A Saanich couple with four children including a teenager with a rare genetic disease moved into their new home Tuesday thanks to the support of a local construction company.
Ian Arnold and his wife Allison Miller will no longer have to carry their son Corvin Miller up a flight of stairs to use the bathroom in their new place near the Lochside Trail after Saanich-based Horizon Pacific Contracting, with support from additional tradespeople, remodelled a rental home at their own cost.
Corvin has tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disease, whose symptoms include skin abnormalities and seizures. These conditions make it very difficult for him to walk, and impossible to climb stairs.
Corvin and the rest of his blended family were all smiles Tuesday as they toured their new home.
“It’s the end of a long journey and the start of a whole new way of living,” said Arnold. “With this new place, Corvin has a bedroom on the main floor that is his own. There is a fully accessible bathroom on the main floor that is his own, and it just means that everything is easier for us.”
This journey started when Corvin’s occupational therapist at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health pointed his parents towards the Step Up Community Build program that Horizon Pacific Contracting runs. It offers families in Greater Victoria a step up by providing a free renovation to reduce barriers.
But once the family had successfully applied for the program, other obstacles emerged. Their current Blanshard Courts home was not suitable for renovations. B.C. Housing identified a new home in Saanich, but the proposed additions did not pass muster with the District. Another unit in the same complex eventually became available, it too was not without its challenges.
“It was literally a hoarder house,” said Tim Agar, project manager for Horizon Pacific Contracting. “Mould three feet up the wall, full of asbestos, everything that could be wrong was pretty much wrong,” he said.
Horizon reached out to others in the construction community to collaborate, which is what ultimately brought it to completion, Agar said.
The outcome of the work is a neat and tidy home of some 1,800-square-foot that will radically change the way Corvin and his siblings currently live.
“Half of our living room is devoted to Corvin’s bedroom,” said Arnold. “It has its dresser, it has its bed, it has place to change him in the morning.”
“I brush his teeth on the couch right now,” added Corvin’s mother Allison Miller. “We have all our meals in our living room, because the kitchen is too small to fit Corvin’s wheelchair into it.”
The family can take over their new digs on July 1 and B.C. Housing has given them until July 15 to move, a much welcomed window.
The family also looks forward to moving to a quieter, greener part of the Greater Victoria.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” said Miller.