How Burnaby plans to build hundreds of affordable housing units in Edmonds

City partnering with province, BC Housing to replace Hall Towers and build market and non-market housing at Kingsway and Edmonds Street

A towering vision for the future of affordable housing in Burnaby is taking shape, as the city plans to redevelop the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds Street. 

The City of Burnaby and BC Housing have issued a request for expression of interest (RFEOI) for the four lots in the Edmonds Town Centre.  

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The lots are the former home of the Edmonds library and community centre and the current site of Hall Towers – two residential towers owned by BC Housing and home to some 334 low-income seniors and people with disabilities. 

In January, local and provincial politicians announced the aging Hall Towers would be replaced by a new development and all current residents would be given the first opportunity to move into the new building or buildings. 

“We are very excited that we are working closely with BC Housing and the City of Burnaby to make sure people living here in the aged towers ... will be able to move in to a brand new facility that will provide safe and very secure housing for people,” Burnaby–Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan said at the time.

But plans for the four adjacent lots go beyond replacing the existing public housing. The city wants to see commercial space, community services, a new road and new green space built around market and non-market housing – all built at the intersection it calls “the primary node of development in the Edmonds Town Centre.”

 

First, a new home for the existing Hall Towers residents needs to be built on the former site of the Edmonds branch of the Burnaby Public Library. The land would come under BC Housing ownership, and a developer would be tasked with building a new tower or towers atop a commercial podium.

A city staff report suggests Burnaby could contribute the density bonus usually charged to developers of market housing to allow the construction of taller highrises. This additional space could create “family-oriented low- to moderate-income housing on the site.” 

The city says BC Housing would have to provide amenities within the development, “such as recreation facilities, community meeting space and offices for support services.” The housing agency could then sell or lease the commercial space in the podium to offset construction and operations costs. 

Once all residents have moved out of Hall Towers, they will be demolished and likely replaced by a new tower atop a townhouse podium, according to the report. The new units would likely be set aside for middle-income renters and buyers under BC Housing’s new HousingHub program launched last year. 

But, the city report notes, that plan is not set in stone and the site “would also be a suitable site for market multiple-family housing, should BC Housing opt not to retain” the lot. 

Next, the eastern portion of the site, the former home of the Edmonds Community Centre, could be sold to a private developer. The city could transfer density allotted to an adjacent parking lot to increase the value of the third lot and fetch top dollar. 

The developer would be able to build two towers atop a podium with residential and commercial space, the city says. 

That developer would be required to improve the parking lot next door, “including re-greening existing surface parking areas, providing a better connection between the Highland Park Line Trail and the Kingsway-Edmonds intersection and creating a terminus plaza for the trail.”

The plans also call for an extension of 16th Street through the middle of the three lots. 

Developers wishing to express interest have until March 28 to submit proposals. Burnaby city council and BC Housing expect to choose a partner in June. 

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