Nearly 50 families and 200-plus people are being evicted from their homes in an unprecedented round of renovictions in Prince Rupert.
“We are shocked. We are still absorbing it,” Jennifer Davidson said.
Davidson, a 10-year resident of the Pine Crest Townhomes on Immanuel Ave. in the city’s east end, said the eviction notice was completely unexpected.
“We feel like we are left in the dark. We had been given no official notice that the property was sold,” she said, “This isn’t good faith. Good faith isn’t giving an eviction notice, it’s actually meeting together and communicating with each other.”
According to tenants, 39 families at Pine Crest Townhomes received eviction notices between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p. m. on Feb. 26. Many were personally served by a stranger knocking on the tenant’s door after dark.
The stated reason for the notices has become a word synonymous with B.C.
Collins dictionary describes “renoviction” as a word that originated in British Columbia coastal cities such as Vancouver and Victoria to describe the way large development companies would force tenants to vacate rental units to enable the completion of renovations or major repairs — and then re-rent the units at much higher rates.
Renovictions have now spread to Prince Rupert adding increased stress on an already tapped-out rental housing market, where, if there is any availability, the high cost of rent, limits the chances of a single person, senior citizens or even working middle class families to be able to afford, let alone find, rental housing.
Davidson said the tenants had not been informed who the new owner of the property is. The property has been managed by Randal North Real Estate Inc. for the past few years. Randal North is also listed on the eviction notices, as the new landlord’s agent, despite the property recently changing hands.
“The stress is phenomenal. With the added stress, we can’t sleep. What are we going to do? Where are we going to go? Are we going to have a home? We didn’t ask for this,” Davidson said. “We’re talking a minimum of four to five people per unit are being evicted. That almost 200 people, here from this property, that have to find a home.”
“I think it’s time the City needs to step up. There is some low income housing, but our income is just above the threshold at middle class. A lot of tenants here are shift workers. Our income doesn’t cover high rent. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place because there is next to nothing available for middle class families. We are the working poor,” Davidson said.
To add insult to injury, garbage is piling up around bins, on balconies and all over the property, said Davidson. Garbage hasn’t been cleared since Feb. 18.
“There are two bins emptied just once a week for all these units, we are lucky if they don’t get filled with drive-by illegal dumping,” Davidson said.
“I called the number on the garbage bin to ask when they were coming to do a garbage pick up. That’s when we found out the property had been sold two weeks ago. The new owners had not renewed the garbage contract. It had not been transferred over.”
The plight of the tenants at Pine Crest are not the only Prince Rupert evictees.
Another Prince Rupert property also received eviction notices for the same renoviction reason on the same day.
Marvin Spencer has lived in his two-bedroom unit on First Ave. West for five months. He lives in the multi-unit building with his wife, nine-year-old child, and a four-month-old baby. He said came home from Terrace on Feb. 26 to find the RTB 29 form, ‘Four months notice to end tenancy for demolition, renovation, repair, or conversion of a rental unit’, taped to his door.
“We’ve lived here only five months. It was hard to find this place. We were in a much smaller unit before,” Spence said. “It was not an easy time looking. It was very hard to find this place. Now we have to start over.”
“I hadn’t realized it would be so tough,” Spence said, “The penny’s just dropped. The news is just sinking in hearing about so many other families. There’s lots of people. I don’t think they will all find anything.”
Spence currently pays $900 per month for his two-bedroom unit, but his previous search indicated a three-bedroom unit would be in the range of $1,800. The massive increase in cost has him questioning landlords and if the one additional bedroom is actually worth another $900 per month.
It’s clear that not all tenants have absorbed the implications of the eviction notices. One senior citizen tenant, The Northern View spoke to, who lives in the same building as Spence, acknowledged she had also received the same notice as Spence, from the landlord, however, she was surprised to learn that it was an eviction.
The building where Spence and three other families currently live has been purchased by a numbered company, 1232062 B.C. LTD., based in Vancouver. He said he was provided his new landlord’s name, and that the he discovered that the new landlord’s address on the eviction notice is a well-maintained, 18-storey residential building in Vancouver. Spence said he expected to hear from the building owners in a few days.
The building permit numbers listed in the eviction notice Spence received add legitimacy to the renoviction. The two permits were issued by the City of Prince Rupert on Feb 25, in direct in numerical sequence following the two building permits for Pine Crest Townhomes.
The Northern View has reached out to the City of Prince Rupert, the province of B.C., who is responsible for housing and the two companies listed on the eviction notices, however, each has not immediately responded.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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