Housing protesters are back in Burnaby today, with the issue of so-called Metrotown “demovictions” back in the spotlight.
Burnaby Council is expected to vote on a sweeping rezoning plan for the area at the end of the month that would see dozens of blocks designated for mid to high-rise towers.
The city says the move would transform the neighbourhood into Burnaby’s official “downtown,” and is needed to capitalize on the SkyTrain by moving towards transit-oriented development.
But housing activists, gathering today at the Metrotown SkyTrain station, are demanding Council vote down the plan.
Natalie Knight says, if the plan gets the green light, nearly 6,000 residents in low-income units will be affected.
“The effects of displacement on women and how that causes single mothers and women to stay in potentially abusive relationships to maintain their housing situation when there is such a tough pressure on low-income housing stock in the area” are particularly concerning, she says.
WATCH: No Vacancy: The face of Metrotown demovictions
Knight says the city is moving forward too quickly with its plans, and hasn’t accounted for where the displaced residents will go.
“Existing rezoning laws in place right now in Burnaby have already caused evictions in the hundreds of residents in the area, and this is separate from the downtown Metrotown plan. So, our second demand is that city council takes a real effort and takes a real look at how to rehouse these folks who are going to be evicted from their home,” she says.
If the plan is voted through, every rental apartment between Boundary Road and Royal Oak could be knocked down in exchange for high-rise residential towers.
Knight says nearly 3,000 rental units are in jeopardy. The CMHC’s most recent figures put the rental vacancy rate in the city at 1.2%.
With files from Emily Lazatin