I’ve had the chance to meet this family as part of this campaign adventure, and let me tell you, lucky me!
Bronwyn and Evan are both Victoria born and raised. Bronwyn grew up in Quadra Village and Evan in James Bay. They love this city and they both do incredibly important work, fighting daily alongside those living with addiction. Evan is an outreach worker and Bronwyn does triage and intake. They offer individuals and their families counselling, support, housing, resources and more. Without a doubt, we need them here.
Like those they support, these two have faced very real challenges, including housing insecurity. Seven years ago, they were living in a cramped one bedroom with their daughter and Bronwyn was 9 months pregnant. The day she went into labour, they finally got the call – they were accepted into subsidized unit through BC housing. This housing provided the safe, secure, and affordable space this young family needed to live in. Like so many others, they faced other challenges related to the crunch in our city. At one point their childcare became unsafe and Bronwyn had to leave her job because they simply couldn’t find an alternative.
As this family got back on their feet, however, they couldn’t find a way to leave their subsidized unit. These below market units are tied to income, so when both Bronwyn and Evan were working (for a living wage employer!), they found themselves paying the market rate but still taking up a subsidized unit. Given the work they do, they knew how much others in the Victoria needed their spot. But Victoria doesn’t have enough appropriate and attainable home for families like this and it was years before they were finally able to get themselves into a market CRD housing unit.
Moving to this new unit came at the cost of the neighbourhood that they love and have helped make vibrant, healthy, and safe. The neighbhourhood is no longer accessible to those working at the coffee shops that serve as a community hub or those working in the not-for-profits that support those in need. We can’t build a city where those who support our most vulnerable cannot also live in the neighbourhoods they help to thrive.
Now, this family will never be able to support the kind of home that Bronwyn grew up in Quadra Village – even though her family did it through the 80s and 90s on a single income. But they don’t even want a single family dwelling! Looking after a roof? Mowing a lawn? No thank you, says Bronwyn. Her vision? Townhomes with shared common space, the chance to build connections with her neighbours, to grow a garden with her community, and to live in the place she works and loves. She’s talking my language!
In the meantime, they’ve left their kids in their old schools. Change is tough, and these two are choosing to drive their kids into school every day rather than ask them to start all over. But why do they have to make that decision at all? Why aren’t we building more housing around these schools? Why aren’t there diverse housing options for a rich and inclusive and diverse neighbourhood? We’ve got work to do!
Hey Bronwyn – what do you love about yyj?
I love what the Quadra village community has become. I’ve watched it transition over the past 35 years from a place without a name, a place to drive past, to a destination. It’s vibrant and kind and welcoming. And one of the core reasons is the Quadra village community centre. They work tirelessly in the community to make accessible and supportive programming. When things were hard for us, we could always turn to the community centre for fresh veggies, drop in groups and parenting support. We are so lucky to have an inclusive space and I think they are what truly made this area a neighbourhood.