WATCH: A group of Esquimalt residents were out protesting a growing lack of affordable housing in their area. They say rampant renovictions let landlords double rent, putting vulnerable people put out on the streets. Kori Sidaway reports.
New applications for rezoning parts of Esquimalt to pave way for new condominiums and apartment buildings have some residents more than worried.
“It’s as though they’re blasting us out of here, and the middle class can just move in,” said resident Karen Shirley.
These Esquimalt residents say they knew change was coming when realtors and developers were going door to door trying to buy up properties and rezoning application signs went up.
But they never expected the full scope of change.
“We’re not talking about a block or two, the entire neighbourhood has been targeted for purchasing and for redevelopment and as we speak a lot of people are being evicted,” said Esquimalt local Alexander Boxer.
The group says on the west side of Esquimalt near the military base, renovictions are rampant. Melissa Alan lives there and just days ago she was given four months notice until she’s evicted for renovations.
Living on disability, she says she won’t be able to afford the post-renoviction increase in rent.
“Being on disability $1185 is your max income, and rentals here are above $900,” said Alan
“So you make a choice: do you want to eat, or do you want a roof over your head?”
The group is calling on the municipality of Esquimalt for new bylaws that protect the township’s most vulnerable.
“All new construction for rental units, a certain portion of them should be for low income,” said Boxer.
A retired nurse and Canadian Navy veteran who served in the cold war in the 1980’s, Boxer is also on disability. The apartment he’s called home for the past 30 years is about to change hands, and he’s planning for the worst.
“Public housing and shelters are maxed out, there’s no support agencies out there, and I have no family. I’m going to be one of the people who’s going to be reduced to having to look for a tent city to live in,” said Boxer.
The group’s petition for more affordable housing currently has over 400 signatures from locals, but the group is hoping for more before they meet with Esquimalt council on August 20.