A year of the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for renters in New West. Many people have been isolated in their homes, lost income due to shut downs or disruptions, and struggled with negligent or abusive landlords. We all deserve to have safe, affordable housing and the more affordable rental housing available, the less competition there is for everyone trying to find somewhere affordable to live.
Glenbrooke North Affordable Housing Project
The Aboriginal Land Trust, alongside the Swahili Vision International Association, has proposed building a new 96-unit rental building on 6th Street (pictured above). The new construction would provide affordable, multi-generational rental housing for Indigenous and Swahili residents of the New Westminster community.
In order for them to start construction, the city needs to approve a rezoning application and make an amendment to the Official Community Plan. Residents in New West strongly support building more affordable housing. According to the Be Heard New West COVID-19 Recovery Survey, the most frequently mentioned concern among respondents was affordable housing, and over 60% were in favor of moving faster than was originally planned to build it.
However, some home owners in the Glenbrooke North neighborhood have submitted a petition to the city opposing the project. They claim that the 6-story building might cast unwanted shadows on their property and that the building is in violation of the Official Community Plan. You may have seen their lawn signs around the neighborhood.
While the home owners say we need to "stick to the plan", this plan was created in 2017. Since then, the housing crises in the city has only deepened, not to mention the crisis of a global pandemic. This plan was designed to be amended to meet the changing needs of our community. So far the city has had numerous consultations and surveys, following the rules they set out originally to change the plan if needed. The plan also emphasizes that partnering with non-profits to build affordable housing is one of the city's central priorities. The need for affordable housing in New Westminster has increased over the last year and the Community Plan should be amended to help meet that need.
Also, according to a recent letter submitted to the New West Record, it seems the petition sent out to home owners in the area failed to mention to them that the project they were opposing was an affordable housing project for low-income families.
Decisions about affordable housing require consultation with the entire community. So far the voices of homeowners have been heard, but they should not be the only voice. All renters stand to benefit from more affordable housing that decreases the pressure on the rental market so we can all live affordably. The voices of renters must be heard too.
Join Us in Bringing Renter Voices to the City
Members of the New West Tenants Union will be attending the final public hearing on the project on May 31st and we would like to bring as many renters as possible to join us with their perspective. If you are interested in participating or have any questions or thoughts, please contact us! We'd love to have you along.