Reported by Melanie Green
Slideshow photos from protests in Burnaby against demolitions. All photos courtesy of BC ACORN, who organized the campaign along with the Alliance Against Displacement in Burnaby.
Burnaby residents are set to speak against a proposed rezoning, demolition and eviction plan at city council on Dec. 2.
The meeting was organized by the unaffiliated municipal party, Burnaby First Coalition. These planned developments, in four town centres, are high-density, which has angered some residents who say council is deviating from the official community plan.
Increased demolitions cause fear
‘Demovicted’ from his Burnaby apartment three months ago, Matthew Hunter moved a few blocks away to the corner of Maywood and McKay, fearing the same fate. Hunter, a renter and housing advocate, said his story of displacement is the reason he plans to place relentless pressure on the city.
“The support is very high […] All my neighbours are upset about it,” he said, adding that the people that show up to city council meetings are a small fraction of those opposed.
In a press release, the BFC said they see, “many alternatives to the mass demolition of the Maywood community and the construction of forests of supersized tower. Burnaby has acres of extremely low density, non-residential, non-park land, much of it on transit corridors.”
Rick McGowan researched the issue for the Metrotown Residents’ Association, and he is the Green Party candidate in the upcoming provincial election, believes the city’s incentive is development costs and complacent re-election.
His solution – do not rezone. Instead, densify industrial areas and those around transit corridors for “inclusionary zoning”.
“This is really bad because it’s wiping out existing communities and replacing [them] with people that are not here yet,” McGowan said.
City unlikely to solve the problem
According to Burnaby city councillor, Paul McDonell, more than 1,500 rental units have been created but the market rent is still high, meaning more need to be built and available before prices drop.
“It’s a vicious circle. We don’t need slums, we want integration into the community,” McDonell said.
He encouraged people to appeal to the federal government for an affordable housing plan, where provinces will receive funding, and civic governments can enact better infrastructure. He did not see increasing taxes as a solution to pay for social housing.
“Cities just can’t do it because they don’t have the money.”