Burnaby’s “thicket of towers” not making a dint in the cost of housing — that takes senior govt. action

Marine Gateway - transit-oriented density in Vancouver

Marine Gateway – transit-oriented density in Vancouver at Cambie and Marine Dr.

Today’s odd comparison in the Vancouver Sun between the rate of tower construction in Burnaby and Vancouver — Burnaby is building many more towers than Vancouver — misses one clear conclusion: a big supply of new condos will not, by itself, reduce the cost of housing.

That takes intervention by the provincial and federal governments, which Ottawa has announced today may happen through a renewed National Housing Strategy.

The original Colliers’ analysis that formed the basis for the Sun story made all the obvious points about why construction is so strong in Burnaby: cheaper land, currently underutilized, close to transit, consistent with the densification plans of the Regional Growth Strategy.

Vancouver has few such sites, but is densifying them steadily, as next week’s opening of Marine Gateway, the first of a series of developments at Cambie and Marine, will make clear.

But if massive expansion of the condo stock was enough to reduce prices, you’d think Burnaby would be awash in available units. Not so: last year, one tower sold out the day after it was approved at rezoning.

An as for the claim that Vancouverites are particularly “anti-tower” I can offer this finding from a recent Real Estate Foundation poll: only 13 percent of British Columbians say they favour high density development. That includes Burnaby, where most high rise development is not impacting single-family neighbourhoods.