in the middle of Greater Vancouver. This prime location means it’s one of the best connected suburbs in the region, with both the Expo and Millenium SkyTrain lines running through key corridors in the city.
These transport lines are the home to most of the city’s densification plans, with 40+ storey towers in Brentwood and Metrotown just streets away from single-family homes (and an 80-storey behemoth planned for the nearby Lougheed Town Centre). Rapid development has given rise to a burgeoning culture as first-time buyers move into the area, closely followed by exciting new businesses.
Despite the shift towards condo-living, much of Burnaby still caters to those seeking a quieter life. Detached homes cover most of the city’s neighbourhoods, and 25% of Burnaby’s land is designated as parks and open spaces, one of the highest rates in North America.
Serving the southwest quadrant of Burnaby, Metrotown is considered the city’s central business district and home to Canada’s third largest shopping mall, Metropolis at Metrotown.
"Metrotown is now the downtown of Burnaby,” Gee explains in RealTours. “This is the core of Burnaby. We have a diversity of people of all cultures here."
The city has big plans for the area. In 2019, Burnaby City Council approved a long-term master plan that will eventually replace the mall with a revitalized neighborhood with new high rises, retail space, streets, and pedestrian plazas.
This means options for homeseekers, with studios, one, two and three-bedroom homes coming to the market.
Heading north from Metrotown, Gee and Moore guide us through the upscale Government Road neighbourhood, home to at least one of the previously mentioned local celebrities. This is probably not the place to enter the housing market, with minimum lot sizes of around 10,000 square feet. Homes in this community range from 6,000 square feet to a whopping 20,000 square feet.
On Government Road, it’s easy to forget you’re in one of the region’s biggest suburbs. Burnaby Lake is a short stroll away, surrounded by a 10 kilometre trail popular with joggers and dog walkers.
"This is where you're going to find the larger lots and the established community,” explains Moore. “You're not going to find duplexes, you're not going to find suites. This is not about density here. Here is about peace and quiet."
Our final stop in Burnaby takes us to the Amazing Brentwood. Locals may have scoffed at the name at first, but Brentwood has earned its moniker. This master-planned neighbourhood has seen massive development in recent years, with residential towers alongside retail stores, cafes and a pretty incredible movie theatre.
It’s one of Gee’s favourite places in Burnaby. “Brentwood is a mini Yaletown, as far as I'm concerned. Lots of boutique stores, lots of great restaurants which we don't have to be in downtown Vancouver for."
Doris Gee & Phil Moore have been in the real estate game since the late ‘80s, after Moore left the Vancouver Police Department to become a realtor. At the same time, Gee was moving away from helping out in her family’s restaurant and towards a successful real estate career.
These days, the couple have been selling real estate together for over three decades and operate under the philosophy ‘make a world of difference’. And a difference they have made, helping over 5,300 clients buy or sell their homes.
“Doris and I really competed against each other at first,” says Moore. “And as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, you have to join them.”
Gee and Moore believe this is a great time to invest in Burnaby. Not only is there a lot of property on offer - from condos to townhomes to detached homes - you tend to get more bang for your buck as compared to neighbouring Vancouver.