A People's Plan for METROTOWN
 

Following the main planning principle of "development without displacement," the People's Plan for Metrotown charts a future without demovictions and predatory investors for the current renters in Metrotown. Unlike city development plans that are written by planners and limited by the political and economic perspectives of governments and development corporations, the People's Plan started with what residents of Metrotown themselves said they need, and looked for and found the planning and development tools to realize those needs.

The People's Plan is a radical re-envisioning of what a community plan truly needs to be. The People's Plan is much more than a plan for city zoning laws; it also outlines what a community must do to protect vulnerable community members and actively fight for a world without the harsh profit-driven policies and governance that leave low-income people in constant housing insecurity.

The People's Plan for Metrotown is made up of two parts. First, it unpacks three planning principles for development that will increase density without displacing the existing residents. Second, it puts forward a call to action to the community with strategies for collective organizing and resistance to displacement.

PRINCIPLES

Corrigan’s Metrotown Plan will increase density in the Metrotown area by rezoning and demolishing the 3-storey walk-up apartment buildings and displacing thousands of current residents. The People’s Plan calls for a 3-step rezoning policy for placement before displacement.

Step 1:
Increase density by rezoning and demolishing single family homes along the main transportation corridors in the southern part of Metrotown area. The land under these houses is overvalued and awaiting redevelopment, but Burnaby’s zoning laws limit the possible redevelopments to new single family homes. This is a wasted opportunity. The families in these houses will either be bought out by private developers, who will build mansions for the rich, or they can be bought out by the City of Burnaby, which can build non-market housing for existing Metrotown renters. Building townhouses and towers in place of single family homes is a much greater density gain for the City than replacing apartment buildings with condos towers.

Step 2:
Organize the placement of Metrotown renters from the older 3- storey walkup apartments into these new non-market townhouses and apartment buildings.

Step 3:
Spot rezone the emptied apartments in Metrotown and rebuild them one-by-one, placing tenants from neighbouring buildings in the new buildings and then rezoning and redeveloping the ones they leave.

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Rezonings are not enough to stop displacement. New market housing is just too expensive for most residents of the 3-storey apartments in Metrotown. The People's Plan for Metrotown calls for a range of non-market housing, which we're calling Universal Housing, to replace the low-end of market rentals in Metrotown. Burnaby could implement a universal housing program, in partnership with other levels of government, by buying land, designating it for social housing and collaborating with the Province and the Feds for construction and operating costs. Or it could use its massive budgetary surplus of more than a billion dollars to invest directly in the construction of non-market housing as a form of redistribution of real estate wealth back to the communities harmed by the accumulation of that wealth.

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The rich ethnic, national, language, age, and income diversity in Metrotown can be protected from market forces of displacement by government policy. The People's Plan calls for protections for current residents in the form of anti-eviction and maintenance legislation at Municipal and Provincial levels, and for supports of community resistance and self-defence with funding and resource support for community groups. We also call for the community resources and services we need in order to be healthy and secure in our neighbourhood and homes.

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ACTION

The We Won’t Go call to action represents a turn in our organizing and protest efforts from the last two years because the passage of Corrigan's "Downtown" Metrotown Plan means that appealing to the City to stop demovictions has turned from being frustrating to being dangerously naive. The time for petitions and appeals to reason has passed—the call to action that closes this report is a call to respond to mass evictions and displacement with mass civil disobedience.

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