It’s getting more difficult for newcomers to call Revelstoke home, and the Coronavirus pandemic could be partially to blame.
“This year by far, is very different,” said Matt Cherry, moderator of the Facebook group Revy Rentals, which provides local rental options.
The group has over 11,000 members, of which 1,800 joined in the last two months.
Traditionally, finding housing during the fall/winter is difficult due to people coming to ski and few staff housing options.
“But this year is unreal,” Cherry said.
|In the 2016 census, 7,547 called Revelstoke home. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)|
For the last six years, Cherry has owned and managed multiple rental properties in the city. Previously, he said the most responses he got for a rental room was 63 during a two week period. Recently, he got 108 responses in less than two days.
“It was overwhelming,” said Cherry.
According to Facebook analytics, up to 90 per cent of individuals joining Revy Rentals are Canadians. Cherry said last year, the majority was international.
This fall, many of the renters seeking housing on the Facebook group appear to be remote workers, even aerospace engineers.
Cherry said this winter, many people are coming from major cities, like Toronto, preferring to work from afar in a ski town.
According to a recent report on padblogger, an apartment rental and lifestyle website, Toronto has the most expensive rent in Canada, costing more than $2,000 on average for a one bedroom apartment.
Trying to find home during a pandemic
Gemma Melius and her partner recently got jobs at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The two have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months.
The resort has yet to build staff housing for its employees. In July, the resort said it was working on staff housing options and hoped to have a proposal ready by the end of this year.
Melius said it’s hard contending against remote workers, who probably have much larger salaries and can afford higher rent.
“We just can’t compete,” said Melius.
She said if they cannot find accommodation by the end of the month, the two will be forced to not accept their jobs at the ski hill and move elsewhere.
For Revelstoke’s John Antoniuk, life seemed good in August. Then, everything crumbled.
His mental health took a dive due to ending employment and stress from the pandemic. In September, he was told to move out of his rental suite by the end of October as his landlord needed the space to house family.
“I was just crushed,” Antoniuk said.
He said for the last six years, he found accommodation by word of mouth. But his social circle has now grown so small due to COVID-19, he said that isn’t going to work this time.
He’s looked online, but there’s too much competition.
“I don’t even know how to find a place now. I am at the place where I can’t fake it. I can’t put on a smile and pretend,” said Antoniuk.
He said he might have to enact Plan B, which is to live in a camper van or a tent, adding the idea of becoming homeless is something he’s come to accept.
Recently, Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess tried moving to Revelstoke for winter work, but fell victim to rental scams, twice. In total, the couple lost $2,600 trying to rent property that didn’t exist.
“We just want to make it work in Revelstoke so badly,” said Melius.
“But finding housing here is such a mystical process.”
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