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City of Vancouver files 60 charges against owners of “disgusting” Downtown Eastside SRO

Balmoral Hotel Evictions
Fri, Jun 2: An update on a building that Vancouver's mayor has described as disgusting. The city has now deemed the Balmoral Hotel so unsafe, that it's ordering an evacuation order because it's at risk of collapsing. Catherine Urquhart has more.

The City of Vancouver has filed 60 charges against the owners of a Downtown Eastside Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel that has been described as “disgusting.”

The city forced nearly 150 tenants of the Balmoral Hotel to evacuate back in June, after an inspection found deplorable conditions and warned the building was at risk of collapse.

LISTEN: CKNW’s Matt Lee and City of Vancouver GM of Buildings and Licensing Kaye Krishna discuss the charges

Now it appears the owners could face consequences for neglecting the property.

“These charges are resulting from the activity that we pursued early this year and the specific inspections in January and April,” said Kaye Krishna, general manager of buildings and licensing for the city.

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The charges relate to infractions under the city’s Standards of Maintenance bylaw. Eighteen of them relate to an inspection from January, while another 42 violations were found in April.

WATCH: Protest block party held outside Balmoral Hotel on the eve of evacuation deadline

Protest block party held outside Balmoral Hotel on the eve of evacuation deadline
Protest block party held outside Balmoral Hotel on the eve of evacuation deadline

Those infractions include a failure to maintain the Balmoral’s walls, ceilings, floors and plumbed facilities such as bathrooms.

But housing advocates say the action is too little too late.

Jean Swanson with the Carnegie Community Action Project said the city needs to start acting on bylaw 23.8, which says “that failure to remedy any default … within 60 days … will result in the work being carried out by the City at the expense of the owner.”

“They’re just asking for a fine, they’re not asking to do the work, they’re not doing the work and billing the landlord, they’re just asking the court to fine the landlord,” she said.

A summons will be issued to the Sahota family, who own the Balmoral, to appear in court to answer to the charges. If found guilty, they could pay fines of $250 to $10,000 for each infraction.

READ MORE: Balmoral Hotel residents forced to move, City of Vancouver cites ‘imminent danger’

Since November alone, the city has referred 150 issues at the Balmoral to prosecution, however Mayor Gregor Robertson admitted last month that legal challenges of the city’s “slumlords” have not always gone well.

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Work to shore up the Balmoral has been ongoing since the building was evacuated, including an order for $1 million in structural repairs to the first floor bar and building envelope, and the requirement the owners hire professional engineers to conduct a full assessment of the building.

READ MORE: SRO residents find alternative housing following displacement at Balmoral Hotel

Earlier this month, the city conducted an inspection on structural work at the building site and deemed the building to have been sufficiently stabilized.

However, the city said a “significant amount of work” will still be necessary to return the building to a livable state.