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Burnaby looking to crack down on demovictions

Last Updated May 25, 2019 at 12:58 am PDT

FILE: Metrotown renters protest demovictions on July 15, 2016. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) —  After years of demovictions and renovictions, it appears the City of Burnaby is prepared to step in to stop renters from losing their homes

A new strategy is being considered by the city to increase rental stock and make sure even renovated suites are affordable.

It’s a four-pronged approach.

One bylaw would require developers to offer their displaced tenants rent for the same amount after renovations. It would also restrict rents for new tenants to below 20 per cent the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation Average Market Rents for the area. It would also require developers to replace all rentals lost through demolitions.

Another recommendation would allow rental suites to be built in commercial zones.

 

RELATED: Could Burnaby be next, when it comes to taking action to stop ‘renovictions’?

A third change would allow the city to zone all current rental buildings as rental-only going forward, meant to prevent developers from buying up those properties to convert them into condos.

The fourth aspect would require developers to designate 20 per cent of any new multi-family units as rentals.

Murray Martin with ACORN, which advocates for low income households, wonders if the changes will come fast enough for the hundreds of renters who’ve been given eviction notices.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure for running them through the city council process. If we don’t have a relocation policy in there, it doesn’t help those current residents. That’s about 2,000 people,” he says.

RELATED: Port Coquitlam set to introduce bylaw that targets predatory renovictions

He also points out displaced people need places to stay while new units are being built.

“So what if they have first right of occupation? Even if it’s the same rent, where do they go in the four years between that? A lot of people we know there might die in the meantime,” he says.

He questions whether the proposals will make it through the council process.

“We still have 7 of the 9 councillors passing all these previous demovictions and I’m afraid they’re going to feel obliged to the developers.”

The potential bylaw comes after hundreds of people have lost their rental suites due to redevelopment, primarily in Metrotown, since 2011. The city has set up a task force to explore ways to improve housing affordability and findings are due this summer

City council will discuss the proposed rental strategy at Monday’s meeting.