Rent hike tests faith in humanity

To the editor,

Dear Hon. Rich Coleman (Minister of Housing), Donna Bisaro (Whitworth Holdings Ltd.), Mayor Sharon Shepherd, and the people of Kelowna.

Last week a registered letter arrived at my door stating that I and the residents of the 64 apartments in the complex I live in will be facing a “dispute resolution hearing” with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

None of us had any idea there was a dispute to begin with.

Apparently the owners of our buildings, Whitworth Holdings, wants to raise our rent by 29 per cent and the Tenancy Branch doesn’t seem to think that an informal process to perhaps resolve the issue before it gets to them is important.

It’s not so much the money that bothers me but the inhumanity of this act.

I will be fine financially regardless of the outcome. There are many people who live here, however, who will not.

This place is at the bottom of the rental scene here and has many people living here with severe health and financial challenges.

Most of them feel threatened by such a formal process.

The fact that the notice was delivered in the middle of Homelessness Awareness Week and that the dispute resolution hearing is scheduled for Dec. 27th at 9 a.m. is so callous as to be almost funny in a very sick way.

Why the Residential Tenancy Board seems to think that we have to engage in an informal process before approaching the property owners with our complaints and yet the owners do not have to abide by this process in this case is beyond me.

Why Whitworth Holdings initiated it and agreed to go along with it also amazes me.

Why this community seems to put up with this attitude is simply bizarre.

It is not the first time I’ve witnessed callous indifference to the plight of others here.

I’m a man who cares about myself, cares about others and the state of this world.

If sometimes I get upset, it’s because of this. I often feel that because I get upset I am seen as either some kind of hero or someone who has something wrong with him.

It’s very isolating and very uncomfortable.

If I leave this town, which I am certainly considering very strongly, it won’t be because I don’t have what it takes to appreciate the good things here.

It will be because I have come to realize the importance of my values and have found people who share them more strongly elsewhere.

I hope the people in this community take a good hard look at what they are doing to themselves and find a way to get moving on solutions.

I’ll be doing my bit while I’m still here.

Garth Thomson,

Kelowna, BC

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