In the last month several dozen residents living in Function Junction have returned home to discover notices under their doors from landlords and Whistler Fire Services advising them that they have 30 days to move off the premises. Some have already left while others have been given temporary one-month extensions.
More notices will be handed out shortly, with residents and landlords being given between 30 days and six months to vacate illegal suites, depending on the kinds of activities taking place in the warehouses and shops they live over.
"The buildings are seen as a fire hazard to some degree, which makes sense to some degree, but what matters is how it was dealt with – flyers under the door informing you that you have 30 days to leave, it’s a bit of a shitty situation," said Christian Kessner.
Kessner is one of the tenants that is being evicted, along with eight others in the same building. He estimates that between 40 and 80 people will be affected.
He returned home after travelling for three months to find that he had been given notice on March 5 to vacate by April 4. He has received a 30-day extension given the circumstances, but will have to find a new home in early May.
"Right now I feel let down. I just put some money into renovating my place, and I’m thankful for the rent I pay now. Now I have to go somewhere else and probably pay for three times as much," said Kessner.
His landlord in apologetic and has hired a consultant to find out what changes have to be made to the property to bring it up to fire code, so that it can be rezoned to allow residential housing. In the meantime, Kessner says he has been told that there is nothing he can do. He hopes that the municipality will get involved.
"This is where people with low incomes can afford to live. There is limited accommodation in Whistler for people, and not much that is really affordable," said Kessner.
He knows of one resident who has been living in Function Junction for 18 years. He also knows of a father with three older kids who is contemplating moving because there’s nothing else in their price range.
"They’re low income earners in that sense, and may have to leave Whistler," said Kessner.
Garry Leson is that father and he’s been living in Function Junction for two-and-half years with his sons Terry and Tom and daughter Megan.
Until they found their place in Function, they were forced to move three winters in a row as their leases ran out. He missed work in the process.