For immediate release
July 30, 2018
“When tenants and a community organize, politicians have to respond.” That’s what COPE city council candidate Jean Swanson said today after learning that the City of Vancouver will start the process to expropriate the Balmoral and Regent Hotels, owned by notorious slumlords, the Sahota family.
Over the years, the city did not enforce its own Standards of Maintenance bylaw, allowing the two hotels to deteriorate to unliveable standards. The the Balmoral (173 rooms) was closed last year and the Regent (150 rooms) closed this year. “Had city’s bylaw been used to make sure the hotels were repaired by city workers, with costs billed to the owner, the closures would not have been necessary,” said Swanson.
“Expropriation is the second best step the city could take. Expropriation is also a vindication of the work of Jack Gates, a former Regent tenant, who faced three evictions and numerous threats for sticking up for tenant rights, and of the SRO Collaborative that supported him,” said Swanson. “I hope this sends a message to all Vancouver landlords that they can’t ignore the health and safety of their tenants. The city should start to expropriate more properties to show that neglect of basic standards won’t be tolerated.”
Whether the two hotels are renovated or demolished and rebuilt, there is a danger that many of the new units may not be affordable for low income Downtown Eastside residents who can only afford about $375 a month for rent.
“If the city tries to turn these two properties into social mix buildings like Woodwards or the new building at Gore and Hastings, the low-income community will have lost. So the battle for housing people who are homeless and other DTES residents continues,” said Swanson.