A group of Metchosin tiny home residents facing eviction due to zoning limitations are sharing their story in hopes of convincing government to take action on the housing crisis.
For two years, Bryce Knudtson has lived in a home he built with his father on land that contains several other tiny homes, placed there by permission of property co-owner Saige Lancaster. But a notice of bylaw violation first delivered in January gave a final, extended deadline of Aug. 31 for the homes to be removed, or Lancaster would face fines for non-compliance.
“It’s been a lot of feelings as you can imagine. Anger, being upset. We had lived peacefully for two years myself, and three years for others on the property, with no complaints,” Knudtson said. “Even if I find another location for this tiny house, there is no guarantee the same thing won’t happen there. That’s the hardest thing, the uncertainty of it all.”
Given the lack of available affordable housing in Greater Victoria and beyond, he said, many of his neighbours are resorting to leaving the province or the country entirely. He is running out of housing options despite searching for months for either a new home or piece of land on which to move his tiny home.
While he would not comment on the specifics of the situation given it is the subject of an ongoing bylaw enforcement matter, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns clarified that district zoning bylaws only allow for one primary dwelling and one accessory dwelling on a lot.
While residents have voiced a desire for decades to maintain the community’s rural feel, he said, bylaw changes have been pursued more recently to provide an option for multiple dwellings to exist on a single property.
Ranns noted if that desire no longer exists, or if residents feel more need to debate the matter, the upcoming municipal election offers a perfect opportunity.
Knudtson and Lancaster have already got conversations going around their situation and that of others in similar circumstances around the province.
They are among the organizers of a social media group BC Housing Crisis and an online petition calling for action on the part of all levels of governments. It calls for a state of emergency to be declared over the lack of affordable housing, and that a moratorium be placed on evictions of illegal dwellings until sufficient affordable housing is available. Specific to the Metchosin situation, the petition calls for the creation of new zoning allowances for alternative housing communities such as tiny homes.
Lancaster said she will formally evict Knudtson and the other tiny home residents to comply with the district’s bylaws. But she hopes changes will be made to allow her to offer her well-suited forest property for such housing in future, as the previous owner did for years, going so far as to create level spaces for trailers or tiny homes.