The number of affordable housing units could nearly double at Norland Avenue in Burnaby, if a zoning amendment is passed by the city.
Council passed a proposed zoning amendment to an Oct. 27 public hearing, which will allow residents to provide input on adding a four-storey, 43-unit modular building added to 3986 Norland Ave. That site is already home to 52 studio units in a three-storey modular structure, which was built in 2019.
The modular units – existing and proposed – are all part of the B.C. government’s investment in low-barrier modular housing, largely intended for those most at risk of homelessness or currently facing homelessness.
If the additional units are passed by council, the new building could be operational relatively quickly, due to the modular mode of construction. Councillors gave the existing building final approval in February 2019, and that building was completed by the end of October, a much faster turnaround than conventional construction.
The 43 units are proposed to be studio apartments, while the building would also include shared amenity space and access to support services.
Modular housing has been a major part of the B.C. NDP’s plan to address homelessness, offering hundreds of units throughout the province at a quick pace. The units are low-barrier, meaning there tend to be fewer rules that could evict the tenants.
The existing modular building was originally announced in May 2018 but appeared to be mired in delays. In an email obtained last year by the NOW, a BC Housing official told the city its processes for approving projects “came in piecemeal” and were “much more onerous than other municipalities.”
Invasive knotweed and engineering requirements also contributed to the delays.