LETTERS: Government responds on affordable housing in Burnaby

 I’d like to address recent media coverage on the challenge of affordable housing in Burnaby, an issue being faced by many communities in B.C.
Make no mistake – creating and preserving affordable housing is, and will continue to be, an absolute priority for this government. We are committed to work in partnership with Burnaby to create more affordable housing in the region, and this commitment is not new.
In late 2015, partners broke ground on a new site for George Derby Manor, where 122 seniors will soon live independently with access to supports and services. This development was possible because of the partnerships between the province, the city and the non-profit provider, the George Derby Society. The B.C. government is arranging approximately $29 million in construction financing for this project.
In 2014, B.C. Housing partnered with private market developer Ledingham McAllister, to replace 90 aging units at Cedar Place – an affordable rental property for families built in 1971. This project will replace existing units and also add 91 new units of seniors’ housing. Current tenants can stay in their homes while the new building is under construction and then move to brand new units once it’s complete.
With support from the city, and in partnership with the private sector, we were able to increase density and provide more housing for those in need. The province will be contributing approximately $33 million for this project.
There are also more affordable units to come. The province recently committed $500 million for affordable rental housing in B.C. We will soon announce projects from municipalities and non-profits across the province that will receive this funding – including some in Burnaby.
Our work in the city is not just about units, however. Last year, we invested over $30 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for approximately 6,800 households in Burnaby. This included seniors, families, people with special needs, those who are homeless or at risk, and women and children fleeing violence.
In addition, the province is prepared to commit funding for a supportive housing development in Burnaby that includes both shelter spaces and transitional housing.
Agencies that serve Burnaby’s homeless population have been advocating for this type of development for some time. We simply ask that the city identify an appropriate piece of land.
I have personally read the City of Burnaby’s housing profile report, and the province is reviewing its recommendations in the context of all provincial housing priorities.
Rest assured, your city is not forgotten.
We will continue to work with the municipality and other partners to find innovative yet pragmatic solutions to the complex issue of housing affordability in B.C.
Rich Coleman, Deputy Premier, Minister Responsible for Housing

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