Housing

Burnaby, June 25, 2018
Burnaby Civic Green Party Unveils Pillars of Housing Platform

Background

In response to the Seniors-Poverty-Report-Card released on June 12 and in the face of a growing number of rezoning applications going forward that will deplete Burnaby's purpose built rental stock and displace hundreds more households in Metrotown, the Burnaby Civic Green Party is outlining its plan to preserve and enhance Burnaby's affordable housing stock and develop our neighbourhoods through authentic consultation and innovative planning policies. Joe Keithley, mayoral candidate for the party, will be available to the media on Monday,June 25 from 6-7PM at Burnaby City Hall, 4949 Canada Way.

For many in our community, home ownership is out of reach. Compared with neighbouring municipalities' aggregate home price to income ratio, Burnaby does poorly at 17.2. Coquitlam (14.3), New Westminster (11.8) and Surrey (10.9) are somewhat more affordable.

While communities like New Westminster are actively protecting their housing and Vancouver and Victoria are investing tens of millions of dollars to enhance housing stock, Burnaby has taken its hands off the steering wheel and put the development community in the driverseat. The current Mayor and Council have received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from developers in exchange for favourable planning and re-zoning decisions. These decisions have hurt hundreds of households, adding over 200 households into core housing need annually.. The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members, and Burnaby is failing its most vulnerable.

Under the current government, Burnaby has become demonstrably the most critical rental market in British Columbia and third most critical in Canada according to the Canadian Rental Housing Index . This is not simply a result of geography but a result of failed leadership and policies of all levels of government. It is also a product of the unhealthy relationship that has existed between the real estate lobby and our elected politicians. Greens have a policy of not accepting corporate donations.

In addition, even after decades in control of Council, many neighbourhood plans are incomplete, still "under review," or are in need of modernization. The people best equipped to make decisions about the future development of these neighbourhoods areneighbourhood residents. The City can and should set broad goals to ensure development of safe, sustainable and inclusive neighbourhoods, but final decisions should have neighbourhood "buy in". The current centralized planning model often excludes the stakeholders most affected and leads to an adversarial and frustrating relationship between neighbourhoods and City Hall. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that for three terms there has not been an single, independent voice to stand up for neighbourhoods or publicly question or challenge Council decisions.

If elected, a Green City Council will work cooperatively with stakeholders to put community development back into the hands of residents.

Our Three Pronged Approach

#1 PROTECT: The BGP would institute a moratorium on the demovictions in the Metrotown City Center and other vulnerable neighbourhoods, working with the planning department and community to bring forward a bold, community-centered plan where people come first , not developers. This new plan would include protecting the existing rental stock and the aspects of the neighbourhood that contribute to its character and vibrancy. It would also involve working with developers to provide comparable, truly affordable one for one rental replacement homes. This would require a full review of the Community Benefit Contribution Program with the goal to make density bonusing more transparent, more responsive to neighbourhood goals and concerns and more equitable.

#2 INVEST: The BGP will invest $10 million a year to create truly affordable housing for families and seniors. The BGP will work to get matching funds from the provincial NDP/Green and federal Liberal governments resulting in a total annual investment of $30 million; Our investment would come forth in a combination cash and land.

#3 ENGAGE: Neighbourhood consultation: The BGP would consult extensively with neighbourhoods to identify which areas would be most suitable for additional density. This would be done in a sensitive way, and only done with neighbourhood consent. We would seek to densify through logical, innovative in-fill housing that fits the character and aspirations of our neighbourhoods. A Green led council will give the community the means to re-imagine our City , enhancing neighbourhood vibrancy, connectedness and inclusivity. We would also look at expanding housing options and accommodating growth along properly serviced transportation corridors, with a goal of 20-30% of those units being dedicated to affordable rental units.

"We need to work together with all stakeholders in Burnaby to provide affordable housing for families and seniors as well. Mayor Corrigan has clearly not lifted a finger to help our citizens. The Greens will take an innovative and compassionate approach to our most urgent of issues.." Joe Keithley

Quick Facts

  • According to CMHA statistics the City of Burnaby experienced a net loss of 712 purpose built rental apartments between 2010 and 2017
  • The accumulated surplus for the City of Burnaby for 2017 was $4,047,407,225.
  • There are 34,985 tenant households in Burnaby. 45 percent of renter households( 15743) are unaffordable.
  • Over 14 percent of those households are subsidized. 2016 Census Data.
  • Ownership in the City comprises 62% of tenure while 38% rent. Home ownership has declined since 2011 while renting is becoming more prevalent.
  • Over $83.9 million had accumulated in Burnaby's Housing Fund (2017 SOFI).
  • According to the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, 42 percent of seniors who rent experience core housing need.
  • 54 percent of all senior women renters living alone experience core housing need. ( Seniors-Poverty-Report-Card ).
  • 45 percent of senior men living alone experience core housing need.
  • On average, 218 tenant households per year have fallen into core housing need.

Burnaby Greens Housing Policy

Every person has the right to safe, healthy, secure, and affordable housing. The current Mayor and council have failed to to provide healthy, secure, and affordable housing for the people of Burnaby. Their choices have created significant quantities of un-utilized and housing units, while demolishing hundreds of affordable homes that people lived in. The mayor and council have purposefully destroyed housing affordability within our city and done absolutely nothing but make our current housing emergency far worse.

We must correct this immediately. Together we must ensure that everyone has access to affordable housing that is suited to their needs. We must stop catering to the financial interests of the wealthy, developers, and speculators, and begin to make housing for people, not money.

Immediately we will:

  • Halt all demovictions and renovictions until the following conditions are met:
    • The owners must work with current residents to find suitable interim housing, and allow residents to return when the project is complete at similar rates or with a limited increase the rent.
    • Re-developments of existing rental housing must provide at least 10% more rental units in the new development.
  • Prohibit the sale of any city-owned land, so that it can be permanently kept for affordable housing and other community benefits.

Within the first year we will:

  • Initiate pro-active consultation and collaboration with all citizens to update the Official Community Plan (OCP) to reflect the desperate need for affordable housing of varied building types and forms across the city.
  • Review and streamline the permitting and approval process for rental housing (social, purpose-built rental, co-op), and small-scale developments.
  • Reduce or eliminate unnecessary parking requirements, especially for all forms of rental housing, that make housing needlessly more expensive for people.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to end homelessness in Burnaby within 5 years, and partner with neighbouring municipalities to create a cohesive effort to eliminate homelessness.
  • Create a City Housing Agency that will partner with other organizations to create affordable social, rental, co-op, and community housing, ensuring its' viability in perpetuity.
  • Establish a rental housing task force to determine how to increase our legal rental housing supply, instead of demolishing rental housing and forcing renters into illegal suites.

Within our 4-year term we will:

  • Finalize an updated Official Community Plan (OCP) with full community collaboration that guarantees:
    • A vibrant, healthy, and sustainable city for everyone.
    • Local housing and neighbourhood retail options that encourage a healthy lifestyle, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    • Abundant active transportation and transit options.
  • Alter the exclusionary zoning laws to allow for gentle infill and "missing-middle" housing that helps make our city more walkable and people-oriented.
  • Implement a city-wide 10-year Strategy for Affordable Housing.
    • This will be a specific plan guarantee housing in our city becomes and remains affordable for all citizens.
  • Create a Sustainable Development Policy that encourages re-use of materials, minimizes waste during development, creates long-term efficiency savings for future residents, and encourages sustainable transportation choices.