On Tuesday November 24th, protesters from the “Stop Demo-victions Burnaby” campaign brought their message to Burnaby City Hall. Chanting and singing, they marched into council chambers during the proceedings of a public hearing for the demolition rezoning of four more affordable rental housing apartment buildings in the Metrotown area. Despite public pressure, Burnaby City Council rubber-stamped the rezoning application, continuing its policy of displacement and fueling the speculative environment in the city.
While developers make millions of dollars on development deals in Burnaby, hundreds of low-income renters are forced out and put at risk of homelessness. “If you were building something that my family could afford, then it would be no problem, but you are not,” said David, one of the speakers at the hearing who has already had his building in Metrotown rezoned and is awaiting eviction. “Where are we going to go? Put people first. We need homes. Save our homes.”
Towards the end of the hearing, a woman named Tora told City Council about her 90 year old mother who would be displaced if the rezoning went ahead. “She has survived this long because her children live around her, just a few blocks away. All the medical facilities she needs are within 1 or 2 blocks. However, she will soon get a notice of eviction. We are really lost and we don’t know where to take her. She is low-income, she can’t afford the rent in other buildings in the area. My mother has nowhere to go to.”
In early November Burnaby Council received a report from staff affirming their policy of demo-victing hundreds of low-income working families, including a disproportionate number of new migrants and refugees. This report on “growth and housing policy” was drafted without consultation with anyone who will be affected by mass evictions and demolitions through rezonings. It denies city council’s responsibility to protect renters against an out-of-control speculation and condo tower development boom, and misleads residents about the powers city hall has to stop rezoning-driven demolitions of apartments.
Members of the Stop Demo-victions Burnaby campaign – a coalition of ACORN Burnaby, the Alliance Against Displacement, and the Metrotown Residents Association – will continue their fight for the homes of renters in the city.