George Derby society proposes new seniors rental project

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
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The society operating the George Derby Centre care facility wants to build a seniors market rental housing complex next door.

But some Burnaby council members want to see subsidized housing instead.

According to a city staff report, the 220-acre site was acquired in 1945 by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs for the former George Derby Veterans Hospital, which was demolished in 1988. The current care centre was built around the same time.

In 1981, Burnaby council approved a land use plan for the property that identified the rest of the land for park and conservation area, low-density, multiple-family development and road right-of-way purposes.

The property is now owned by the province and operated by the non-profit George Derby Long Term Care Society under lease.

Etherstane Developments Ltd. has applied for a rezoning for the property at 7550 Cumberland St. to allow it to build a five-storey building with surface parking.

The proposed facility would be operated by the society without public funding or subsidy on a non-profit basis. It would provide market rental housing for seniors who are able to live independently, with the help of supports such as dining, housekeeping and laundry services and organized social activities.

"The existing care facility, together with the proposed seniors supportive rental building, would contribute to a comprehensive seniors' residential campus that would allow seniors to age in place," the staff report said.

"In addition, through the socialization and activity programs offered, the residents will avoid the debilitating effects of loneliness and isolation which impact the health of many seniors," said Richard Peddie of Etherstane in a letter to the Burnaby planning department.

"The intent of the society is to construct an attractive, high quality market building and make it available through modest rents to a wide spectrum of the community."

Burnaby council referred the application to the city's Community Development Committee to look into whether the society will consider offering non-market rental housing.

"I don't think the irony is lost on many of us that lands that are being operated by the provincial government are being turned over to market-rental housing when there is this constant request that in fact [city hall] release land to go for non-market," said Mayor Derek Corrigan. "Well that doesn't make a lot of sense."

Calling it an "ideal place," Corrigan said, "It would seem to me this land that is already available to the provincial and federal governments should be utilized for non-market housing and there are a lot of seniors that can utilize some subsidized housing in an area like that."

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