Victory at City Hall! First Step to Protecting Downtown Renters

Victory at City Hall! First Step to Protecting Downtown Renters

On Monday evening, June 10th, the motion titled "Tenant Protections" submitted to council by Councillors Ruby Campbell and Nadine Nakagawa, passed unanimously. This means that the City of New Westminster will officially begin drafting new tenant relocation and protection policies inspired by the City of Burnaby. As a reminder, Burnaby's policy requires any developer demolishing an old rental building must guarantee each of the old tenants a new apartment in the new building at the same rent. It also requires that they subsidize any additional rent the tenant has to pay in the meantime while the building is being built.

This is all especially important after the province introduced Bill 47 last fall, which requires cities to allow taller, denser buildings around their skytrain stations. We definitely need to build new housing in New Westminster, but laws like the one in Burnaby mean new housing does not have to come at the expense of the people who already live here.

This first victory would not have been possible if not for all the renters who showed up to remind council about the people who live and vote in this city. Two NWTU organizers and three renters from the area spoke directly to council about the challenges renters will face if they are forced to move into expensive, market-rate housing. To all the speakers and those who had their back in the gallery: excellent work. We need to stand up for each other and our neighbours.

It's important to remember that this is only the first step.

The motion only begins the process of drafting the new law. Once the new law has been written, city council will still have to debate and vote on whether to accept it. That vote will probably happen later this year. We need to continue to put pressure on the city to ensure the new law doesn’t contain loopholes for developers to exploit. Even with Burnaby's current law, some developers have found ways to pressure tenants out or offer them sub-par units in the new building.

Based on the conversations we've had with you all so far, at the very least we want to...

  • Ensure rent support covers the entire length of construction, not just the first three years as the Burnaby law requires
  • Require an independent third party oversee the relocation process instead of someone hired by the developer
  • Require market units and affordable units to be the same size
  • Ensure affordable units are accessible to people with mobility aids
  • Ensure affordable and market units aren’t segregated, and that amenities available to market units are equally available to affordable units
  • Advocate for tenant consultation throughout the process, including shaping the new development in which they'll live
  • And more...

So we're going to continue organizing in buildings near skytrain stations throughout the summer. That includes canvassing, door knocking, and holding workshops in buildings to make sure tenants understand what is happening and have a real say in what this new law looks like. We also want to stay ahead of the curve and make sure tenants in these buildings are organized so that when redevelopments do happen, people know their rights and can protect each other if developers try to pressure them to move out.

As a reminder, here is a list of buildings we consider at risk for redevelopment after the provinces new "Transit-Oriented Redevelopment" rules from Bill 47. If you live in any of these buildings, please reply so we can make sure your neighbours are informed and organized.

If you'd like to put up a poster in your building about what's happening because of the province's new law around skytrain density, we have a poster you can print and hang in your building below.

Watch The Meeting

Want to watch the speakers and debate at council? Thanks to the city, a complete recording is available. We have edited it down to the important sections and uploaded it below.

You can watch the complete recording on the city website below.

During city council's debate, Councillor Fontaine of the New West Progressive Party attempted to amend the motion, removing reference to Burnaby as a model and adding a requirement that property owners and landlords be consulted on any new policy. As justification, he said Burnaby should not be considered a poster child for tenant protections after the disaster at Metrotown where many renters lost their homes when the new towers went up. What this does not consider is that it was precisely because of the disaster at Metrotown that tenant groups in Burnaby helped unseat Derek Corrigan and usher in Mayor Mike Hurley's task force, composed of tenant advocates and unions as well as private developers.

It was the hard work of tenant advocates and union representatives within the mayor’s task force, arguing with developers and insisting on first refusal rights and rent support that won these important policy innovations.

Burnaby was selected specifically because its current laws were designed to address redevelopments around skytrains like we saw in Metrotown. No other municipality has a by-law that guarantees tenants units in the newly developed building. This and more information was delivered to council in Professor Elliot Rossiter's policy brief ahead of the meeting. The amendment was defeated by the rest of council and the original motion, focusing on Burnaby as a model and consulting tenants in creating a new law, passed in its original form.

Get Involved

Want to join our volunteer, renter-led action team to help? Send us an email at and let's make this happen.

More Information

If you'd like to read our press release about what happened at city council, find it here.

Also attached is Douglas College Professor Elliot Rossiter's policy brief, which outlines the importance of these protections. It was prepared with renters in New Westminster as part of his housing research project "Changing the Conversation".


So far the win at city council has been covered by both CBC, Global TV, and the New West Record.

New Westminster council votes to boost renters’ protection as B.C. pushes for transit-hub development | CBC News
Council in New Westminster, B.C., has passed a motion to beef up renters’ protections after new provincial legislation on housing density raised fears that tenants in affordable homes could be forced out by redevelopment.
New Westminster, B.C., council votes to boost renters’ protection
New Westminster is following in Burnaby’s footsteps when it comes to imposing new protections for renters. The move comes after the province passed legislation aimed at increasing housing density around transit hubs. As CBC’s Jon Hernandez reports, housing advocates say protections are needed as the…
Calls to increase renter protections | Watch News Videos Online
Watch Calls to increase renter protections Video Online, on
New West to update its tenant protection and relocation policies
Burnaby’s tenant assistance policy to be used as a model in New Westminster – but some tenants would like a Burnaby But Better plan developed.