Letter: Burnaby is setting the example, but other cities need to follow it

Editor:

I am writing this as an open letter to Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Delta, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, the Province of British Columbia, and federal NDP and Greens to ask them to please read and be informed by (and maybe even adopt) the final report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing.

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For those who don’t know me, I am Claire Preston, an aspiring municipal politician; Burnaby Parks, Recreation, and Culture Commissioner; and, now former, member of the Burnaby Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing #yourvoiceyourhome.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley brought together a group of people with diverse backgrounds and industry interests who all cared about ending the housing crisis. Thanks to the hard work of the team from the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, we were well-informed on the history, issues and public opinions of housing. This allowed us to work efficiently, achieve consensus on nearly every topic and come up with a list of recommendations.

I am extremely proud of the final report and its contents, while the nature of the report does not allow for the types of detail I would have liked to advocate for. And while I’m optimistic that the staff of the City of Burnaby will use the recommendations of the report to present some truly progressive changes to the OCP and bylaws to council, it won’t be enough to turn the tides on the Metro Vancouver housing crisis on its own.

Cities like New Westminster and Port Coquitlam are already moving on the housing crisis with tenant protection and rent banks. Port Moody is also a leader, adopting 1:1 replacement of affordable housing and sustainable community even before the last election.

So, I’m optimistic that they and Burnaby could coordinate their efforts. But we need most, if not all, the cities on the Metro Vancouver council to take progressive action to end the housing crisis. We could be world leaders if we look outside our current practices at what is working well in other parts of the world and implement them here, and that is the message I hope you will take away from the final report.

Claire Preston, Burnaby

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