(City of Burnaby)

2022 municipal election: what issues do Burnaby voters care about most?

Housing, property taxes, climate change, safety, are issues that residents are paying attention to in this municipal election.

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August 30, 2022 | 5:00 am

It’s less than two months until the municipal election, and there are some hot button issues you’ll be hearing more about in the weeks to come.

Last week, we gave you a list of everyone who’s so far announced their intention to run for the mayoralty, city council, and school board, along with a little bit about them—although candidates have until tomorrow (Aug. 31) to announce their intention to run for office.

But if you’re wondering what kind of issues will be coming up in the run-up to the election on Oct. 15, read on.

Running for mayor, council, or the school board in the upcoming election? Let us know at tips@burnabybeacon.com.

Housing

A recent survey of voters in Metro Vancouver carried out by polling company Research Co. found that, to no surprise, housing is the biggest issue on the docket. 55% of voters in Burnaby, New West, and Richmond said it was the most important issue facing their cities.

Compare that to other municipalities like the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, where 38% and 36% of respondents, respectively, said housing was the most important issue.

Burnaby was the sixth most expensive city in Canada for renters in July, according to a national report from Rentals.ca. The average price for a one-bedroom apartment was $2,010 and two-bedrooms rented for an average $2,744.

“[In] Burnaby, average rents for all property types rose 24 per cent year over year in July to $2,680, while in July 2021 average rents for all property types increased 3 per cent [since 2020] to $2,154,” read a release from Rentals.ca.

The value of a single-family home in Burnaby went up an average of 19% last year, while strata home values increased by about 10%.

Meanwhile, the RE/MAX Canada 2022 Hot Pocket Communities Report released last week shows that the median price of a detached home in Burnaby dipped very slightly between the first and second quarter of this year.

Is it entirely a supply issue driving prices up in the city? Current Mayor Mike Hurley is skeptical.

“I’m not too sure that supply is part of the answer, because if it was, apartments in Metrotown would have been a lot more reasonable than they are now. There’s been a lot of supply in Metrotown, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference,” he told the Beacon earlier this year.

Highrises of Metrotown. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)
Highrises of Metrotown. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

Instead, he pointed to the city’s efforts to lightly increase density, as well as the types of housing available, in a larger selection of neighbourhoods—although he said he’s opposed to a wholesale move to end single-family zoning altogether like some cities have done.

A vast majority of election candidates have already pointed to improving access to affordable housing as a priority if they are voted in.

Property taxes

The second-most important issue, according to 12% of Burnaby/Richmond/New Westminster residents polled by Research Co., is property taxes.

The amount an owner pays in property taxes is based on the value of your property as determined by the BC Assessment (although increases in your assessed value don’t necessarily mean a huge jump on your property taxes from year to year). In 2021, Burnaby residents paid about 0.32% of their assessed value in property taxes—although the 2022 rate has gone up by 2.95% and is expected to rise by another 4% per year between 2023-2026.

Part of the reason for that is that the first-ever collective agreement between the RCMP and the federal government has come into effect—with “serious impact on the taxpayer”, according to a report to city council from late 2021.

Inflation has also hit the city (along with everything else) and the pandemic had a big impact on Burnaby’s finances.

“These circumstances, along with supply chain disruptions and other cost escalations will need to be managed operationally and financially in the coming years to ensure their impacts are mitigated,” read a city statement to the Burnaby Now.

Climate change

8% of respondents to the Research Co. poll in Burnaby said that climate change is high on their list of issues facing the city.

Last year, city council passed what it called a “bold climate action plan” consisting of seven initiatives referred to as Big Moves and several Quick Starts associated with those larger topics.

It’s all in an effort to meet a commitment made by council in September 2019 for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The Big Moves tackle the following factors: climate leadership, resilient neighbourhoods, healthy ecosystems, accelerated mode shift, zero-emission vehicles, ZE buildings—net zero new, and zero-emissions building retrofits.

An EV charging lot in Burnaby. City of Burnaby
An EV charging lot in Burnaby. City of Burnaby

You can find more about how the city is doing with those commitments in the 2020-2021 progress report.

What our readers said

We asked, you answered. Here’s a selection of what Burnaby Beacon readers consider important in the run-up to the election. Some submissions have been lightly edited for length or clarity.

What issues are most important to you as a voter in Burnaby’s upcoming election? Let us know by sending us an email at info@burnabybeacon.com.

“While Mike Hurley did follow through on creating a Tenant Assistance Program for people being evicted due to property development, the program is flawed. Developers have found a loophole and have decided that their best course of action is to neglect the property so there are fewer tenants to evict and accommodate when they proceed with the demolition of the old building. It’s a disgusting way to treat seniors and the low-income people who call these buildings home.” – Mark McAllister

“The cities of the Greater Vancouver Regional District must work together to resolve the homeless encampments and introduce more addiction treatment funding & options, housing, prescription opiates for those who have exhausted treatments, mental health treatment on demand. Security on the transit system needs to be beefed up as assaults continue to rise to a near daily occurrence. More support for small businesses struggling to survive under the weight of rising costs—less red tape.” – Viki Engdahl

“I understand the reasons why Burnaby would want to look the other way about illegal suites. Wouldn’t it be better to make rules and allow the city to have some controls[?] In my neighbourhood, there are at least two newer houses with three suites in the basement. They can’t possibly have appropriate fire and safety provisions (egress windows) and there is no requirement to make provision[s] for parking for their tenants. Wouldn’t a two- or three- bedroom suite provide higher quality housing units than the rooming house approach which is so tempting? I have shown my biases. I would be pleased to hear how the smaller units are preferable from another point of view.” – Susan Lehtinen

“I live in the Forest Grove Area, which has been hit hard by Translink’s bus service cutbacks over the years. … Translink’s motto seems to be the opposite of ‘If you build it, they will come’. But where the city comes in is that they could make the interminable wait for the bus less horrible if they built covered bus shelters. There are no covered bus shelters at all on Forest Grove, and we just have to stand in the rain and hope the bus is coming and wasn’t cancelled. Forest Grove Drive is also in the city’s bear area, and the bears are habituated to garbage because the city has put the responsibility for bear behaviour on residents instead of providing us with bear-proof bins. … My wishlist: To not stand in the rain, and to not bump into a bear munching on garbage in my complex.” – Heather Russell

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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