By: Tony Davis
Pamela Deltor talking to a room full of PEI residents at a community meeting surrounding the topic of affordable housing across the island.
Pamela Detlor watched the housing crisis unfold in Summerside at Heritage Park where residents were told they had to vacate their homes. The land owner couldn’t deal with infrastructure costs, she said.
Detlor’s mother was one of the tenants who had to relocate. She lived in the park for 40 years.
“A woman who was a cancer survivor was forced into bankruptcy… she had to move outside the city of Summerside, she lost her community,” Detlor said she also had a 33-year-old neighbour who committed suicide.
Detlor’s mother was lucky, she had a place to move her mini-home, a plot of land Detlor bought in Linkletter.
She was one of many who gathered in Charlottetown last Thursday to tell their story among other concerned citizens at the P.E.I. Farm Centre. The issue has become Island wide, and the battle for affordable housing seems to be centred in the capital city, where the vacancy rate has sunk to below one per cent.
Aimee Power, a community member and one of the organizers of the Fight for Affordable Housing event.
Aimee Power was one of the organizers of the event. She spoke about how the prices for housing have sky rocketed in Charlottetown the last couple of years. A lot of the houses which were perfect starter homes around $120,000 have been snatched up and used as rentals, she said.
“You get to rent it out and fix it up, it is a tourism rental for the summer and then have students in there for the winter. But it affects student’s as well, because if they want to stay here, if they want to live here, if they love it here they are not able to do that either.”
Teresa Doyle is a Charlottetown resident who is also worried about young people unable to find affordable housing, she said at an intimate round table discussion with other concerned citizens.
“The average independent musician in Canada makes $7,000 a year, so when you talk low income people a lot of those people are the creative people in the community. Charlottetown is going to be a really dull city when all the musicians, artists and filmmakers leave…”
She wants to know how we can hang on to that creative class in Charlottetown.
Rosalind Waters talks about the need for a tenants rights movement in PEI.
Rosalind Waters wants more protections put in place for those who rent in Charlottetown. Waters live in P.E.I. now but has worked as a community legal worker in the area of tenants’ rights in Toronto and Victoria for 20 years. Waters wants tenants to have the right of first refusal in Charlottetown, she said.
“What that means is if you get an eviction for renovation you get first dibs on the unit when it is compilated. In other jurisdictions tenants do have that right.”
Waters notices it’s not hard for landlords to manipulate rent legislation and profit, she said.
“So, while people living on low and modest incomes are losing their homes, there are those who are profiting enormously.”