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Activists call for Burnaby to save older apartment buildings from demolition

WATCH: Activists are calling for Burnaby to implement a development moratorium to save older apartments from being bulldozed in favour of new condos. Randene Neill reports.

Single father Martin Lenin Fernandez has worked for eight years to bring his two sons to Burnaby from his native Nicaragua. They finally arrived last month and just as the family was getting settled into his one-bedroom apartment in the Metrotown area, they were evicted.

Fernandez and his kids are the latest victim of plans to replace dozens of four-storey rental apartments with large multi-storey condo towers.

“This block is an example of what is going to happen to the rest of the area of Metrotown,” activist Ivan Drury said. “Every single building on the block of Dunblane and Imperial is scheduled to be demolished.”

READ MORE: Burnaby council votes to rezone area near Metrotown to make way for condos

“Metrotown is a community under attack by its own city government.”

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Local activists are demanding the city put an immediate moratorium on the destruction of affordable rental units like the one where Fernandez was able to raise a family without help.

Fernandez said rent in one of the new buildings slated for construction would likely be more than twice as high as his current rent of $725 a month.

READ MORE: Burnaby residents protesting destruction of affordable rental housing

With a rental rate well below one per cent, there is little doubt that there is a need for more housing in Metro Vancouver.

Many believe higher density will address the housing shortage but Drury said Burnaby needs to consider a policy similar to Vancouver’s.

“The City of Vancouver has a moratorium of demolishing rentals unless they can be replaced with the equivalent number of units,” he said.

– With files from Randene Neill