Nearly a dozen tenants living illegally on a Metchosin property have been given a notice of eviction after a six-month-long battle with the district.
Bryce Knudston moved to Vancouver Island in 2020 and has lived in a mobile tiny home that he built with his father. He says building a tiny home was the only way he could afford to live, noting he pays between $550 and $650 a month to live on the property.
“I got stuck on this idea that you could build your own home. You don’t have to be subject to inflated prices of the market,” said Knudston.
Most of the tenants live in RVs and buses, but two live in tiny homes.
Back in January, property owner Saige Lancaster was given an initial eviction notice after a complaint was filed. She applied for three extensions to explore other options, two of which were granted, but the third was denied and a deadline to move out was given for Aug. 31.
The district cited a violation of a zoning bylaw as the reason. Lancaster’s property is zoned to allow one primary dwelling unit and one secondary dwelling unit.
“They [District of Metchosin] have been working with us in the sense of giving us more extensions, but now we’ve kind of hit that brick wall,” said Lancaster.
The property owner says that she’s considered applying to rezone her property so that her tenants could stay, but it would still require tenants to move off property temporarily. The district says its council won’t consider rezoning at this time.
“To undertake a rezoning, to change that direction is a very major step. It’s one that won’t be taken by this council. It’s an issue for the next council,” said John Ranns, Mayor of Metchosin.
A new zoning permit would also be costly due to the various codes from various agencies that would need to be followed.
“It’s not as simple as it seems, it’s not like ‘Okay, we’ll just rezone and people can stick their tiny homes up.’ They have to meet all of those codes,” said Ranns.
Lancaster has appealed for an emergency bylaw to be enacted that would prevent evictions until suitable, affordable housing is passed. A similar bylaw was passed by the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee in 2021.
Due to the housing crisis, Knudston says that tenants have been forced to move elsewhere. Some say they’re moving to another province and in one case, another country.