It’s starting to sound like a broken record – Burnaby needs an affordable housing strategy. We hear it often from readers, concerned citizens and most recently, ACORN, a local anti-poverty group (see our page 1 story).
You’d think someone at city hall would have got the message by now, but sadly it seems they haven’t.
Rick Erb, co-chair of ACORN’s Burnaby chapter, wants what most residents in any city want: for the local elected officials to take a stand on behalf of their citizens, in this case a growing group of renters who are being forced out of their homes.
Over the last five years, 12 rental apartment buildings have been reduced to dust and, along with them, 275 rental units. Where do those people go? New Westminster? The Tri-Cities? Surrey? Isn’t it unfair to demolish people’s homes without offering them somewhere else to go?
Yes, you’re right, there are still rental units available in Burnaby, but they’re dwindling fast as developers build more and more towers – many of which are unaffordable for most people.
Last week, the Fraser Institute released a report on residential land-use regulations in the Lower Mainland. The report lists Burnaby as the second least-regulated municipality when it comes to residential development.
This report is concerning, especially since Burnaby has been an NDP stronghold for decades.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was quoted recently in an article in the NOW saying it wasn’t “up to the property taxpayer to try and subsidize the other people’s homes.”
Regardless of whether we agree, his remark leaves us wondering whose responsibility it is.
Corrigan and his crew keep pointing fingers at the provincial and federal governments, saying it’s up to them to get the ball rolling on an affordable housing.
Earlier this month, Coun. Colleen Jordan told the NOW that Burnaby will need an additional 7,400 units of low- to mid-market range housing by 2012, but exactly how the city is going to go about building these units seems to be a whole other story, one riddled with “significant challenges,” according to Jordan.
Like Corrigan, Jordan points to the province and feds, saying that it’s up to them to help get these units built. And yes, it’s true, Canada could benefit greatly from a national housing strategy, but we can’t just keep passing the ball around. Eventually, someone’s got to step up and do something.