Burnaby housing task force floats 10 "quick" ideas for affordability

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      The city of Vancouver usually receives the most discussion of the region’s housing crisis. But every municipality across the Lower Mainland has seen home prices increase sharply in recent years. Everyone is looking for new ideas about how to make housing more affordable.

      Today (May 13), Burnaby’s Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing issued a short report with 10 “quick start” ideas it says could “build momentum and engage residents in a discussion on trade-offs and solutions to improve housing affordability and accessibility”.

      First on the list is for Burnaby to create a modular-housing strategy.

      Last March, Vancouver announced it had completed 600 units of modular housing over the preceding 12 months. The city did it with financial support from the province and MLAs stood with Mayor Kennedy Stewart to celebrate the milestone. Burnaby’s housing task force has now recommended its city pursue a similar partnership with BC Housing.

      Other task force proposals involve enhanced protections for renters and new regulations for the rental market. It’s suggested restrictions for short-term rentals (like those listed on Airbnb), a “robust” tenant-relocation policy, and the establishment of a “rent bank”, where tenants who are temporarily short on cash could secure a no-cost loan.

      Most of the remaining 10 quick-start ideas relate to housing supply.

      They involve increasing density, pursing partnerships that will lead to more non-market rental housing, and simplifying zoning and construction requirements for alternative housing types including laneway homes and duplexes.

      The group also recommends that Burnaby begin collecting data on empty homes.

      According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the price of a single-detached home in Burnaby North increased 105 percent over the last 10 years to a benchmark price of $1.39 million. Meanwhile, the price of a home in Burnaby South grew 129.1 percent to a benchmark price of $1.53 million.

      The task force’s recommendations are not meant to serve as a finalized list, but rather to promote discussion and feedback. A second report on quick-start ideas will go to council in July.

      “These quick starts are an important step and respond to residents’ call for rapid action on housing,” councillor Pietro Calendino, task force chair, said quoted in a media release. “More ideas are still under consideration and we continue to seek community input as we prepare the final report. This keeps the momentum going, and singles out some things we can start on today.”

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