Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Residents of the 244 units could see their rents rise between 40 and 100 percent when new owners take over Nov. 1, warns CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC

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Low-income seniors living in a co-op in two high-rise buildings in Burnaby are facing an uncertain future as early as November because the union that owns the property reportedly wants to sell it for more than $ 100 million.

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Thom Armstrong, executive director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC, said residents in the 244 units at 115 Place Housing Co-operative could see their rents rise between 40 and 100 percent when new owners take over Nov. 1. up now charges $ 771 a month for a 475-square-foot studio and $ 1,227 for an 826-square-foot two-bedroom apartment.

The pension plan for Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers has decided to sell its property after 41 years. The co-operative lease with Local 115 expires at the end of October.

Armstrong said what happens to 115 Place is a perfect example of housing being funded and becoming a commodity rather than being treated as a home where people live.

“The compulsion to seek the highest and best return on an investment is fine if it is a copper mine,” he said. “If it’s people’s home, you’ll end up with a result that looks like this.”

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The Cooperative Housing Association speaks on behalf of 115 Place and most of the 269 housing cooperatives in BC

Duncan Beaton lives in a two-bedroom apartment on 115 Place with his girlfriend. He described the co-op as an important, dynamic place with an active social committee. He said most residents are in their mid to late 50s and older. The oldest is 102.

“This is like a city within a city,” he said. “It’s a community – it’s tight. They take care of each other because they are getting old. ”

He said the extent to which residents feel devastated and scared “should not be underestimated.”

“I’m not kidding that people do not survive a move.”

Beacon, 73, said he expects to be away when rents rise. He thinks he’s heading east to Maple East or Pitt Meadows to be closer to his kids.

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“These are people who have worked to live on lower paid jobs without many benefits all their lives,” he said. “They felt safe here – and now they do not feel safe.”

Armstrong said the two towers at 9380 and 9390 Cardston Pl. is on the market with Colliers as a private listing. This means that the listing agency only caters to buyers who are likely to have the money to buy the towers. Getting information about the offer requires signing a secrecy form, he said.

Based on what he said was incomplete information on failed talks between the province and the union’s pension plan on the sale of the property, the union’s pension plan leads to “well north of $ 100 million” for the two towers.

“They want millions and millions of dollars more than the estimated value,” Armstrong said.

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Asked to want more than $ 100 million for the two towers, Local 115 said in an email statement that the pension plan has not set a purchase price for the property, as “potential buyers come up with offers based on what they think. the property is worth it. ”

“The pension plan has placed restrictions in the purchase agreement that will limit the impact on existing residents, including protection against eviction and renovation,” Claudia Ferris, spokeswoman for pension plans, said in the statement.

Ferris said the pension scheme “has exhausted every conceivable opportunity to enter into a fair and equitable sale agreement” with BC Housing for several years.

“We really have no choice but to take these properties to market,” she said.

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A spokesman for David Eby, public prosecutor and housing minister, said in an email statement that BC Housing “made an appropriate offer to buy the site based on an independent property assessment. Unfortunately, the landowner decided to list the property privately. market. “

“The assessment and the exact details of potential purchase negotiations are both confidential, therefore we cannot share them,” the statement said.

The ministry said in a statement that it was open to further talks on buying the property “so residents are not forced to leave their homes.”

“But we are also obligated to be tax liable with public dollars and only make purchases when they are priced in accordance with third party values.”

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Armstrong said the pension plan’s promise to protect people living at 115 Place is “just so much empty hot air.”

“You can’t bind a buyer to treat existing residents in a certain way once the sale is closed,” he said.

Armstrong said that when the lease expires at the end of this month, residents will be without protection under the Co-op or Residential Lease Act.

“It’s just a terrible situation to consider,” he said.

Local 115 owns the land leased by another Burnaby cooperative called Post 83. Armstrong said that while Local 115 has not specified what will happen when Post 83’s lease expires in late October 2022, everyone expects that the 181 members living there face the same fate as 115 Place.

Room 115 represents 12,000 workers in BC, such as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, operations engineers and aerial firefighters. Projects built by the members include the Golden Ears Bridge and the BC Place Stadium roof.

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

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