A controversial rezoning application to replace two Burnaby low-rise rental apartment buildings with highrise condo towers goes to public hearing tomorrow.
At issue are the three-storey buildings located at 6380 and 6420 Silver Ave., which 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. That would equate to 479 apartment units in total, as well as a nearly $16 million density bonus from the project, which would go to the Metro Town Centre account for amenities.
Meanwhile, the Metrotown Residents Association (MRA), the Social Housing Alliance and ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada all oppose the development plan, arguing the city isn’t doing enough to protect low-cost rental apartments in the area.
“We have a lot of Burnaby residents that came from Vancouver, and from here, they’re going to push them farther out to Surrey,” said Monica McGovern, chair of ACORN’s Burnaby chapter. “Moving is a major stress on people, and they’re losing the whole community they’ve built up.”
Coun. Colleen Jordan, who’s also the chair of the planning and development committee, said Burnaby faces a “conundrum” of trying to accommodate additional people in the region who also need housing, while having a concern for those who are being displaced.
“There’s no doubt the rent in those new units will be significantly higher than the ones that they’re replacing, and that’s a problem, but that’s a problem beyond the control of what the city (can) do,” she said.
McGovern disagrees. The local resident is calling on council to introduce a standard of maintenance bylaw, which would prevent landlords from letting their buildings deteriorate through routine inspections (a bylaw already in place in municipalities like Richmond and Vancouver).
Until then, McGovern wants the city to place a moratorium on the demolition of low-rise rental apartment buildings and work on a policy that would ensure that if they are torn down, their replacements would be affordable to low-income renters.
The public hearing is being held inside council chambers at city hall on Tuesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. A petition of more than 200 signatures in support of throwing out the rezoning application will be presented to council, according to Rick McGovern, founder of MRA. For those who cannot attend, written submissions must be received at the city clerk’s office by 4:45 p.m. on the day of the public hearing.
-with files from Janaya Fuller-Evans