Burnaby continues to build, build, build, and housing prices are still in the millions.
What were the big local housing and development stories of 2023?
Burnaby’s rental crisis
Renters and rental housing made the news multiple times this year – and it’s not a surprise considering Burnaby has oscillated between being the second or third worst city in the country when it comes to rent prices in 2023.
A single mom came out to tell councillors at a public hearing in June about how an upcoming redevelopment at 6645 Dow Ave. in Metrotown would mean her family’s eviction.
“I am employed full-time. I’m a single mother of two children, and I’m about to be homeless,” MariLou Gazzingan told councillors.
She’s not covered by the city’s tenant assistance policy (TAP), which is meant to protect renters displaced by development.
Earlier in the same public hearing, councillors heard from Burnaby residents opposed to a development of non-market rentals at 7388 Southwynde Ave. in South Burnaby.
Neighbour’s expressed complaints about losing green space, traffic congestion, impacting “residential peace,” concerns the daycare would cause overcrowding on the street and a loss of parking, and concerns about altering “community character.”
One resident called the proposed six-storey building “a monstrosity” and “an eyesore.”
Burnaby’s Housing Needs Report has a goal for the city to add 3,050 purpose-built rentals by 2025.
Instead, hundreds of rental units have been lost since 2020, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data.
Burnaby mayor slams new provincial housing legislation
Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley minced no words in speaking on the province’s new provincial housing legislation, introduced this November.
He expressed concerns about the possibility of speculation and asked whether land values on single-family lots could double or triple.
He also asked where the funding would come from to improve the infrastructure like pipes for sewer and water.
Still, the city has moved on one front to align with the new rules: they cancelled public hearings for around 90 per cent of new developments in December as long as the projects are in line with the city’s Official Community Plan.
Massive Metrotown development approved, despite small unit sizes
One of 2022’s big stories was the ‘tiny’ unit sizes in the Concord Metrotown development.
Mayor Mike Hurley and Coun. Joe Keithley opposed the project at the ‘second reading’ stage of development due to the sizes of some non-market rental studios at 323 square feet.
But they both gave their approval at the next stages, and Phase 2 of the Concord Metrotown project was unanimously approved in October.
The project is estimated to bring almost 2,200 new homes onto the market.
Revs Bowling bought
In April, news broke that a developer had bought the property where the last bowling alley in Burnaby stands.
Revs Entertainment has been on the site at 5502 Lougheed Hwy. for more than 60 years.
The property was purchased by Keltic Canada Development, which has applied to develop the site with three highrise towers.
The bowling alley, formerly known as Brentwood Lanes, will continue to run until further notice.
Burnaby Housing Authority approved
Burnaby is in the final stages of getting its own housing corporation set up, which is intended to be a “one-stop shop” to develop housing and fill the gaps in the city’s housing supply.
The housing authority is intended to focus on building and managing non-market rentals, according to the city.
While council is unanimously supportive of the idea in principle, Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said he had “major concerns” with creating a separate corporation that he said could lead to bureaucratic bloat and leave the city on the hook for billions of dollars worth in loans.
Burnaby legalizes laneways
After more than a year of planning, Burnaby began accepting applications for laneway housing in September.
Burnaby laneway home regulations state the homes can be up to two storeys tall and between 350 sq. ft. and 1,507 sq. ft. (depending on the lot). There’s a variety of ways laneway homes can be built.
Staff expect these homes to be built as intergenerational housing for parents or children to live on a family-owned lot.
‘Skinny little house’ goes TikTok viral
A Burnaby home up for sale went viral on TikTok earlier this year for its unusual narrow property size at 16.5 feet wide.