Letters: week of Feb. 14

Caught in the squeeze of city’s rapidly rising housing market

Sir: Regarding the Feb. 7 article by Cathy Dobson, “Citizens alarmed by rise of illegal housing.”

I would like to add that there must be more and more families like us being displaced because landlords are selling properties to take advantage of the high prices they can command.

My husband and I are in our 60s and living on, what I thought, was a modest income. We have been put out of our house that we’ve rented for almost five years.

We’re not bitter. I think our landlord was smart to take advantage of making a high profit. However, we are now panicked trying to find adequate housing before our eviction date.

Rental prices are going through the roof because landlords know they can put multiple people in a place (not families) with multiple income streams to pay the rents they’re demanding; i.e. students, Nova expansion workers, etc.

Add to that people like us who can’t find a reasonably priced home to buy and are forced to rent. The rental market is flooded and competitive and “affordable senior housing” is misleading. It’s anything BUT affordable.

Who in authority can help?

We’ve worked hard since 2012 when we came to Canada with nothing to build two businesses that improve the lives of families in our community.

We’ve worked closely with our banker to establish and improve our credit rating and qualify for a mortgage. I was pretty proud of myself, until I discovered the mortgage we qualify for won’t buy a small bungalow in a less-than-desirable neighbourhood.

David and I have worked hard to pull ourselves out of the past and we don’t want to go backward at our age. We never thought that leaving Sarnia because we can’t afford to live here would ever be an option.

It is now.

 

Erin Thomas
Sarnia

 


 

Homeowner ordered to replace gas line

Sir: This is a letter to alert other homeowners in the Retlaw-McCaw street area of north Sarnia about a potential issue with natural gas lines.

Dating to around 1956, homes in that area are single-family, one-floor homes built on a concrete slab, with no basement, radiant floor heating, large lots and mature trees, in a sought-after neighbourhood.

I am the second homeowner in my neighbourhood to undergo a mandatory Union Gas meter replacement. After the meter was replaced on Nov. 22, 2018, I was served with an infraction notice from Union Gas stating that the “piping shall pass above grade before entry.”

My home, like many in the area, has a gas line that is below ground and comes up through the concrete slab.

After discussion with a supervisor I was initially told to disregard the notice. But on Dec. 17, I was again contacted by Union Gas about the infraction notice and advised my gas service may be shut off.  The London office said I had to have a contractor install new above-ground lines by Feb. 7 to comply with TSSA Standard.

I contacted the City Engineer and City Planner to investigate the impact this could have on the homes in my neighbourhood. They suggested I apply for a TSSA variance.

The cost of the application is $595, plus $169.50 per hour for the inspector to visit and inspect. I did not apply.

On Feb. 7 a Union Gas representative arrived. Following a discussion, the shut-off was postponed because I had begun the process of obtaining quotes for the cost of relocating the gas lines.  The London office has given me until Feb. 18 to have the work done or the gas will be shut off.

The homes in my neighbourhood have survived more than 60 years, but now, many of their owners must either pay for an expensive TSSA Standard variance, or an even more expensive relocation of their gas lines.

 

Tracy White
Sarnia