Burnaby Now: Dozens turn out for public hearing on Burnaby highrises
Posted July 2, 2015
City of Burnaby staff directed to come up with report on rental housing issue.
Posted July 2, 2015
Burnaby council chambers was filled on Tuesday night with community activists and people worried they might lose their homes.
The hearing was for a rezoning application to replace two Burnaby low-rise rental apartment buildings with highrise condo towers. The three-storey buildings, located at 6380 and 6420 Silver Ave., were built in the early ’60s, according to a city staff report, and contain a total of 109 units.
The applicant, Belford Properties, is proposing a 41-storey residential tower atop a 6.5-storey podium with commercial, institutional and retail space, according to the report, and a 26-storey residential tower atop three-storey townhouses, with 479 residential units in total.
Council ultimately decided to have city staff compile a report replying to the requests brought forward at the hearing before moving on to the next step in the rezoning process, probably in the fall, according to Coun. Colleen Jordan, head of the city’s planning and development committee.
“There were a lot of different issues that came forward,” she told the NOW, adding two issues in particular were raised by several people.
“The whole issue of having a moratorium on the demolition of existing buildings, and also, somehow, council should provide a one-to-one replacement of the existing units in the new building,” she said. “I’m not actually sure legally, whether or not, we could do the demolitions piece. We operate under different rules than Vancouver does.”
Development in the city is a complex process, according to Jordan.
“There were a lot of people that, I appreciate when they’re there, they don’t have a really deep understanding of all these processes,” she said. “So that’s one of the things that our staff report will lay out, so they have some sense of the community plan.”
The MRA (Metrotown Residents Association), the Social Housing Alliance and the Burnaby branch of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada all oppose the development, arguing the city isn’t doing enough to protect low-cost rental apartments in the area.
Rick McGowan, founder of the MRA, said many people who are fearful of losing their homes spoke to council, and the meeting ran about two hours.
“They would have to be moved by what they saw,” he said.
There was some back and forth, as councillors wondered where people expected the city to expand, if not in Metrotown, he added.
“They asked, ‘Where do we want to put these million people that are coming?’ and we gave them some answers,” he said.
The areas along the Millennium Line that aren’t identified as transit hubs in the community plan, such as Production Way, could be a possibility, he added.
Poverty and loss of housing are intertwined, Wanda Mulholland, community development coordinator for the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness, said at the public hearing.
“Low-income residents, who fear the loss of their housing, are understandably concerned that they may be unable to find safe, affordable housing within their home community of Burnaby,” she said in a statement forwarded to the NOW. “We respectfully ask the city to evaluate the housing stock and put in place a policy of one-for-one replacement of affordable housing such as is in place in other Lower Mainland municipalities.”
Article by Janaya Fuller-Evans for Burnaby Now