British Columbia

B.C. housing and anti-poverty advocate now facing eviction himself

Paul Lagace is being evicted from his apartment in Prince Rupert, B.C, for some of the same reasons that he goes to court to represent others.

Paul Lagace has been given notice to clear out of his apartment in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Rental prices have significantly increased in Prince Rupert over the past few years, according to local realty companies. (Shutterstock / Slava Dumchev)

A housing advocate in Prince Rupert, B.C., who fights on behalf of people facing eviction is now being evicted himself. 

Paul Lagace, who is a legal advocate and co-ordinator at the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre, has defended those facing homelessness for eight years. 

"I'm going through what my clients go through every day." 

Lagace was told the reason for the eviction is that his landlord's father wants to move into the unit. 

Lagace supports a daughter in a nearby community, and said that despite having a decent job, he cannot afford the rent in Prince Rupert at the current rates. He is unsure if he could even find a place due to a limited supply of rentals. 

"I don't know where I'm going to go, and I don't know how I'm going to afford it."

The reality of real estate in northern B.C.

The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board reported that Prince Rupert has seen the average selling price for a detached home increase from $278,040 in March 2019 to $430,162 in March 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association predicts average prices to rise an additional 10 to 15 per cent in 2021. 

Judy Park, property manager at Tinker Realty, said rent has increased significantly over the past few years in Prince Rupert. Park said that rental properties are getting harder to come by in the city. 

"There isn't much supply out there… therefore you're able to charge more." 

According to Park, monthly rent over the past two years has increased by "a couple hundred dollars if not more."

"Nurses can't afford this community, people having good jobs can't afford this community," said Lagace. 

The fight to stay

Although Lagace's landlord is determined to evict him, Lagace plans to fight to stay in the place. 

"You know I'll fight it, it's what I do… my landlord is going to have a bit of a battle." 

If Lagace loses the battle, he will have to be out of his place around Christmas. 

"I haven't slept well."

Paul Lagace has been working as housing advocate for close to a decade. For the most part, that has meant fighting on behalf of those who are facing unjust eviction. But now the legal advocate and coordinator for Prince Rupert's Unemployed Action Centre is facing eviction from his Prince Rupert apartment. 7:20

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that Paul Legace is a lawyer. In fact, he is a housing advocate.
    Sep 11, 2021 12:01 PM PT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Gomez is a CBC Reporter in Vancouver. You can contact her at michelle.gomez@cbc.ca.

With files from Daybreak North

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