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Tri-Cities MP voices concern for 'unacceptable' Coquitlam rent prices

Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo believes more federal action is needed to make rents affordable for struggling residents.
Port Moody—Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo is concerned for local residents struggling to keep their homes after a recent report showed Coquitlam had one of the highest rents in Canada.

A recent national report suggests that Coquitlam has some of the most expensive rent prices among mid-sized cities in Canada.

Numbers showed an average April price of $2,788 per month for condos and apartments — one of the biggest increases yearly and monthly among B.C. communities.

Port Moody—Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo said the data from and Urbanation, published by the Tri-City News on Wednesday (May 17), are disappointing and "unacceptable" for local residents.

She said this is especially challenging for those struggling to keep their home.

"Seniors, single mothers and people with disabilities are being evicted, as their long-time rental homes are replaced with luxury condos," Zarrillo said in a statement.

Zarrillo brought her concerns into the House of Commons on Thursday (May 18), calling on the federal government to consider a plan of action in making rent more affordable across the country.

Federal housing minister Ahmed Hussein said rent control is under provincial jurisdiction first, but the Canadian government "has played a role" in mitigating the situation.

"That is why we introduced the Canada Housing Benefit, that is why we've partnered with political parties on this side of the house to make sure that we top up the Canada housing benefit, which is going to every vulnerable renter across Canada that needs it," Hussein said in response to Zarrillo's question.

"It's a cost-shared program and we're proud of that right now."

The Canada Housing Benefit deadline was March 31.

According to the federal government's website, qualifying renters who applied for the tax-free one-time payment of up to $500 are set to receive funding from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

But Zarrillo believes much more needs to be done for when $500 isn't enough.

"I met a single mom whose rent jumped up 50 per cent, just so she could stay in her community after being displaced by a for-profit developer," she said.

Zarrillo explained the concerns were brought to her attention from several residents claimed to have received eviction notices.

"What the Liberals are doing now is not working. They must act to keep rents affordable. Otherwise, families won’t have a place to live."

Coquitlam's average April rent ($2,788) was second among medium-sized B.C. cities behind Burnaby ($2,894) and third in all of Canada. said it also recorded a year-over-year uptick of 24.4 per cent — the highest annual increase in the province and sixth in the nation.

The agency said Canadians are paying roughly $340 more per month in comparison to April 2021, when rental prices reached a pandemic low of around $1,662 a month.

"Canadians have become accustomed to increasing rents after the [COVID-19] pandemic," Matt Danison, CEO of Network, said in a news release.

"Record immigration with most newcomers renting, high interest rates keeping first-time home buyers on the sidelines, and inflation are all drivers of rising rents, increasing demand and low vacancy rates."

Coquitlam's yearly spike was well above the national average of 9.6 per cent, with a median of just over $2,000 a month, as well as the monthly average of 20 per cent.

In B.C., residents paid the lowest average rent increase in April at 5.6 per cent for condo rentals and apartments, but still maintained the highest average rent at $2,468. 

Vancouver still boasts the most expensive rents in the country for one-bedroom ($2,787) and two-bedroom suites ($3,741).