British Columbia

City of Burnaby lists 10 'quick starts' for more affordable housing

"The important thing is that we actually see some action from it and not just to have a report sit on the shelf."

A final report by the city's task force expected later in the summer

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)

Creating a modular housing strategy, establishing a rent bank, and gathering data on empty homes: they're all things the city of Burnaby doesn't have right now, but that a task force is recommending they move quickly on. 

Those were three of the 10 recommendations for "quick starts" put forward by the city's task force on community housing in its interim report released to council Monday night. 

The other seven recommended actions were:

  • Regulations around short-term rental housing.
  • Create a tenant assistance policy.
  • Allow for additional density in projects that provide below-market rental housing.
  • More partnerships with BC Housing, non-profits and developers for non-market housing.
  • Identifying more city lands that could be leased for non-market housing.
  • Simplify zoning to "make it easier to build small-scale multiple family homes."
  • Commission a land value capture study.

The full interim report can be read here

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, whose promise of a task force was a central part of his victorious election campaign in October, said he was happy that the diverse group — which includes both developers and housing activists — had found common ground. 

"It's been a broad spectrum of ideas in the room and, at times, ideas have clashed," he said.  

"I've asked people to put aside their own special interests in the interest of developing an overall housing strategy for Burnaby, and I think it's worked very well to this point."

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley was elected on a promise of tackling the city's affordable housing crunch. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

More words

Hurley acknowledged that the recommendations didn't include any policies or approaches that haven't been seen elsewhere in the region, but said it was a broad strategy the city could begin moving on quickly.

"We're trying to take what we've seen as the best from others up to this point," he said. 

"The important thing is that we actually see some action from it and not just to have a report sit on the shelf."

District of North Vancouver Coun. Matthew Bond, who has advocated for more affordable housing in his municipality, agreed the report was "a good summary of all the stuff people in the region are already doing."

"A lot of the work has been done, and it's really up to each municipality to identify their needs ... we don't all want to be doing the same work over and over again, because the tools are the same " he said. 

However, he cautioned that council's greater challenge would come when it is forced to take action on specific projects. 

"As soon as you kind of get to the rezoning process, or proposing those types of changes in local neighbourhoods, you can sometimes get significant and sometimes unexpected pushback."

A survey on the recommendations is now available on the city's website. The task force is expected to release its final report in July. 

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