Burnaby Demovictions: Political Opposition to Host Town Hall Meeting – Dec 2 (Fri)

From a media release

Burnaby Demovictions: Political Opposition to Host Town Hall Meeting

November 29, 2016 – Burnaby – Burnaby First Coalition (BFC) will host a town hall meeting to discuss possible alternatives to the planned mass rezoning, demolition and eviction of thousands of lower income families from Metrotown’s Maywood neighbourhood sanctioned by Burnaby’s Mayor and Council. BFC is an unaffiliated municipal political party that unites residents of diverse backgrounds seeking fairness, inclusion and transparency in local government.
 
The event will be held at Metrotown Library meeting room 6100 Willingdon Avenue Friday December 2, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. 

The meeting will provide an opportunity to hear the background to the demovictions and highlight possible planning alternatives. Residents will have the opportunity to share their ideas on city planning.

The  Local Government Act (LGA) requires that re-zonings be consistent with Official Community Plans. However, the Metrotown Community Plan states that the Maywood low-rises “should be protected”, not demolished, and sets maximum density and building height far below those that Council has approved.

BFC has supported a complaint to the BC Office of the Ombudsperson regarding apparent violations of the LGA in Burnaby re-zonings.

In December 2010 Council passed a “text amendment”  calling for amendments to the Official Community Plan and public consultations aimed at supersizing density in Burnaby’s four town centres. Consultations were to begin “immediately” with Metrotown. However the consultation only began in July 2016 following the complaint to the Ombudsperson, and the amendments have never been made. Planning staff have repeatedly claimed they are too busy. Meanwhile dozens of supersize towers have been built and hundreds of lower income families evicted.

Highlights from BFC’s “Working Discussion Paper on Residential Planning and Demovictions” include:

 – immediately halt all re-zonings that are not consistent with the existing Official Community Plan.
 
– as required under the Local Government Act, hold public consultations and then amend the Official Community Plan prior to approving re-zonings. Courts have consistently found that consultations must not have predetermined outcomes, and must be conducted sincerely in good faith.

– require “one-to-one” replacement units at same rental cost when redevelopment occurs.

– elimination of democracy-corrupting donations to municipal parties from unions and corporations.

– review Burnaby’s obligations under MetroVancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) and Council’s decision to put almost all new density in the four town Centres. The RGS has a forty year time frame and there is ample non-residential industrial, non-profit groups’, and government land in Burnaby that could in time incorporate housing.
 
– density should be defined by population per hectare since the goal is to accommodate increased population. Burnaby currently measures density by the number of housing “units” – of any size – per hectacre. This leads to evicting people in order to construct small, frequently empty, condo “units” in the name of meeting RGS density goals.

– consider allowing mixed-use zoning, combining housing with property now used for light industry, municipal government, libraries, schools, non-profit groups such as faith groups, and service organizations.

– redefine “affordable housing” in Burnaby bylaws: currently any designated rental unit is counted as “affordable” because there is no mention of actual rental costs in the bylaw.

BFC sees many alternatives to the mass demolition of the Maywood community and the construction of forests of supersized towers. Burnaby has acres of extremely low density, non-residential, non-park land, much of it on major transit corridors, including Sky Train lines, Hastings Street, Willingdon Avenue, and even right at City Hall. Council re-zones for towers up to 70 storeys high while permitting new auto malls just down the street – hardly a model for “transit oriented development”.
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