A couple from Nanaimo, B.C., who says they were evicted from their home last month has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they’ve received.
Sharon Kowalchuk, who was recently declared palliative by her doctor due to multiple organ failure, only has a few months left to live.
She and her husband, Gerry Casey, said they had been living at their Nanaimo rental home, paying $1,050 a month for a room and shared kitchen and bathroom, when their landlord told them the frequent ambulance calls were becoming a nuisance.
The couple moved into a hotel room but Kowalchuk was hoping for a more comfortable living situation before she passes away.
A GoFundMe set up for the couple has raised more than $35,000.
“It’s amazing, it’s simply amazing, people are great,” Kowalchuk told Global News Tuesday. “I appreciate it with all my heart, thank you for helping me.”
The money will go towards getting the couple a new apartment and the rest will go into a trust.
Casey said he has also been blown away by the support and attention their story has received.
“Thank you, thank you, very very grateful,” he said. “I didn’t think there were people that really cared. Not many people anyway.”
“All I can say is thank you so much. It will give us a bit of a life that she has left.”
However, Casey said the stress and the move have taken a major toll on his wife’s health.
“She’s having a heck of a time, it’s taken a lot out of her like you wouldn’t believe,” he said.
“It’s all going to happen right in front of me, when I get a smile out of her, it just makes my day.”
Global News reached out to the landlord last week but he said Kowalchuk is lying about what happened.
B.C.’s Housing Minister, Ravi Kahlon, said in a statement Tuesday that he has made sure that the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Compliance and Enforcement Unit was aware of this situation, and he has been informed that an investigation has been opened.
“Because an investigation has commenced, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on the details of that investigation until it has been concluded,” Kahlon said. “That said, the CEU has previously been successful in investigating cases of serious, repeat and deliberate non-compliance with tenancy laws and levies monetary penalties, where necessary.”
For now, the couple’s focus is to get settled in their new home and enjoy the time they have left together.
Their family is also rallying around them.
“I thank you so much, you have no idea how humbling that is for us,” Kathy Zimmer, Kowalchuk’s sister said.
The Compliance and Enforcement Unit is interested in hearing from any other tenants that may have lived at the address in question during the months of January and February 2023. If anyone has information that they believe could assist the CEU with this investigation, contact them through the general contact centre for the RTB, either by phone (1-800-665-8779) or email.