Burnaby’s feverish pace of development is set to smash a billion-dollar record set last year.
The city granted $1 billion in building permits in 2017, breaking its 2015 record of $879 million. By the end of June, only halfway through 2018, the city had already handed out 786 permits with a total value of $704 million – putting it on track to hit $1.4 billion in by year’s end.
“Looking at the figures, it looks like we are heading for another record year,” said Coun. Pietro Calendino at Monday’s council meeting. “So that’s good news and it outdoes, by far, the Kinder Morgan project.”
Much of the construction is concentrated in the city’s four town centres – Brentwood, Lougheed, Edmonds and Metrotown.
The Metrotown Downtown Plan, adopted by council in 2016, calls for mass densification in the area surrounding the Metropolis at Metrotown mall. Council has since given the greenlight for many developers to bulldoze lowrise rental apartment buildings to make room for highrise condo towers in the area.
The strategy has drawn harsh criticism from citizens and advocacy groups, who say Mayor Derek Corrigan and city council is allowing for the displacement of some of Burnaby’s most vulnerable low-income residents.
Burnaby saw a net loss of 712 rental units between 2010 and 2017, while much of Metro Vancouver saw increases, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The towers erected to replace those rentals are providing much-needed new homes, according to Corrigan.
He said the new construction is needed to keep pace with Burnaby’s obligation to welcome new residents under Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy 2011 agreement between the region’s municipalities.
The plan anticipates an annual population growth of 25,000 to 30,000.
“So as much as we make, people are coming in at an even more rapid rate and if we don’t house them in places like Burnaby, it means they’re moving out to the valley and occupying probably agricultural land in the future,” Corrigan said.
“So it’s a tough set of compromises to accommodate all those people coming here – but we invited the world and they’re coming.”