The heat is still not completely restored in the Vancouver SRO, where residents have been cold since Christmas – BC

It’s been four days since the power went out and the hot water tanks got cold at a one-room hotel in downtown Vancouver (SRO), but some tenants keep shaking.

As of Tuesday night, the heat had not been restored to all units at The Regal Hotel on Granville Street after it went down on Christmas morning, leaving residents in freezing conditions for several nights.

“The most important thing a person needs is a space and heat. If you do not have heat, then why pay rent?” said frustrated tenant Stephen Walsh in a Tuesday interview, “I pay $ 700 a month.”

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grev. Sarah Kirby-Yung said it “does not seem reasonable” that it would take three days to repair a fuse – the reported cause of the heat loss in the building.

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She was also concerned about conflicting reports that the heat had been turned on again, while tenants said it was not.

“If you’re living in these incredibly cold temperatures right now, these are life-threatening situations if people do not have basic necessities to keep warm,” Kirby-Yung said.

Since Sunday, Environment Canada has warned that lows with wind cooling could drop to below minus 20 in Vancouver.

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Protection of the homeless during the Cold Snap

Protection of the homeless during the Cold Snap

On Tuesday, the city of Vancouver told Global News via email that its “latest information is that heat has been restored to the building.” Some tenants later said that was not the case.

“The City Supervisory Group became aware of the heat issue on December 27 and followed up immediately,” wrote Gail Pickard of the municipality’s corporate communications department.

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“Our understanding is that there was a problem earlier in the holiday that the building management was trying to solve, but the problem had arisen again.”

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The city’s building manager and assistant head of electricity inspections visited The Regal on Tuesday, but in a Wednesday update, the municipality did not confirm that heat had been restored to all units.

“Our staff visited the Regal Hotel yesterday and confirmed that the building was getting warmer as we visited,” wrote Kira Hutchinson.

“We were informed that further work is being done on the heating system this morning and we are following up today to ensure that the work is completed and full heating has been restored.”

Click to play video: 'SRO residents face fourth day without heat'

SRO residents face the fourth day without heat

SRO residents face the fourth day without heat

Regal is owned by a company controlled by the Sahota family, which in 2019 pleaded guilty to a number of violations of bylaws related to the abandoned Regent and Balmoral SROs.

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The owners faced 60 charges related to deplorable living conditions on Balmoral, and in December 2017, the city referred nearly 500 violations related to the regent to prosecutors.

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In September, the city of Vancouver sought an injunction that would force owners to complete repairs to the aging Regal Hotel.

The lawyer, who has represented the Sahota family, could not be reached for comment Tuesday and is on vacation until January 4. Mayor Kennedy Stewart did not respond to a request for comment.

Click to play video: 'Several SRO residents comment on lack of heating'

Several SRO residents comment on the lack of heating

Several SRO residents comment on the lack of heating

Global News has also been told that some are without heat at the Ivanhoe and Dodson hotels.

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“If I get out of bed I freeze, so it’s depressing to have to stay in my room all the time and try to gather myself to stay warm,” said a tenant at Ivanhoe who asked not to be identified by fear of being thrown out.

“They charge me $ 725, and it eats about two-thirds of my disability allowance. For $ 725, I hope they give us warmth.”

Municipal council. Jean Swanson said in an interview that city inspectors are expected to visit Ivanhoe on Wednesday.

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Keith Wiebe of the Anhart Community Housing Society confirmed that upgrades are underway at the Dodson Hotel so renters can have electric baseboard heating in all rooms and the connection will be completed next month.

All tenants, meanwhile, have electric radiator heating serviced by the old electricity system, he wrote in an email.

The city of Vancouver said Tuesday that it is aware of problems with Dodson.

“The city was informed late Christmas Eve that there was a problem with the steam boiler (heat) at Dodson,” Pickard wrote. “The city has provided some advice and support to the building management and has not received an update.”

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Click to play video: 'BC shakes in the middle of a record-breaking cold moment'

BC shakes in the middle of record cold

BC shakes in the middle of record cold

Kirby-Yung said the city does not have many funds when a private SRO operator does not meet the standards – especially none that results in a quick fix.

“The city can issue orders that require operators to repair the building, but the challenge is that this can be a slow process that can take time, and in the meantime, we have individuals suffering in their homes,” she explained.

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Victoria Desroches, a friend of a tenant at The Regal, said the whole situation is awful.

“I just do not see how we can stand by and allow such situations to constantly arise for people who have done nothing but pay their rent and are legal tenants,” she told Global News on Tuesday.

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“It’s a matter of public safety, it’s a matter of tenants’ rights, it’s where the city goes up for enforcement? It’s the property owners – why do not they do what any other property owner is forced to do if their tenant is in danger?

The city of Vancouver says staff monitor SRO compliance through annual inspections and respond to residents’ complaints. The municipality operates more than 1,000 units of non-market housing, including SRO, and clothing and equipment to keep warm is available at its buildings, Pickard wrote.

With files from Rumina Daya and Julia Foy

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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