Burnaby Council approves BCGEU rental housing at Royal Oak SkyTrain

Apr 28 2022, 12:19 am

A sizeable mixed-use redevelopment next to SkyTrain’s Royal Oak Station with 100% rental housing for its residential component has been green-lit by Burnaby City Council.

In a 7-2 vote, City Council approved the rezoning application by British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) to redevelop the land assembly of low-storey industrial properties at 6877-6945 Palm Avenue. City councillors Dan Johnston and Colleen Jordan voted in opposition.

“Our union has been working on this project for more than two years,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in a statement.

“This vote is a major milestone that brings us one step closer to making our project a reality.”

The redevelopment will involve the construction of two towers, reaching 214 ft with 20 storeys and 189 ft with 15 storeys, along with a multi-level podium connecting the towers.

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Site plan of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Site plan of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

There would be a total of 292 rental homes, including 146 market rental units, and 146 below-market rental units at 20% under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s market median rates. Half of the units for each of the two types of rental housing tenure will also be sized for families, established as units with two or three bedrooms.

The homes will be available to the general public — not exclusively to BCGEU members.

Below the residential uses, the lower levels of the building entail 49,000 sq ft of office space, a 6,400 sq ft conference centre, a 3,700 sq ft cafe, and 1,000 sq ft print shop. Most of the building’s office space will replace the union’s leased Lower Mainland regional office at 2920 Virtual Way in Vancouver and at least a part of their main headquarters office at 4911 Canada Way in Burnaby.

A 6,300-sq-ft childcare facility for up to 49 kids would be located on the main level.

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

“Our union outlined the case for building affordable housing adjacent to major transit hubs as far back as 2014 and we are pleased today to take a step forward to implement our vision to provide a new area office for our members, and affordable housing and childcare for the community,” said Paul Finch, the BCGEU treasurer and Affordable BC campaign report co-author, and the union’s redevelopment project leader.

“This project leverages the increase in land value from upzoning to deliver more affordable housing, a policy we hope will be emulated by other municipalities across BC. We believe this model can be replicated by other unions, non-profits and faith groups to provide urgently needed housing starts amidst the current affordability crisis.”

Finch previously told Daily Hive Urbanized there has been an outpouring of support for the project from both the general public and union members.

The complex would carry a total floor area of 306,500 sq ft, establishing a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 5.26 times larger than the size of the 50,000-sq-ft lot.

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

Four underground levels will provide 375 vehicle parking stalls and 600 secure bike parking spaces. The building will have various green design features, including solar panel arrays on the tower rooftops, green roofs and rooftop gardens, and passive shading devices on the exterior of the building to reduce energy use. The project’s design firm is DA Architects & Planners.

With the rezoning now approved, construction could potentially begin in 2023 for completion in 2026. Both the housing and childcare facility will be operated by non-profit entities, separate from the union.

BCGEU acquired the land assembly in 2019 and submitted the rezoning application in 2020.

The union represents over 80,000 members in 550 bargaining units in both the private and public sectors, including in health care, education, transportation, casinos, credit unions, municipal governments, and regional districts. About one-third of its members work in the direct government service.

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

6877-6945 Palm Avenue Burnaby Royal Oak BCGEU

Artistic rendering of 6877-6945 Palm Avenue, Burnaby. (DA Architects & Planners/BCGEU)

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