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New rental units are smaller than three parking stalls

Concord high-rise project in Burnaby’s Metrotown will include 58 non-market studio suites from 323 square feet

Burnaby developers are set to build more apartments with unit sizes local politicians have called “ridiculous” and “not livable.”

The Concord Metrotown development at 4750 Kingsway will bring 188 non-market rental units onto the market – and 58 of its non-market studio units will be between 323 and 346 square feet.

That’s just a bit smaller than three standard-sized parking stalls.

It’s also more than 75 square feet smaller than the development’s market strata studios, which range from 399 to 528 square feet, and 182 square feet smaller than the market rental studios which start at 505 square feet.

The development’s eight non-market adaptable studio units are set at 385 square feet.

(Non-market refers to units rented at below the local market value, usually through a government subsidy, in this case 20 per cent below the market. The current market rent for a studio unit in Metrotown is $996, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.  Adaptable usually refers to sliding wall partitions in a studio to separate a sleeping space.)

Studio units in strata condominiums have a minimum size of 398.28 square feet and the minimum size for rental units is 322.93 square feet (30 square metres.)

Coun. Pietro Calendino asked for staff to report on minimum unit sizes for both strata and rentals earlier this year at a planning and development committee on June 1.

“A 330 [square] foot bachelor unit is not a livable place. A 450 [sq. ft.] one-bedroom is a very tiny space,” he said at the June 1 meeting.

“Obviously, we are concerned with affordability, but affordability should come with a degree of livability as well.”

The committee was responding to comments made at a regular council meeting on May 30, regarding a Grosvenor Brentwood development, which includes 36 non-market rental studio units at 328 square feet, nine non-market rental units at 365 square feet and 97 market rental studios between 381 and 394 square feet, with strata studios between 443 and 445 square feet.

Coun. Alison Gu raised the issue of small unit sizes at council.

Mayor Mike Hurley said: “That’s a ridiculous size to have to live in, in my opinion. … It’s time to revisit that and make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s tiny.”

“It’s getting ridiculous that you could expect someone to live in 350 or less square feet, so we really have to look at that,” he said.

The director of planning told council that by the time developments are ready for public hearing, “the floor plans are pretty much set.”