‘Dream rather than a nightmare:’ Saanich tent city campers move into new home


WATCH: Two couples who met at Saanich’s Regina Park tent city moved into a new rental home thanks to Pacifica Housing. April Lawrence reports.

Four formerly homeless campers celebrated as they received the keys to their new three-bedroom rental house on Thursday.

“Now that it’s a dream rather than a nightmare I’m hoping I don’t wake up,” said Blair Este.

Este and his girlfriend Lynne Hibak moved into the tent city in Saanich’s Regina Park in May. They had been in shelters for the year after being renovicted from their apartment.

“It’s hard being homeless because you don’t know where you’re going to go next,” said Hibak in July.

The pair formed a community at the camp that included married couple Don and Dee Dee Patenaude.

When Regina Park was shut down the four stuck together moving from place to place with Namegans Nation including two weeks at Goldstream campground.

Now the desperation of those months has been replaced by hope and laughter.

Pacifica Housing found a three-bedroom rental home in Saanich for the two couples through its Streets to Homes program.

“We find folks who need housing, we match them with subsidies, we try to find a good fit for those folks and this is an example of a good fit,” said Pacifica Housing Outreach Manager Chris Forester.

After months spent sleeping in tents, they’re taking delight in even the smallest things.

“A bathtub, a nice hot shower, working, flushing toilet,” said Patenaude.

While they do have some furniture in storage, Pacifica will help the couples outfit their home with the rest.

With the safety and security of a roof over their heads they’re looking forward to things like gardening and getting to know their neighbours.

“We are loving, caring people, please come and meet us,” said Hibak.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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