Burnaby’s new mayor is set to strike a new housing task force charged with finding answers to the city’s housing woes.
Today (December 10), Mike Hurley’s proposal to create the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing will come before council.
The former firefighter, who was sworn into office Nov. 5, put housing at the centre of his election campaign. He promised to create a housing task force, saying he is not an expert on the subject but is keen to listen to those who are.
“As a rapidly growing city, the majority of our citizens continue to face significant housing affordability issues that challenge the achievement of our shared goals – economic, social and environmental sustainability,” Hurley wrote in a report outlining his plan for the new committee.
If councillors agree to create the task force, it will meet for the first time on Wednesday, Jan. 9 and every other Wednesday after that for six months.
Task force members will have three months to produce an interim report “identifying short-term actions and long-term objectives towards housing affordability” and six months for a final report “outlining (the) current state, future state, challenges, solutions and recommended implementation of timelines.”
“In consideration of the immediate and urgent need to address matters related to affordable housing, the convening of a select committee of council is being advanced as a priority initiative,” Hurley wrote.
The mayor wants three council members on the task force – himself, Coun. Sav Dhaliwal and Coun. Pietro Calendino – as well as representatives from housing advocacy groups, co-op housing organizations, the Burnaby Teachers Association, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the development industry.
The task force’s purpose will be “to provide recommendations to Burnaby City Council on innovative policies, directions and specific initiatives, to increase the supply, diversity and affordability of housing in Burnaby.”
Hurley’s plan for the task force includes five guiding principles:
- Ensure Burnaby provides opportunities for persons across all income levels, ages and abilities to live and work in our city.
- Recognize the importance of maintaining a diverse community and create a space where all are welcome.
- Ensure that families of all sizes and types and needs have a place in Burnaby.
- Ensure that new housing will strengthen neighbourhoods, bring people together and build an even more sustainable community.
- Work collaboratively with all levels of government, business and the community to achieve positive results.
The plan also sets out seven functions for the task force:
- Examine the conditions that exist in Burnaby to create new affordable housing and protect existing affordable rental stock.
- Look for opportunities to reduce the cost and timelines for smart, responsible development with the goal of saving people money and streamlining city processes.
- Work towards achieving the right mix of housing to support each stage of family life for Burnaby’s residents.
- Support new and innovative housing forms, and create new policies and programs to benefit housing affordability.
- Identify opportunities to work with senior levels of government and leverage available funding programs.
- Identify municipal, provincial and federal regulatory barriers to housing affordability.
- Facilitate broad consultation with the public, stakeholders and industry – seeking input on challenges and solutions.
- Hurley recently told the NOW the task force will also have sub-committees reporting to it on specific housing issues.
Hurley recently told the NOW the task force will also have sub-committees reporting to it on specific housing issues.