After four years of living in the Brentwood area of Burnaby, my landlord has notified me that I am being evicted. He needed the property for personal use. I moved from Abbotsford when I was 18, looking for a place to get comfortable in as I pursued my Bachelor's of Music Therapy. I wasn't expecting to find the community that exists so beautifully in my neighbourhood. It wasn't like anything I'd previously experienced growing up.
No matter the amount of stress from school or work, I always had my quaint apartment to come home to. It was a constant when I so desperately needed it. I loved passing the local shops on Hastings on my bus home. I discovered the Italian community around me with great joy as it connected me to my own cultural roots.
I understood my rental to be a privilege, so I treated it as well as I could. When my partner Jackson moved in 3 years ago, we worked together to maintain our home. We always paid rent on time. We repainted our walls. We updated our light fixtures. I even borrowed my dad's powerwasher for our deck. About a year ago, my landlord asked if we wanted to buy the suite from him at below market value once I was finished school.
You can imagine that we were beyond thrilled. I'd been cautious about seeing myself in Burnaby, but my landlord had just offered a way that I could enter into the real estate market.
I never thought I'd want a mid-70s drafty apartment this much. I started believing that I could one day even fulfill my dream of opening up a non-profit music therapy practice for neurodiverse children in the neighbourhood. I started dreaming of eventually having a family and a comfortable house that we could pour all of our love into.
Being evicted came as a shock. I’m now needing to move out in the final semester of my schooling.
I feel like so much of my life has been planted into Burnaby. I'm trying to be optimistic about the possible opportunities. Although we can’t find any apartments for the price of what we’re currently paying, Jax has a great job that pays pretty well, and I do okay for myself during the summers.
We’d survive. I’m grateful for that. We've reached out to countless ads, checking at least twice a day for new listings that we could afford. We went and saw a place yesterday that was doing small group hostings every 15 minutes.
I've gathered our credit scores, references, and rental applications into a folder for each listing. As we await replies, I’ve had to face the reality that I might need to leave this neighbourhood.
I’m not writing this to speak ill of my landlord. He was good to us and I genuinely believe he wouldn’t be evicting us if it wasn’t necessary. I’m not writing this to advocate for affordable housing (although it couldn’t hurt). I’m writing this in case I have to leave. I wanted to thank the sweet Nonnos and Nonnas who sit on their porches and people-watch in the summers. I wanted to thank April’s Aquarium on Gilmore and Hastings for our fishy friends and a consistently wonderful store experience.
I wanted to thank Parkcrest Diner for being a perfectly-preserved time capsule of a classic diner. I wanted to thank all of the people I’ve exchanged smiles and conversation with on my walks.
Thanks, Burnaby. You’re a truly unique place. I hope I have the privilege of staying with you.
Micaela Pirritano, Burnaby
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