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Letter: These Burnaby rental towers put affordability above profits

Writer says development proposal would offer apartments far cheaper than Burnaby-back housing project in Metrotown.
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A rendering of a development proposal by the BCGEU.


ACORN is an organization with over 100,000 members in Canada, almost all of whom are low and moderate income.

As an ACORN member, I have literally been to city hall dozens of times fighting development that will result in steep increases in housing costs and defending demovictions for over 2000 people. I was also a member of the newly created Mayors Task Force in 2019. I can hands down say that the proposed BCGEU project to build 292 rental units (and 49 daycare spaces) is the best proposal I have ever seen by far.

The BCGEU will be making 146-plus units deeply affordable; this means if they were renting today a 1 bedroom would cost $871/mo. This is simply incredible and far superior to the so-called “affordable” housing being built by the province right now.

Take, for example, the New Vista project on Sussex announced Monday where an “affordable” 1 bedroom unit will cost $1,336 a month. This is possible firstly because we are not relying on the private sector to develop this. For-profit developers are geared to making as much profit as possible and cannot make rentals this cheap because they are focused on maximizing profit.

Thankfully, the BCGEU has proposed a model where excess rent goes back into the building for maintenance and keeping rents as low as possible.

The location could not be better, it is in a commercial district and no housing will be destroyed to make this. It is literally right beside a SkyTrain station which is ideal for a low and moderate income households.

On top of this, there will be 49 daycare spaces below. With this project the BCGEU, which has a track record of fighting for housing affordability, can hopefully inspire more development like this that is focused on meeting the needs of low and moderate income people.

Murray Martin, Burnaby