The Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign needs your help! As early as the end of November, Burnaby City Council plans to vote on a new development plan for Metrotown. If they pass it, the majority renter, lowest-income neighbourhood in Burnaby will be terminated with the stroke of a pen. The new plan will designate three thousand apartment units in Metrotown for rezoning by raising their legally allowable building heights from three to twelve (or more) stories. This Plan will demovict and displace more than 6,000 renters and further diminish the lower mainland’s shrinking rental stock by handing them over to condo development corporations for massive profit. But it is not too late to stop this catastrophic loss of rental apartments.
What you can do to save three thousand homes
Now is the time to stop the Metrotown Plan. There are three things you can do to help.
1) Endorse the messages from Metrotown renters
We are asking for your community group, union, or faith group to write to firstname.lastname@example.org to endorse the following message:
a) Demovict the plan! Save three thousand homes
Burnaby’s proposed “Downtown” Metrotown Plan will directly cause the loss of 3,000 purpose-built rental apartment units and the displacement of thousands of current residents. We call on Burnaby Council to reject the plan and go back to the drawing board to develop a plan in partnership with the affected community. While we recognize that no municipality can solve the housing and homelessness crisis on its own but Burnaby’s growth strategies must not come through the displacement of the existing community.
b) Placement before displacement
Hundreds of renters are already scheduled to be evicted through rezonings permitted under Burnaby’s old Metrotown plan, and Burnaby’s existing tenant relocation supports are inadequate. We call on Burnaby council to ensure every renter is placed in new housing they can afford before they are displaced from their existing homes.
2) Sign and circulate the petition for a moratorium on demolitions of rental housing
The Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign has petitioned door-to-door and on the street in Metrotown and we hope to submit our petition to Burnaby Council with the call to stop the new plan. While our focus for the fall is on stopping the Plan, demovictions have become a crisis under the old plan so we also must continue to call for a moratorium on Burnaby’s rezonings of rental apartments.
3) Promote and march in the demonstration on November 12
We are calling for a big demonstration on Saturday November 12 to give a message that there is widespread opposition to the “Downtown” Metrotown Plan, and that it is more than a Burnaby issue.
We are asking supporters to circulate the call-out and poster, to make your own banner, and to come march together to save three thousand homes.
Demovictions are displacement
Since the spring of 2015 the Stop Demovictions Burnaby Campaign has organized against the site-by-site loss of purpose built rental apartments in the Metrotown area. Hundreds of rental apartments have been or will soon be demovicted – evicted by demolition – for expensive condo towers, pushing over a thousand people out of their homes and their community. Faced with soaring rental costs, low vacancy rates, and landlord discrimination, some residents – particularly racialized people and women with children – are forced into hidden homelessness, moving onto friends couches or into their cars. Although Burnaby’s Mayor and Council grant permission for demovictions through their rezoning powers, they consistently refuse to recognize that their policies are creating a crisis for hundreds of people vulnerable to forced displacement and homelessness.
Demovictions on steroids
As bad as Burnaby’s site-by-site rezoning policies have been, Council’s proposed “Downtown” Metrotown Plan will be much worse. The proposed Plan will streamline rezonings for city bureaucrats by providing a legal policy for the whole area (from Boundary to Royal Oak and Kingsway to Imperial), and certainty for investors by laying out a legal guarantee that if they buy the properties and meet the conditions, they can have their towers. City planners acknowledge that there are nearly 3000 rental units in low-rise apartment buildings in this area, and the proposed up-zoning of these homes will directly cause the displacement of approximately six thousand people. The “Downtown” Metrotown Plan will be demoviction on steroids.
More than a Burnaby issue
The mass rezoning and condoization of the Metrotown area will also affect the housing security of renters throughout the whole lower mainland. A recently released report on affordability and homelessness in Vancouver shows that extremely low vacancy rates are pushing rental costs upwards, and this is most acute at the lower-rent range. With a BC Housing waiting list of over 10,000 and a rapidly diminishing number of lower rate rental units available, more and more people are forced into homelessness or unhealthy, precarious shelter options. Meanwhile in Burnaby, the “Downtown” Metrotown Plan will threaten the demoviction of three thousand units of purpose-built apartment units from the lower mainland’s already stressed rental housing stock during this housing crisis.