Saanich Municipal Hall (Black Press Media file photo)

Students, advocates plan rally during Saanich’s unrelated occupancy bylaw hearing

Hearing takes place on June 20 via conference call

Students from the University of Victoria, Camosun College and tenant advocates will rally Saturday during the public hearing for Saanich’s unrelated occupancy bylaw.

Currently, the number of unrelated residents allowed to share a home in Saanich is limited to four. Some say the bylaw is unfair while others worry about problems that could be created for neighbours if more unrelated individuals are permitted to reside in a single home.

Saanich council has proposed an amendment to the zoning bylaw to increase the number of unrelated people who can share a home from four to six. Residents and community members will be able to have their say on the zoning amendment at the Saturday hearing which will take place via conference call at 10 a.m. Participation is expected to be high as unrelated occupancy is an “item that has considerable community interest,” according to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes.

The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) says the current bylaw limits the supply of affordable housing and exacerbates the local housing crisis. Students who cannot afford to rent legally feel forced to live above occupancy limits which leaves them without tenant protections and puts them at risk of abuse, predatory landlords and living in unsafe or illegal spaces, the Society says.

READ ALSO: Saanich sets new date for public hearing on unrelated occupancy bylaw

“You can’t leave an unsafe home if you can’t find another one,” says UVSS director of campaigns and community relations Emily Lowan. “Although this is just the first step, the proposed amendment improves both housing availability and affordability in Saanich and will help make Saanich a safer place for its residents.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted community members, particularly those who are low-income and marginalized according to UVSS. Those same individuals are “disproportionately” affected by unaffordable and inaccessible housing, UVSS says.

“It typically costs over $1,500 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Saanich, if you can even find one. That’s simply out of reach for the majority of single people in this municipality,” says Ethan Dennett a steering committee member of the Victoria Tenant Action Group.

He says students and other renters pay as much as half of their incomes for rent and even sleep in cars and on couches while going to school in some cases. Dennett says municipalities should be working to lessen the housing crisis.

READ ALSO: Restrictions on unrelated occupants dominates Saanich council meeting

Anyone wishing to speak at the public hearing is asked to register by e-mail at council@saanich.ca or by phone at 250-475-5501 before noon on June 19. Residents must indicate which meeting they wish to speak at and the topic they’ll address.

Instructions for participation will be sent to the registered participants by e-mail and speakers are asked to tune in to the live stream at saanich.ca for information about when to call in.

Written comments can be submitted by e-mail, mail or in the drop box outside municipal hall until noon the day before the hearing. All correspondence will be part of the public record.

“This bylaw is not about parking, it is not about noise disturbances and it’s not about unsightly premises,” says Emma Edmonds, a UVic student who was evicted in 2019 due to the Saanich bylaw.

She says the “unnecessary” bylaw impacts students and low-income renters and that the “criminalization” of roommates should be stopped.

“All residents in Saanich deserve to feel safe and secure in their homes.”

With files from Devon Bidal

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

affordable housingDistrict of Saanichrental marketUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

VicPD to reopen front counter services on Monday

No masks provided, but encouraged to be worn

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read