Burnaby pre-zones 6 city-owned lots to fast-track affordable housing

“I want this moving as quickly as I can,” mayor says

Burnaby moved to “pre-zone” six city-owned lots Monday in an effort to fast-track its plans to build some 1,300 affordable homes in partnership with senior levels of government. 

The six properties scattered throughout the city could become home to hundreds of non-market apartments and townhomes if the municipality successfully strikes a deal with BC Housing.

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Each site will need to be rezoned again once a specific project is planned, but the city is pre-zoning them to allow staff to move ahead with preparatory work, Mayor Mike Hurley said. 

The move also shows BC Housing just how committed the city is to this plan, he said.  

“I want this moving as quickly as I can,” he said. 

The six sites are located in the Metrotown, Edmonds, Montecito and central (near city hall) neighbourhoods. 

The city had previously considered selling some of the properties to private developers, as it has done, controversially, with other sites. But those days are done, Hurley said. 

“We just don’t believe in selling city land anymore,” he said. “We want to keep it as an asset forever.”

Burnaby is also eyeing a seventh site for future affordable housing development: the location of a Canada Post office on a 2,800 square metre (31,000 square foot) Sussex Avenue lot in Metrotown. 

The property is owned by the federal government, meaning the city would need to team up with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to develop housing there. And, Hurley said, it may prove harder to strike a deal with the federal housing agency than its provincial counterpart.

“CMHC is always a moving target,” he said, adding he may need to make a trip to Ottawa to “get the ball rolling.”    

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