Burnaby’s mayor is promising help is on the way for residents who feel like they can’t afford to live in the city, especially with the recent rise in displacements due to demovictions.
But he also thinks the province shouldn’t force municipalities to build the type of housing those residents need.
Mike Hurley made the comments on Focus BC Friday, ahead of a weekend that saw protests against demovictions in the Metrotown area that have forced dozens out of their homes.
WATCH: Alliance Against Displacement holds demoviction rally in Burnaby
“I don’t really think that should be up to the province,” Hurley said when asked if he would support regulation on the types of homes built around quickly-growing transit hubs, a strategy Burnaby is currently pursuing.
“I think the cities need to make those decisions themselves, based on their best information and dealing with Metro Vancouver.”
On that front, Hurley said his housing task force is continuing to meet with citizens to develop solutions to the problem of affordable housing in Burnaby, and expects to introduce some “quick starts” based on their work by June.
Reports on the task force’s progress are also being submitted regularly to council and made available on the city’s website.
“We do want to get moving, and we want to ensure we’re not holding up the building of low-cost and medium-cost housing for too long,” he said.
But Burnaby-based housing advocacy group Alliance Against Displacement says Hurley’s council is working too slowly to address the needs of residents who have been waiting years for those solutions.
The group has been holding rallies outside City Hall and around the Metrotown area since January, including one held Saturday meant to be in solidarity with housing advocates in Germany, but that also touched on the problems at home.
WATCH: Coverage of demovictions in Burnaby on Globalnews.ca
“Our message is pretty simple: if people get together and build solidarity beyond borders, we have a chance to stop evictions,” Alliance Against Displacement member Cecile Revaux said.
Revaux said Alliance Against Displacement was created largely because of the demoviction problem in Burnaby, and while it may be too late to see something like a rent cap or freeze, they would like to see policies that stop evictions from taking place.
The group has also protested the inclusion of developers on the task force, while appearing to ignore comments from renters themselves.
“As long as housing is being built to make a profit, people will face displacement and will always have the threat of eviction hanging over their heads,” Revaux said.
For his part, Hurley is defending the task force and said he intends to deliver on his central campaign promise to get more affordable housing built quickly.
“If we don’t have a really serious look at having homes that regular people can afford within our city, it’s going to get even more outrageous,” he said.
“It’s a real concern.”
— With files from Richard Zussman and Srushti Gangdev