Re: Not buying change of heart, NOW opinion, July 27.
I have just finished reading Murray Martin’s opinion piece on Burnaby city council’s lack of concern for renters in the Metrotown area.
I have found this depressingly consistent with their attitude toward the homeless in this city. Advocates for the homeless have lobbied for years for a shelter in Burnaby and remain unsuccessful. The reply from council has always been that funding a shelter would require a partial contribution from the city and this is not acceptable to them. They hold the position that other levels of government should be responsible for 100 per cent of the financing. Other municipalities have not assumed this stance, and the upshot is that Richmond and Burnaby are the only communities in the Lower Mainland that do not have a homeless shelter.
Similarly, the Elizabeth Fry Society was frustrated in its effort to build a small apartment building in Burnaby. This would have housed people with mental health and prior substance abuse issues. Unfortunately, the city insisted that parking be provided for each apartment, and this was not financially feasible for Elizabeth Fry. They pointed out to council that the tenants would receive small pensions and could not afford automobiles. City hall remained adamant, and the project was abandoned.
Is Burnaby evolving into a community planned strictly to house the affluent? If it does so, it could be due to policies which consistently obstruct efforts to house the working class, homeless people, and tenants with mental health issues. I would be ashamed to live in a city with this sort of reputation.
Greg Bourgeois, Burnaby
Editor’s note: There is currently a proposal before council for a supportive housing project that would provide homes for people who are homeless, or at risk of being homeless. Council has stated its support for it; however, it is not what would be considered a “shelter.”