Burnaby is a city in British Columbia, Canada, located immediately to the east of Vancouver. It is the third-largest city in British Columbia by population, surpassed only by nearby Surrey and Vancouver.
It was incorporated in 1892 and achieved City status in 1992, one hundred years after incorporation. It is the seat of the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s government, the board of which calls itself Metro Vancouver.
In the first 30 to 40 years after its incorporation, the growth of Burnaby was influenced by its location between expanding urban centres of Vancouver and New Westminster. It first served as a rural agricultural area supplying nearby markets. Later, it served as an important transportation corridor between Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Interior and continues to do so. As Vancouver expanded and became a metropolis, it was one of the first-tier bedroom community suburbs of Vancouver itself, along with North Vancouver and Richmond. Burnaby is now a mature, integrated community, which is centrally located within a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Burnaby’s characteristic has shifted over time from rural to suburban, to urban.
At incorporation, the municipality’s citizens unanimously chose to name it after legislator, speaker, Freemason and explorer, Robert Burnaby, who had been private secretary to Colonel Richard Moody, the Colony of British Columbia’s first land commissioner in the mid-19th century. In 1859, Mr. Burnaby had surveyed the freshwater lake near what is now the city’s geographical centre; Moody chose to name it Burnaby Lake.
While Burnaby occupies about 4% of the land area of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, it accounted for about 10% of the Region’s population in 2001. It is the third most populated urban centre in British Columbia (after Vancouver and Surrey) with an estimated population of 205,261. Like much of Greater Vancouver, Burnaby has always had large ethnic and immigrant communities: to cite two examples, North Burnaby near Hastings Street has long been home to many Italian restaurants and recreational bocce games, while Metrotown’s ever-sprouting condominium towers in the south have been fuelled in part by more recent arrivals from China (Hong Kong & Macau), Taiwan, South Korea, and the former Yugoslavia. According to the 2006 Census, 54% of Burnaby residents have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French. According to a 2009 survey by Maclean’s magazine, Burnaby is Canada’s best run city. The survey looks at a city’s efficiency, the cost of producing results, and the effectiveness of its city services.
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