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Letter: Proposed Burnaby development can help ease rental crisis

Concerns raised by homeowners about non-market rental building, such as effects on green space and neighborhood character, were taken into account during the planning process, reader says.
burnaby city hall
Opposition to a proposed rental development is surprising, a reader says.


I am surprised at the opposition shown by homeowners in the Edmonds Town Centre towards the proposed non-market rental building at 7388 Southwynde Ave.

This development has the potential to address the pressing issue of affordable housing in a city plagued by high rents and dwindling purpose-built rental units, yet this development also brings out the NIMBYs.

It is crucial to understand the broader context and the urgent need for affordable housing in the city. Burnaby currently ranks as the third-worst city in the country in terms of rental affordability. As residents struggle to find suitable housing within their means, purpose-built rental units are being lost over time. The proposed non-market rental building, including a child-care facility, offers an opportunity to alleviate this crisis.

The City of Burnaby has taken a proactive approach by partnering with Metro Vancouver Housing to address the affordable housing shortage. The project intends to provide 122 rental units, with a significant portion offering rents at below-market rates. The City of Burnaby would lease the land at a nominal rate, ensuring the long-term affordability of the housing. This collaborative effort aims to mitigate the impact of rising housing costs on the community and its residents.

It is crucial to acknowledge that the concerns raised by homeowners, such as impacts on green space and neighborhood character, were taken into account during the planning process. The city's general manager of planning and development, Ed Kozak, stated that efforts were made to fit the size of the building to maintain the neighborhood character. However, it is equally important to prioritize the urgent need for affordable housing, especially when public land can be utilized to address this critical issue.

The loss of green space, as raised by some residents, should also be considered within the larger framework. The proposed site for the redevelopment at 7388 Southwynde Ave. is already zoned for housing. While the preservation of green spaces is crucial, it is essential to strike a balance between environmental concerns and providing homes for individuals and families who are struggling to find affordable accommodation.

As a community, we must recognize the importance of embracing affordable housing initiatives. By opposing such developments, we risk perpetuating the housing crisis and denying fellow community members the opportunity to live in safe and stable homes. It is our responsibility to support sustainable solutions that address the affordable housing crisis while maintaining the unique character of our neighborhoods.

I urge homeowners and community members in Edmonds Town Centre to consider the long-term benefits of the proposed non-market rental building. Let us come together and work towards creating an inclusive community that prioritizes the well-being of all its residents. By embracing affordable housing initiatives, we can foster a more equitable and prosperous future for Edmonds Town Centre.

James Wong