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Young Vancouver Island working professional running out of housing options

MARS Wildlife Rehab Manager affected by housing crisis
MARS’ Assistant Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation Kiersten Shylan is a few weeks away from having to move from her home of four years. Photo courtesy Kiersten Shylan

Kierstan Shyian has a good steady job and record as a good, reliable tenant.

The ugly spectre of homelessness is looming in her future, regardless.

The MARS wildlife rehabilitation assistant manager has been living in the same home for the past four years, but her landlord has opted to sell the property. Shyian has no plans to leave the area that she has called home for five years, leaving her with no concrete options for the future.

“Moving on is not really an option for me,” Shyian said. “I need to find a new place to live, preferably in the valley. I have no plans to move on if I can’t find anything. I’ll have to figure it out. I’m not going anywhere.”

Shyian moved to the Island from Alberta to work for MARS. She has a technical diploma in Biological Sciences and Renewable Resources, and a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences and a Certificate in Animal Care Aide. Her goal is to officially become a Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator.

Despite her professional qualifications and decent job, finding a place she can afford has proven difficult. MARS put out a call on its Facebook page and Shyian said she’s had a lot of people reaching out to help her find a place, but finding something relatively affordable for her and her pets has been hard.

”There’s not a lot of options for somebody on their own, a single, working professional like myself doesn’t have a lot of options,” she said. “People are like ‘you need to review your budget.’ If I could, I would. I only make so much money.”

“It’s hard because obviously… for most people who own pets, the pets are part of the family,” she said. “You’re not going to get rid of them just because you can’t find a place to live. I don’t think it’s fair for all of the people who do have a pet and who are good pet owners who have to either be homeless themselves or find something else.”

Since getting the news in November, Shyian has gotten into a habit that is too familiar for many people in the area: constantly checking listings on Facebook, Craigslist and anywhere else. A side effect of doing those kinds of searches is getting to see the stories of the many other people stuck in the same or worse situations.

“It’s hard because I know so many people are struggling. I check Facebook and things like Kijiji and Craigslist a couple of times per day. It’s really sad to see how many people are out there are in the same boat and don’t have a decent place to live, and can’t find out,” Shyian said. “It’s honestly really sad to see post about people who are living in a trailer with their three children and all that kind of stuff. It’s tough.”

She does have a temporary solution, but is looking for something between Campbell River and Union Bay that is more suitable for the long-term. People who know of a rental can contact Shyian at

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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