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Letter: Supporting these Burnaby rental towers is a 'no-brainer' for council

Project would be located near SkyTrain but in a single-family house neighbourhood.
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A rendering of a development proposal by the BCGEU.


I’m writing in support of the BCGEU’s housing project for Burnaby. When I first moved to Metro Vancouver, I lived in New Westminster in a 700-square-foot one-bedroom apartment for around $700/month.

After I started university at SFU in 2009, I lived on and off campus. I come from a working poor background, and had little financial support. I took out student loans, student lines of credit, worked part-time and I tried to live within my means.

At SFU, I lived in Louis Riel House for three years and I paid around $1,200/month with one roommate until it was torn down due to being old and unsafe. I then moved to Hamilton Hall in 2015 to a 274-square-foot suite for $800/month that I quickly couldn’t afford. That same room now costs $980/month, which sadly, is a steal compared to market rentals.

I then moved to North Road for a two-bedroom $1400/month with a roommate. I lived there for four years, even after it became mouse infested over the pandemic; I just couldn’t afford to move out. I’m now back to SFU townhouses for around $850/month and three roommates.

Affordable rent shouldn’t be relegated to buildings that are so old that they become a health risk to those living in them. New buildings don’t have to be expensive to protect someone’s profit margins. Poor people deserve clean and safe housing, too. That’s why I am really excited about the BCGEU’s housing project as it’s actually designed to be affordable. It’s run by a non-profit organization and close to the Royal Oak SkyTrain station. Its commercial services support families. There’s already mixed residential buildings in the area, so this is a no-brainer.

This model of mixed-commercial and residential development with subsidized housing costs just makes sense. So much so that the Simon Fraser Student Society will look into this as a base for our student housing project to support low-income students.

As such, I implore Burnaby city council to approve the rezoning, let this project get developed, and be a new model for others to follow. We need actual affordable housing options in Metro Vancouver.

Corbett Gildersleve, acting president, Simon Fraser Student Society