Coun. Zac de Vries joined Mayor Fred Haynes in submitting a notice of motion asking Saanich staff to revise a bylaw critics say discriminates against students. (Saanich News/File)

Saanich to revisit ‘discriminatory’ occupancy bylaw

Seven students evicted this month based on the bylaw

Saanich is moving ahead with plans to amend a bylaw that led to the eviction of seven, unrelated university students.

Next month, council plans to debate a joint motion from Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Zac de Vries that would change provisions in Section 5.20 of Saanich’s zoning bylaw. It states that the number of “persons unrelated by blood or marriage” in a dwelling “including boarders, shall not exceed four.”

RELATED: Evicted UVic student questions Saanich’s housing bylaw

RELATED: Students struggling with Greater Victoria’s tight housing market

Saanich cited the section in evicting seven University of Victoria (UVic) students from a residence in the 1800 block of Teakwood Place near the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Gordon Head Road. They have until Jan. 31 to leave the house.

The public first heard of this issue when one of the students Emma Edmonds called the bylaw “discriminatory” in calling for its amendment. Edmonds, for her part, said that she was advocating for others, not for herself and her housemates.

“When students say to Saanich ‘we need affordable housing’, we are dismissed and given a reality check,” she said during an appearance before council earlier this month. Students are told to move elsewhere, while on the other hand, Saanich readily listens to non-students, who complain about students living in their neighbourhood, according to Edmonds.

This appeal found a receptive audience among members of council including Haynes and de Vries, whose notice of motion will appear on council’s desk Feb. 4.

Of the 18,000 undergraduate students that attend UVic, 78 per cent live off-campus. While some live with their parents or other family members, many are competing with other students and non-students for an increasingly shrinking supply of rental housing with several factors stacked against them.


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