Elizabeth Klassen needed an affordable apartment in Hope. The Ryder gave her more than she expected

I was commuting back and forth from South Surrey to Hope to take care of my dad. His health had started to decline and I was getting phone calls from the grocery store or from the bank. Like he went into the store and ate a chicken. I work with kids, and I’m getting these phone calls at work.

At first it was just day trips, and then it was weekends. I was just becoming completely unhappy because all I had was just work and my dad. And then you lose a little patience and ‘Oh Dad you can do this yourself.’ But no he can’t. Dementia is really a sad thing. So it really came to, ‘yeah I’ve got to move to Hope.’ 

For two years I looked for a place to rent and the cheapest I could find was about $900 and that was above and beyond what I could do. Anything else just wasn’t livable. I was staying with my dad while this building was being completed and that wasn’t going to go well for very much longer.

Finally having my own cute little apartment which I love has actually improved the quality of my relationship with my dad. The trickle effect is that now he can spend the rest of his days in his own home where he wants to be with his dog. 

I love having the sense of community. There’s internet in the amenities room, and the ability to go in there and socialize with people in the building, it gives you a sense of belonging. Just meeting people and hearing their stories. Everybody was in the same boat — people were actually living in their cars in Hope.

What I have now is a big sense of relief. It doesn’t feel temporary. This place has a heartbeat. There is opportunity here. I’d love to start a forest school in Hope, I think it’s the perfect place for it. I originally thought I’m only going to be here for two years. I have changed my thinking into, ‘I’m home now.’

That’s Molly, a rescue dog who lives with another tenant at The Ryder.

Elizabeth Klassen spoke to writer-in-residence Marcie Good in May 2020. This interview has been edited and condensed.