When I became president of the Oliver Community League in 2015, I met some folks that had searched for months for a home in Oliver appropriate for a family. This shocked me. Before I became OCL president, I spent about a year living in the UK, where multi-unit residential housing catering to all ages is standard. I’d assumed the same is true in Oliver. It isn’t.
One father of two young children told me his family aggressively searched for a home for six months. They were moving to Edmonton from eastern Canada and Eastern Europe, to be close to their family, who lived in Oliver. They wanted to be close to work and only need one vehicle. Eventually they found a townhouse they renovated extensively to fit enough bedrooms for their kids.
Another looked for two years for a home in Oliver big enough to start a family. But just prior to putting an offer on a three-bedroom apartment condominium in Grandin, their realtor discovered the building had anti-child age restrictions. They too eventually bought a townhouse.
My partner and I like to be prepared.
After hearing these stories, we decided to look for our “forever” home in Oliver. We saw handful of units, in buildings a short walk to Oliver or Grandin schools and large enough for a small family. All were age-restricted. We’ve now left the searching to a realtor. We’ve been looking now for almost a year.
Age restrictions create barriers to diversity and inclusion in our core neighbourhoods. Not everyone can afford the time, money for car maintenance or the stress of owning a detached house to live in the suburbs — where Edmonton tells you you’re supposed to raise a family.
Because these barriers restrict choice, age restrictions for housing is a human rights issue, and not just a preferred living style. I just hope that a shift in provincial legislation in the next year will make that decision more feasible.
President, Oliver Community League