Sale of Burnaby co-op threatens seniors with higher market rentals
Low-income seniors living in a co-op in two highrises in Burnaby face a precarious future as early as November because the union owning the property reportedly wants to sell it for more than $100 million.
Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C ., said residents of the 244 units at 115 Place Housing Co-operative could see their rents increase between 40 and 100 per cent once new owners take over Nov. 1. The co-op now charges $771 a month for a 475 square foot studio and $1,227 for a 826 sq. ft two-bedroom apartment.
The pension plan of Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers has decided to sell its property after 41 years. The co-op’s lease with Local 115 expires at the end of October.
Armstrong said what’s happening with 115 Place is a perfect example of housing becoming financialized and turned into a commodity rather than being treated as a home where people live.
The cooperative housing federation advocates on behalf of 115 Place and most of the 269 housing co-ops in B.C.
Duncan Beaton lives in a two-bedroom unit in 115 Place with his girlfriend. He described the co-op as a vital, dynamic place with an active social committee. He said most of the residents are in their mid-to-late 50s and older. The oldest is 102.
“This is like an urban village,” he said. “It’s a community — it’s tightly knit. They take care of each other because they’re getting old.”
He said the degree to which residents are feeling devastated and fearful “is not to be understated.”
“I’m not kidding about people not surviving a move.”
Beaton, 73, said he expects to be gone once rents increase. He thinks he’ll head east to Maple East or Pitt Meadows to be closer to his children.