1 in 5 units in all future Burnaby residential buildings required to be rentals

May 28 2019, 1:49 pm

Sweeping new policies that create and protect new rental housing supply within the City of Burnaby have been approved by city council.

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On Monday evening, council approved a four-pillared rental housing policy that stands apart from the policies found in not only other Metro Vancouver municipalities but also across Canada.

“This is about ensuring Burnaby is a city with vibrant, diverse neighbourhoods, where everyone feels at home,” said Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley, in a statement. “This would mean people can find a place to rent that is affordable, and it would give them options to live in all areas of our city.”

The most significant of these policies is the new requirement of a minimum of 20% of the units in all future multi-family developments — condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes, etc. — be set aside for purpose-built rental housing, which could potentially create thousands of new rental homes over the coming years.

Another policy entails rezoning existing purpose-built rental housing sites that are currently zoned for non-rental purposes into rental-only zoning. These sites are at risk of being demolished and redeveloped into new buildings that do not include any rental housing.

There would also be a new requirement for a one-to-one replacement of all rental units lost from redevelopment in Burnaby’s four town centres, plus added protections for existing tenants such as first right of refusal to the new units at the same rent rates and the provision of accommodations during construction.

Additionally, rental housing can be added to commercial districts on sites that do not fully utilize their commercial density permitted by zoning.

In an interview with Daily Hive on Friday, Johannes Schumann, the assistant director of Current Planning with the City of Burnaby, said the municipal government has not set any specific target for the creation of the new units, except that they’d like to see as many and as soon as possible.

“We’ve looked at our overall OCP modelling and it is consistent with our growth goals in the regional growth strategy,” he said.

“It will result in increases to the overall density and population, but it will also be absorbed relatively easily in our existing plans. It is not something out of left field, it is not going to structurally change the neighbourhoods.”

The new policies were developed based on the lessons learnt from the rental policies of surrounding municipalities, particularly the City of Vancouver.

The City of Burnaby believes these policies will not only be effective, but they will also provide clarity and eliminate any confusion in the development industry.

“From our perspective, it is no good if it is a good policy that sits on a shelf. It has to be implementable,” continued Schumann. “We grappled with the economics, viability, and feasibility of this approach, and in looking at economic analysis. We feel this is very implementable.”

“If we apply this, it’ll be right across the city. Everyone will know the obligation, everybody has to deliver, and it’s clear. There’s no ‘this developer gets this, this developer doesn’t get that, and this developer isn’t required to do it.’”

For further details on the policies, read Daily Hive’s previous feature story.

Monday’s approval sets in motion forthcoming bylaw changes, which will be reviewed by council at a later date for final approval. This is complemented by the Mayors’ Task Force on Community Housing, which recently proposed 10 Quick Starts to help enable housing affordability.

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