Robert Nicholson says if he can’t find a home by February, he’ll likely have to live out of his van.
He’s one of many residents at the Hiawatha RV Park speaking out against a four-month eviction notice, issued to them this week.
Resident Victoria Fox spoke out yesterday (Oct. 29) against the notice, saying it doesn’t give residents enough time to find a new home.
At the end of, February 2021, Edmonton-based developer Westcorp plans to begin demolishing the 44 homes that remain at the complex in order to erect a large condo development.
Nicholson says he, like many others in the neighbourhood, would like an extension to the eviction notice. An online petition in support of extending it until April has garnered nearly 1,500 signatures. He said “pretty much everybody” in the park shares the same view.
“There are people like Victoria, myself, Nicole, Geoff, Eddie and his wife down at the end… Stacey, Mike, we’re all on disability… now we’re all struggling here to figure out what we’re going to do, and where we’re going to go… I just don’t know what to do.”
He said the timing of the eviction notice came as a surprise.
“We knew it was coming, but we didn’t expect it to be coming so soon. They had sent us a notice on the 6th of October, stating we wouldn’t be getting our four-month notice for a few months. And then all of a sudden, 21 days later, it’s in our mailbox.”
Nicholson knows those watching from afar may not understand.
“I read the comments online as well, people are saying, ‘well you had ten years to find a place’. But they don’t understand that the rents in here are so affordable… where am I going to find a two-bedroom place for what I’m paying right now?”
He echoed what Fox previously said, saying the affordable housing in Kelowna comes with one to two-year waiting lists.
In addition to the low availability of affordable housing, Nicholson says moving during the winter would be a nightmare for people with disabilities, like himself.
A severe back injury has made it difficult for Nicholson to perform tasks during the winter. He said outdoor activities are next to impossible, should they last more than five minutes.
“I broke my back, right… I’ve got titanium in my back, so I have a really hard time being out in the cold… If I do five minutes of work outside in the cold, my back is killing me for two days. I can barely walk.”
A single father, on disability income, with a disabled child, Nicholson is out of ideas.
He says he picked up a van from a late friend, in case he’s forced to sleep outside.
“I had to, I just had to pick up something. If there’s enough room in the back for a little double air mattress, and me. My son’s going to be over at his mom’s.”
On Oct. 29 Westcorp said a proposed extension to the eviction notice, “remains to be seen.” With regards to the petition receiving nearly 1,500 signatures by Oct. 30, Westcorp was not immediately available for comment.
“We know it’s coming, we know we’ve got to go, but all we’re asking for is a couple of extra months so we can get our affairs in order… a couple of months, that’s all,” said Nicholson.
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