Prince Rupert advocate praises proposed laws to curb renovictions

Joshua Azizi


This week, the BC provincial government proposed new measures to prevent illegal renovictions, and a tenant advocate from Prince Rupert predicts they'll be effective in the city.

Paul Legace is a legal advocate with the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre who helps support tenants at the Residential Tenancy Branch when they challenge eviction notices. 

He says that since the province lifted their eviction ban last September, he's seen a major increase in illegal renovictions in Prince Rupert.

An illegal renoviction happens when a landlord ends someone's tenancy and evicts them to conduct minor renovations that don't actually require them to move out, thus allowing landlords to bypass rent controls and raise rents by however much they want.

Proposed legislative changes will require landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch if they want to evict someone to do renovations.

"They have to get past the gatekeeper, the RTB (Residential Tenancy Branch), and then issue the notice, and then the tenant can dispute it. That should control it -- maybe not stop it, but it's certainly a very welcome step."

However, Legace also says that another major obstacle when it comes to housing in Prince Rupert is its low vacancy rate and the need for more affordable units. 

He raised concerns about recent pushback directed at two proposed housing projects -- one on McKay Street and Kootenay Avenue, and a Lax Kw'alaams housing development on 11th East and Edward Avenue.

"If I could make a plea to my community here -- when developments come and council's trying to put forward things, we need this in your backyard. We don't have a lot of space here. And look, let's put housing through various parts of the city and various neighbourhoods, but just stop complaining about it. We need it."

Last month, BC Housing reduced the number of units at the proposed social housing project at McKay and Kootenay from 38 to 30 following concerns about density from nearby residents.

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