Some Gitanyow residents received a reality check when they received eviction notices from their band office.
The eviction notices were issued based on Gitanyow band housing policy, where verbal and written notices are issued.
The notices are part of Gitanyow’s attempt to settle housing arrears, which have built up over the years and now sit at nearly $900,000.
Mark Starlund, Gitanyow chief councillor, while regretting the possibility of families having to relocate, stands behind the policy.
“Nobody’s actually been evicted yet,” Starlund said, adding how this situation has effected other areas of band governance.
“We’ve had to take money away from other necessary programs because some people for whatever reason aren’t paying rent,” he said.
One Gitanyow band member and his family that received an eviction notice is appealing the decision.
The reason he and his family were given notice is because the multi-plex they currently live in is a source of revenue for the band, he said.
There are fewer than 100 places to live in Gitanyow, including, houses and multi-plex units, so there are few options for the small family.
“If forced to move, we would probably move in with one of our parents until we find a place to live,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Interior News.
An aspect that may come into play is how active this member has been in the Gitanyow community.
“My role has diminished in the past 15 months,” he said, because he has had to take a job which requires him to be away from home a lot.
“Before then I was involved in coaching, assisting with the youth and was a volunteer fire fighter.”
Jason Derrick, Gitanyow housing councillor, is adamant about doing his job and holding fellow community members accountable.
“We are operating in accordance with our housing policy,” Derrick said.
“We have a housing shortage and people aren’t paying their rent.
“This is like stealing from your own community.”
Gitanyow follows Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation guidelines regarding all of its rental units, including signing rental contracts and informing tenants of responsibilities, Derrick said.
“Safety within our community is our first priority,” Derrick added, but the Gitanyow band has added a few items to the contract.
“Alcohol is not permitted in our multi-plex units is one of our additions.”
The Gitanyow band keeps a record of each warning they issue to tenants and although it’s a tough thing to enforce it must be done, Derrick said.
“I feel for the people that receive these notices,” Derrick added.
“But we’re not push-overs.
“It is up to us as management to make sure we act fairly and follow through with our policies.”