Skip to content

Burnaby homeowners decry 6-storey rental proposal as 'eyesore'

The City of Burnaby says the development is "much-needed affordable housing," but homeowners opposed the Metro Vancouver Housing proposal, expressing concerns the height would be "like a skyscraper."

A proposed non-market rental building in Edmonds Town Centre is drawing opposition from homeowners in the neighbourhood.

The six-storey development with a child-care facility proposed on public land at 7388 Southwynde Ave. would provide affordable housing in a city that has the third worst rents in the country and has been continually losing purpose-built rental housing.

But neighbours in the area criticized the project.

‘Like a skyscraper’

At a public hearing on June 27, city council heard neighbours’ complaints, including concerns about losing green space, traffic congestion, impacting “residential peace,” concerns the daycare would cause overcrowding on the street and a loss of parking, and concerns about altering “community character.”

The city received more than 50 letters regarding the development, most opposing the project.

Multiple residents also expressed frustration with the recent construction of a nearby development on Byrnepark Drive.

Christopher Verhagen, a Southwynde Avenue resident, told council most of the buildings in the neighbourhood are about three storeys above ground level.

“To put a monstrosity of a six-storey building right on the edge of Byrne Creek … that is really going to be an eyesore, not only for the community to have this one building that towers over all the others, but it’s going to make a very uncomfortable transition from the suburban land.”

“This six-storey, relative to the other buildings, is going to be like a skyscraper in here,” Verhagen added. “What is that going to impact the rest of the neighbourhood in terms of property values and everything long-term?”

Rendering of the proposed development at 7388 Southwynde Ave. Metro Vancouver Housing

‘Much-needed affordable housing’

Ed Kozak, the city’s general manager of planning and development, said the city worked to try to fit the size of the building in as best as possible to maintain the neighbourhood character.

“But, at the end of the day, part of the decision that drove the height of the building was to provide as much housing on public land as possible in order to address the affordable housing crisis,” Kozak said.

Some residents raised concerns the development might have been a profit-seeking venture for developers, but the project is a partnership between Metro Vancouver and the City of Burnaby.

“There is no economic incentive or agenda to this,” Kozak said. “This is strictly to provide much-needed affordable housing.”

Metro Vancouver Housing, the regional government’s non-profit housing corporation, wants to build 122 rental units and a child-care facility with space for 37 children, according to a staff report.

The City of Burnaby would provide the land and lease the site to a non-profit society, housing co-op or government entity for 60 years at a nominal rate. (The details will be worked out as the project moves through the rezoning process.)

The project includes one adaptable studio, 52 one-bedrooms (22 adaptable), 56 two-bedrooms (all adaptable), and 14 three-bedrooms (all adaptable).

The rents could be at shelter rates, rent-geared-to-income, low-end-of-market, 20 per cent below market median, “or a combination of rent levels, depending on the funding program achieved,” according to the report.

At minimum, the development would include 51 per cent of units at 20 per cent below market median rental rates and 49 per cent of the units at 10 per cent below market rental rates.

The city anticipates the affordability would be deepened beyond the minimum.

But Verhagen also noted the development would mean the loss of green space.

“It looks like there may be a bit of a strategy to gradually take away more and more of our park land in this local area, which is highly concerning,” he said.

But the site of the proposed redevelopment at 7388 Southwynde is already zoned for housing, Kozak said.

“It’s not a park, and it’s not designated as a park,” he told council, adding, “It’s already designated for housing.”

One Southwynde neighbour wrote in support.

“I live in this neighbourhood and FULLY SUPPORT this development,” Frances Hamilton wrote.

“This neighbourhood needs more density, more families, and it is such a great option for this type of housing! PLEASE BUILD THIS,” she wrote, followed by seven exclamation points.

The current site at 7388 Southwynde Ave. Metro Vancouver Housing