The City of New Westminster will be taking on tenant evictions through renovations and emergency preparedness at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.
New Westminster will be putting forward two resolutions for consideration at the convention, which takes place Sept. 26 to 30 in Victoria. Mayor Jonathan Cote and councillors Patrick Johnstone, Bill Harper, Jaimie McEvoy, Chuck Puchmayr and Lorrie Williams are scheduled to attend.
The tenant evictions through renovations resolution takes aim at landlords who evict tenants “under the guise of performing major renovations and then significantly increase the rent of those units.” The city is seeking support from the UBCM to urge the provincial government to amend the Residential Tenancy Act to allow renters the right of first refusal to return to their units at a rent that’s no more than what the landlord could lawfully have charged, including allowable annual increases, if there had been no interruption in the tenancy.
“With what’s been going on with the escalating price of real estate, which triggers an escalating price in rents, a lot of landlords are trying to circumvent the Tenancy Act by evicting their tenants, doing in some cases very minor renovations and then relisting their places at considerably higher than market value just for profit,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “We are wanting to have stronger rules in place other than what already exists, which in my opinion favours the landlord and doesn’t have enough protection for the tenants that are being evicted due to renovations.”
A second resolution from New Westminster relates to tax exemption for emergency preparedness kits. The city wants the UBCM and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ask senior levels of government to eliminate all provincial and federal taxes for the purchase of emergency preparedness kits.
“Certain things are already exempt,” said Puchmayr, who chairs the city’s emergency advisory committee. “Anything we can do to encourage more people to talk about and to understand the need to have emergency preparedness supplies at their disposal is a positive thing, it was felt at the committee level.”
Puchmayr, past president of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, said both resolutions passed at the LMLGA and will now go to the UBCM for consideration by delegates at the convention.