A group of University of Victoria students is being forced to find a new home because of a bylaw that at least one Saanich Councillor is calling "out of date."
The students rent a seven-bedroom home on Teakwood Place.
They were served with an eviction notice after someone made a complaint under the bylaw, which only allows a maximum occupancy of four unrelated people to live in one residence.
At a Monday Saanich council meeting, Emma Edmonds, a third-year political science student and varsity athlete, informed council of the precarious situation she and her six roommates find themselves in.
"The spirit of the bylaw was very much put in place to keep students safe. They don't want students crammed into these tiny little apartments," she said. "But when the bylaw is followed to the letter and not in the spirit of it, it allows the city to legally remove, in our case, seven young women who have nowhere else to go."
The bylaw excludes boarders, daycare children, or groups of persons forming a monastery, seminary, convent, or similar religious group. It does not specifically mention students.
Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries, a UVic student himself as recent as 2017, said the bylaw was “absolutely” out of date.
Speaking on CFAX 1070, De Vries discussed the hurdles students encounter in finding off-campus housing and recognized the need for larger groups of students to rent homes together.
“It’s one of the only ways to find affordable housing close to the university,” he said. “You’re looking at about $750 dollars a bedroom. We have to look at a better way to address this.”
On Thursday, de Vries took his concerns a step further, saying people with disabilities living in group homes often with a live-in caretaker would also be affected by this bylaw.
"The only way that these people can afford to live in our housing market is by living together," de Vries said.
Edmonds told council her roommates' situation is not unique and believes the current bylaw is discriminatory to students.
“When students say to Saanich, we need affordable housing, we are dismissed and given a reality check that this is the market here," she said.
"Though when owning residents in Saanich call in to complain about student housing, they aren’t given the same reality check…instead they are told, don’t worry, get one more of your friends to complain and we’ll evict them."
De Vries believes there could be hundreds of students in a similar situation to Edmonds and her roommates.
The councillor said he’s working on amending the bylaw but did not give a timeline.
He believes a bylaw amendment will be coming forward “as soon as possible” and said he is working on it.
Edmonds said she and her friends were told that they must be out of the home by Feb. 1.
According to de Vries, the students have found alternate accommodations to make that happen.