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City one step closer to providing new space for Burnaby Neighbourhood House

The non-profit sought help from the city to find a new, more affordable space for their North Burnaby location last November

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley brought a motion to council’s Planning and Development Committee meeting on Feb. 14 to formally direct staff to look into options for a new space for the North Burnaby Neighbourhood House. On Nov. 8, 2023, CEO of Burnaby Neighbourhood House (BNH), Antonia Beck, and board chair Ted Wiens presented the non-profit’s need for a new space, requesting help from the city in finding one at below-market rates and large enough to accommodate the food hub’s growing needs while allowing for other programming.  

“I brought this forward because the North Neighbourhood House really needs help. It’s at the hands right now of a private landlord that can change the rents to exorbitant amounts at any time. The premises aren’t really suited to what we’re seeing, what the needs of that community are,” Hurley said, “This is just a start to have a look to see if there’s a development partner that may be interested. We all know that the need is out there, and we all know that the Neighbourhood House does wonderful work in our community.” 

On Feb. 7, the Beacon spoke with Beck, who said, “We need to get out of this space; the landlord raised the rent by 40%, so we’ve signed a short-term lease, so by next December, we need to find another place, along Hastings. We really need to be in this neighbourhood, where there’s a lot of people that need us and come to this food hub.” 

Food hampers at Burnaby Neighbourhood House, North Burnaby. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

During the Feb. 14 meeting, Coun. Alison Gu requested an amendment to the motion. “I really support the intention of the motion. I’m a little worried about the language used because of the timelines that BNH is under,” Gu said. “They just signed on for a two-year lease where their lease went up by 40%. They were paying over $7,000 a month at their last lease. I imagine that means they’re paying around $10,000 a month for a space that’s inadequate. I worry about the timelines of development.” 

Gu’s amendment added that city staff will explore alternative locations until the city can find a permanent, long-term solution. Gu gave the example of underutilized current city facilities as a temporary solution. 

Coun. Joe Keithley supported the motion, saying, “They do great work in our community, so whatever we can do to help them out.”

BNH food hub provides food assistance through weekly food hampers for Burnaby families. Currently, BNH serves more than 7,000 Burnaby residents, including families and seniors, providing 140,000 meals every month. 

In the past year, BNH has seen more residents accessing their food hubs as many struggle with inflation, rising rents, and living costs. The motion will appear at the next council meeting on Feb. 26, during which council will provide direction to staff. 

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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