An Item from Ian: Great quote by the Burnaby Mayor (not) on people getting evicted with no affordable place to go:
“And so it’s like if you want to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs.”
But the pressure is increasing on Burnaby.
Surprisingly extensive coverage by CKNW on the ‘demoviction’ crisis in Burnaby’s Metrotown:
In The Sun, a story on the provincial Ombudsman’s inquiry into the municipality’s rezoning process in its town centres:
Burnaby’s plans to “supersize” its four town centres by demolishing old rental stock in favour of high-rise condominiums will be the focus of an investigation by the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson.
The probe is in response to a complaint from Helen Ward, chairwoman of the Burnaby First Coalition, who argues that the city did not follow due process in approving higher density, particularly around Metrotown, but also in the Brentwood, Edmonds and Lougheed town centres. The city’s decision has resulted in the demolition of older, three-story apartment buildings in Metrotown’s Mayfair neighbourhood and led to the loss of housing for hundreds of tenants, many of them low-income.
Corrigan’s response is the same as it is with providing shelters for the homeless: this is a provincial government responsibility – and it’s a mistake for local government to take the pressure off or assume responsibility for addressing affordability with their own resources or tools, other than facilitating supply.
He is, of course, right about provincial responsibility. But the Province has made it more than clear with regard to critical Metro issues – notably housing and transit- that they will not respond until local government takes on a significant part of the load. Otherwise, they have no political incentive to respond.
There is one area, however, in which the Province has sole authority about which they have so far expressed disinterest. Throughout the media, stories have documented the giant loophole of fixed-term leases used by landlords to avoid rent-increase restrictions. From the Courier:
Then came the news from their landlord of a 10 per cent increase in their rent — $200 a month. Why? Their fixed-term lease had expired at the end of July, opening a legal loophole increasingly being exploited by landlords who jack the rent by far more than the annual maximum of inflation plus two per cent as stipulated by the Residential Tenancy Act. The landlord’s justification? He’s selling a house down the block that fetches $2,450 for a similar suite. “Market rate, I guess,” said my friend.
As far as I know, Liberal MLAs in Vancouver have had no response or statements on rental issues, and no one seems to want to ask them. There have been no demonstrations in front of their offices. Meanwhile, the local Left helps take the pressure off the Province by focusing the protest on City Halls.
As we have seen with the foreign-ownership tax, so long as the issue is seen as a marginal one affecting only Vancouver or Metro, the Province is absent – until the polls, the media and the Opposition force a response.