Stories of rental hardship such as the Westwoods stand out, but the reality is there are more.
In the booming Greater Victoria housing market, especially in the highly desired areas of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay, the real estate story is overshadowing the difficult rental market. Affordable housing is on its way for some – and the province, CRD and local municipalities should be commended for their efforts so far – but for families like the Westwoods, we might be responsible for another option, such as finding them a permanent, stable place to live.
It’s hard to think a typical three-unit family such as the Westwoods, of the Mount View-Colquitz neighbourhood, could fall into such a conundrum as they have. Luckily, they’ve found temporary housing in James Bay through a friend. When Jim Westwood left for work on Monday morning, he thought he was coming home to move his family into a motel unit.
Westwood paid $1,750 per month in rent with his wife Roberta and three-year-old son Jackson, but the three-bedroom home on the Saanich side of Admirals Road is coming down for the new McKenzie Interchange. The problem is, a family with a toddler and two dogs is limited to an even smaller section of Greater Victoria’s supremely limited rental market.
As a society, we seek to help those in need, but just because the Westwoods were in a good place when the interchange was announced doesn’t mean they are able to find the next place. Bumping them out and threatening to strip their compensation because they can’t find a new place in Greater Victoria’s ludicrous rental market is looking remarkably ironic. Westwood’s a hard worker who always lands on his feet, and he did not enjoy living in a house past the eviction notice.
Furthermore, the Westwoods’ true dream of being homeowners is no longer front of mind. When you’re from Saanich (or Victoria), you don’t want to leave, but Westwood can see the writing on the wall. After a lifetime working and living here, he’s hoping he can keep at least one of the two.