British Columbia

A people's plan for Metrotown development

A group fighting what it calls demovictions in Burnaby says single-family homeowners should move out to make way for rezoning and new non-market low-rise buildings.

Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign has a strategy to increase housing density without displacing renters

Advocates for residents of low-cost rentals in Burnaby want to stop affordable housing from being torn down to make way for luxury towers. (Belle Puri/CBC)

A Burnaby advocacy group fighting the replacement of affordable rental buildings with expensive luxury towers says it has a plan to reverse the trend. 

The strategy developed by members of Stop Demovictions Burnaby is a three-part plan designed to increase housing density in the Metrotown neighbourhood without displacing low-income tenants. 

"Our opposition to Burnaby City Council's logic is not opposition to new housing developments or increased density," said Stop Demovictions Burnaby spokesperson Zoe Luba. 

"It is opposition to the premise that development can only happen through displacement." 

The plan 

'A People's Plan For Metrotown' targets single-family homes along major traffic corridors for rezoning to yield the highest ratio of increased density per lot. 

"If the city was to rezone these single-family lots, the residents could be greatly compensated through a government buyout at inflated market rates," said Luba. 

"They could easily purchase houses elsewhere or purchase houses maybe even in the same neighbourhood." 

Current residents of existing walk-up apartments in the area would be given priority for tenancy in the new, non-market buildings. 

In the final step of the plan, the older stock of market-rental apartments would be individually rezoned, demolished and redeveloped into new non-market housing. 

According to authors of the plan, the process for development without displacement would maximize density at a human scale, replace aging and insecure market rental apartments with better quality, more affordable and more secure non-market buildings, and make space for more working class and low-income residents. 

We won't go

The plan also proposes that residents fight to keep their homes by refusing to obey eviction notices. 

"We're going to stop protesting and appealing for change," said Ivan Drury of the group Alliance Against Displacement

Instead, said Drury, vulnerable residents will work to stop the mass displacement of the "renter working class" by organizing an eviction defence network.

"If all the people in an entire building refuse to obey an eviction order we'll break the back of the eviction process in British Columbia." he said. 

Drury says canvassers will go door-to-door in the area bounded by Boundary Road, Royal Oak Avenue, Imperial Street and Kingsway Avenue to recruit renters who will refuse to move. 

The goal, he says, is to create a political crisis that will morph into a legal crisis and tie-up the issue of evictions in the court system. 


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