BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Nine months after Burnaby council adopted its Downtown Metrotown Plan, hundreds of people are about to lose their homes.
Angry tenants and housing advocates have planned a rally for Saturday afternoon to illustrate the situation the renters find themselves in.
Seven rental buildings are slated for rezoning. They include 4960 Bennett, 5900 Olive, 6366 Cassie, 6433 McKay, 6444 Willingdon, 4241 Maywood, and 6075 Wilson. All are three-storey walk-ups, and most were built in the 1960s.
Polygon, Belford Properties Ltd, Ledingham McAllister, Anthem Properties Group Ltd are the developers planning high-rise condos for the various sites.
Close to 400 units are set to be lost.
Alliance Against Displacement, which is organizing Saturday’s rally, says the prospect of losing their homes is making tenants angry.
“We have conversations every week with people who are terrified. They are so stressed out and there’s nowhere to go. There have been people hospitalized with mental health crises,” says the group’s Zoe Luba.
Evicted tenants will have to look for new housing while the vacancy rate remains under one per cent.
And if they do find another place to live in Burnaby, rents will likely be much higher than they have been paying. According to PadMapper, Burnaby has the third highest rents in Canada – the median is $1,400 a month for a one bedroom.
“We are demanding emergency legislation, an emergency moratorium on all evictions. In addition, we want a completely different plan for the neighbourhood,” says Luba.
The alliance has drawn up what it calls a People’s Plan for the neighbourhood, which includes a suggestions to demolish single family homes along transportation corridors, and the land being bought by the City of Burnaby for non-market housing.
It also wants displaced renters to be placed into new non-market townhouses and apartment buildings.
Anthem Properties Group Ltd. is proposing building non-market units, but Luba says they won’t be affordable.
“They would cost $900 for a one bedroom. They would have an internal subsidy model that uses BC Housing income limits, which says you can’t spend more than a third of your income on rent. The threshold would be quite high,” says Luba.
The rally takes place at Beresford St. and Sussex Ave., starting at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The rezoning applications will return to council at a later date, and will have to go through public hearings.