Letter: Do renters matter in Coquitlam?

The Editor, Re. “We have affordable housing” (Letters, The Tri-City News, Feb. 14).

The Editor,

Re. “We have affordable housing” (Letters, The Tri-City News, Feb. 14).

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Jane Shoemaker’s letter pleading with Coquitlam council not to allow up-zoning of older affordable rental apartment buildings in Austin Heights brings to mind the situation in Burquitlam, where I have made my home in just such a building for more than 20 years.

Here and in west Coquitlam, it is open season on such buildings if located near Evergreen Extension stations. To date, hundreds of affordable apartments — soon over a thousand — have been, are being or will be demolished for highrises, containing mostly expensive new condos; or if some units are to be rentals, the rent would rarely be affordable anymore.

Tenants are moved out during the most severe affordable housing shortage in living memory.

Numbers of homeless people keep growing.

Developers, not neutral agents, are charged with relocation programs with little accountability for what happens to these tenants.

Council cannot say whether all have been suitably relocated but even if some are, are the sacrifice of their affordable homes and the severe disruption of their lives excusable — all for the sake of shiny new city centres around transit hubs and a generous influx of new, better-heeled residents?

Lower-income citizens are the victims here, and for a dubious cause.

The haste and methods to reach the city’s goals smack loudly of developer greed and replenishing city coffers, all at these less affluent tenants’ expense. It’s like the demoviction and gentrification we have already seen around Metrotown in Burnaby.

My building, like so many others, has been pre-designated by the city as suitable for highrise redevelopment, thus hanging out the welcome mat for developer offers that can’t be refused.

I have felt under threat of unjustifiable home displacement for years.

This mayor and council need to be held to account for what they have done to hundreds of people like me, and for not knowing where they have wound up.

So I would like to ask this council: Why are you destroying affordable housing in the midst of a crisis? Where specifically are the former tenants now? Is this really the only way to develop Burquitlam? Does no one on council care about this or is it that lower-income people just don’t matter?

Felix Thijssen, Coquitlam

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