They know it’s for the better, but the remaining nine tenants in the soon-to-be demolished Townley Lodge at 1780 Townley St. want to stay to the end.
“I’ve been offered a place, but I’m just moving to another Greater Victoria Housing Society, it’s the same thing, why do I want to hurry,?” said Guy Moyls, who’s been at Townley for 7.5 years.
Plans at Townley call for a new 54-unit, three-storey apartment building for older adults and 10 family townhouses to replace the tired 39-unit building that’s been in the Camosun neighbourhood since 1967.
Short term tenants have until Sept. 30 to move out, while others have until the end of the year. Moyls is paying rent on two suites this month, including his new place in Esquimalt, but with two ruptured discs in his back, he’s waiting for help to move.
“I’m going to have to leave a couple of my bigger [furniture] items here,” Moyls said. “It’s not the best situation, it’s just that everything’s so expensive, there’s nothing under $900 on the [open market],” Moyls said.
Long time Townley resident Jim Ross had also been offered a home by GVHS yet is reluctant to take it despite his impending move out date.
“It’s a tough time for people here, most are gone but some of us haven’t left yet,” Ross said. “We’re faced with an unaffordable housing market. I pay $300 per month as a pensioner for a bachelor suite. Only a couple of us work, the rest are on disability or are pensioners, and all our rents are under $500.”
“We don’t all want to go back into another Victoria Housing place,” said Kaia Howe, who recently moved into Townley on a short-term rental knowing the building is coming down.
In 2016 GVHS’ application to rezone 1780 Townley for redevelopment faced harsh criticism from the neighbourhood and was turned down by Saanich council. But in the midst of a Greater Victoria housing crisis, council soon came to appreciate the addition of affordable housing.
In the meantime GVHS let’s Townley residents know it planned to replace the building.
Kaye Melliship, executive director of GVHS, said the society has offered to help all tenants, telling them they need to move.
And while some moved out, the rezoning and building permit delays caused much of Townley to sit vacant in the midst of a housing crunch. That led GVHS to offer fixed-term tenancies such as Howe’s, but those are now coming to an end.
“We have found GVHS places for some of the original tenants while others took it as a chance to move, some to get closer to their kids, some elderly residents have gone into assisted living, the tenants have moved into a variety of things,” Melliship said. “At this time we are working with the last few to help them move, we’ve tried to set up meetings.”
Unfortunately, those remaining aren’t overly keen on GVHS’ help, citing a lack of will by GVHS to pay for needed maintenance within the building as it’s slated to come down.
“I understand that the tenants are very upset, they don’t want to move and realize they have to move,” Melliship said. “Some are on fixed term agreements and they’re using fairly aggressive language that they won’t leave, but they entered into the agreement. And we still continue to work with the original tenants, to make sure they have a home when it comes time to demolish the building.
“It’s a terrible market, timing is terrible, that’s why we’re working hard to re-house people.”