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Vancouver woman facing eviction fears she was exposed to COVID-19 at rental showings

Last Updated Aug 28, 2020 at 7:18 am PST

FILE -- Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at a lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

East Vancouver renter waiting for COVID-19 results after viewing multiple rental suites

Sarah Lindsay has spent years battling to be compensated for displacement due to development

Searching for a new home, East Vancouver woman says landlords are not taking pandemic precautions seriously

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After 17 years in her East Vancouver home, where she also runs a small business, Sarah Lindsay is facing homelessness during a global pandemic. Now, she fears she’s become sick while searching for a new place to live.

The 38-year-old antiques and film prop provider says she’s been in self isolation due to being immunocompromised. She only leaves for necessary trips, like to view potential new homes, where landlords don’t seem to be taking precautions seriously.

“And I’m going to these showings and there’s sometimes 15 plus people packed into these viewings, no masks, no social distancing, and the landlords will tell me things like, ‘Oh, well, the virus isn’t on the island, so it’s okay, you’re safe’ or, ‘The virus is a hoax, you don’t have to wear a mask, I’d prefer you didn’t wear a mask over your face.”

Lindsay says she’s experiencing a tight, weighted feeling in her chest, coughing and a sore throat, as well as a loss of taste. She is waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test taken earlier this week.

“I had a family whose kids were like, sing-songing about the virus as fake news around me while I was outside and the parents were laughing,” she says.

Lindsay says one potential landlord even tried to hug her.

“It’s a two-way street and you want to find someone who aligns with your values and who you know is going to be reliable. And I mean, this pandemic, if they can’t even get on the side of public health regulations for someone who’s at risk, it’s not, it’s not really inspiring to be like, well, ‘let me sign up for your rental.’”

Development-related evictions ‘cruel’, says Lindsay

Lindsay says the developer, Port Living, that bought the land and home she is living in currently originally planned to build a residential tower on Broadway, just east of Kingsway. However, representatives of Port Living, according to Lindsay, have let it slip that the development isn’t necessarily going ahead at this time.

“We’re hearing from representatives at the company, some of them that are less careful of what they say, that they’re going to be just simply moving my house so they can sell the vacant lot. But because of that, there’s a loophole where it’s still like being, quote unquote, demolished. So I still have to be evicted. It’s actually just cruelty at this point and wholly unnecessary because it’s just so they can sell a property for more money and as fast as they can, which is just the worst time to do such a thing,” she says.

She believes if her house isn’t going to be demolished, she should be able to stay. Lindsay wants to see the city and province do more to protect vulnerable renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.