1,800 rental units recently built or under construction in Burnaby: city report

The City of Burnaby says its new tactics to expand rental options are working, with nearly 900 non-market units and just over 900 market units recently built or under construction.

On top of 527 below-market units already built, another 367 are currently under construction, city staff noted in a report to council this month, with another 1,730 currently going through the city’s rezoning process.

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In all, those 2,630 units are spread out over 27 projects, according to the city, with 11 of those being built on city-owned land.

The city finalized and adopted its rental use zoning policy (RUZP) in March this year, but developments prior to the policy’s finalization were advanced through the city’s red tape under the condition they followed the policy as it was in development. The policy includes a requirement that new multi-family developments include 20% of their market units at below-market rates. The units, referred to by the city as inclusionary units, must be rented at 20% below Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation median rents.

According to a presentation to council by senior planner Wendy Tse, 20% below median rents in Burnaby range from $840 to $980, depending on the area, making for median rents of $1,050 to $1,225. Those numbers are from 2019 and will likely be updated for 2020 early next year.

Similarly, any residents of older rentals displaced by developments must be rehoused in the development at the same rate they were paying, plus any annual rate increases allowed by the province.

Developments in commercial zones are also allowed to add rental housing to occupy any unused density on the lot.

The policy stemmed from the community housing task force’s final report, adopted by council in July 2019.

Among the market units recently constructed, 300 come from one development: Brentwood Tower 1.

Another 496 market units are currently under construction, according to the city, and 2,826 potential market rental units are currently under review between 40 rezoning applications. Of those, Tse said just over 1,000 are replacement units for old rentals being demolished for new developments, and 400 are inclusionary units.

“These numbers will likely change, as many of these projects are still quite early in the process, and the numbers are still being determined,” Tse told council.

Coun. Joe Keithley said Tse’s presentation demonstrates “great progress” in the city’s efforts to mitigate the low rental supply in the city.

“Overall, it’s a much better housing situation than we had back before the mayor’s task force,” Keithley said.

Mayor Mike Hurley said the city “has been moving quickly on the housing front.”

“These are impressive numbers,” he said of the new units reported by Tse, “but I think it’s important to look beyond these numbers to what they mean for our community. Each of these units represents a chance for people to find a secure, stable place to live. Each unit might represent a chance for a family to set down roots here in Burnaby.”

Follow Dustin on Twitter at @dustinrgodfrey

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