By Ivan Leonard
The present chaotic housing situation faced by families in our community of North Vancouver is untenable. Our City is home to the highest percentage of renters in the Province, some 50% of its population.
It’s the lack of senior government programs to help maintain, add and replenish the older rental stock over the years that has caused this sudden fear and helplessness to reverberate throughout the Rental community. The situation for those renters living at the lower level of the income scale, many of whom exist on small pensions, while others have growing families and are living in older buildings, is deplorable.
They are suddenly being faced with the fear and trauma of renoviction. One can only imagine their emotional response when confronted with the news that their building will be demolished and they will soon be homeless.
The questions now facing governments at all levels, is how to find or build, suitable and affordable rental accommodation for citizens and families with lower incomes.
Unfortunately, the reasons for the sudden demise of old rental buildings are not necessarily because of any deteriorating condition, but rather the cost of the land they occupy.
By neglecting to continue to provide and maintain housing policies and programs in effect in the 1970s and succeeding years, senior governments are now blamed for today’s consequences. Families, unable to pay the current exorbitant rent increases, are being torn apart.
Many are forced to move from their own communities, in their attempt to find affordable accommodation, while others struggle to keep their families together.
This lack of government responsibility and meaningful action has created a firestorm of problems for families and communities alike, as they face the consequences of the Governments’ inaction over the years.
The consequences of the growing trauma are the evolution of a new vocabulary for our homes, such as Renoviction; a Home is now a Condo, or a Laneway house, or an Infill. Redevelopment has totally obliterated the feeling of neighbourliness and community, while traffic sucks time from family togetherness.
Friends and neighbours are gone. The new suites are a quarter the size of their House. Their garden is now a balcony, maybe. The whole ambience and sense of happiness in one’s community has been destroyed.
Perhaps it’s now time for the Federal Government to seriously begin a program, to provide suitable affordable living, for those in need, within our communities.
Fortunately there is a ‘smidgen’ (an old English word meaning small) of help available. The developer of a rental building in Lower Lonsdale has employed a small company to satisfactorily relocate, in suitable accommodation, tenants being evicted. The developer is supporting the company by not moving on the building until all tenants are happily, relocated. I understand that many have resettled in the City of North Vancouver.