UVic students evicted due to Saanich bylaw want it changed

UVic students evicted due to Saanich bylaw want it changed

WATCH: In the thick of our current housing crisis, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for students to find places to live. Several University of Victoria students are now joining the search for a new space after they were evicted for breaking a Saanich bylaw. Luisa Alvarez reports.

Emma Edmonds and her six other roommates are trying to enjoy the time they have left living together. Since September, the seven UVic students have lived in a spacious Saanich house.

“We have seven bedrooms, five bathrooms so three of us don’t even share a bathroom. We have two kitchens, two laundry rooms, two huge living rooms. We have tons of space,” said Edmonds.

They love living there and there is clearly enough space for all of them to live comfortably but that doesn’t matter.

According to a Saanich bylaw, the total number of “persons unrelated by blood or marriage” in a dwelling “including boarders can’t exceed four.”

Edmonds says they weren’t aware of the bylaw but after an unexpected visit from a Saanich bylaw enforcement officer in December, they found out the hard way.

“It was pretty much like you need to move out by January 31st of 2019, which was shocking for us,” said Edmonds.

It’s a bylaw Saanich councillor Zac de Vries doesn’t agree with.

“This bylaw, although it applies to all residents, what we are seeing is it’s really impacting students and its affecting students,” said de Vries.

There are more than 21,000 students at the University of Victoria and only 3,000 beds on residence, which means the rest of them need find off-campus housing.

Some students who are local can live at home but for the ones that aren’t, they’re left with few options in a rental market as tight and unaffordable as this one.

“It forces students to live illegally in large groups constantly at risk of eviction,” said Edmonds.

It’s too late for the seven students and three have already come to terms with having to move. But by speaking out, Edmonds wants their story to force the conversation about a bylaw she is calling outdated.

“There is a systematic issue that is in place here in the middle of a housing crisis that allows landlords to take advantage of students in this way and that’s what needs to change,” she said.

Edmonds spoke out during an open forum with Saanich mayor and council Monday and while she was told that wasn’t the time or the place to talk about bylaws, she did get the dialogue started.

“This has really jump-started the conversation and moved it up the priority level of council,” said de Vries.

De Vries says he has already begun preliminary conversations with other council members to look into amending the bylaw but he warns council will be considering all perspectives before any changes are made.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!