The City of Vancouver says it is working with tenants of the Balmoral Hotel to relocate everybody ahead of an eviction deadline of June 12.
“A team of outreach workers, along with BC Housing and Vancouver Coastal Health have been at the hotel this weekend to have conversations with tenants about their individual needs and to provide options for alternate accommodation,” reads a June 5 media release. “The city is committed to finding permanent homes for every single tenant and will continue to help relocate belongings and ensure that any additional supports for medical and other needs is provided.”
The city did consider repairing the Downtown Eastside hotel in a way that would allow tenants to continue living there but that proved impossible, it’s stated there.
“A supplementary opinion obtained from the city's structural engineering consultants confirmed that the building is unsafe to be inhabited,” the release continues. “This report investigated whether the necessary shoring work could be undertaken while the building was occupied; the report confirmed that it would not be feasible. Evacuating and relocating tenants from the Balmoral Hotel was a last resort decision, but it is clear from the professional assessment of the building that the imminent risk is too great for the residents to remain.”
The city’s concerns for the Balmoral are structural. Today’s release states repairs are required “to ensure that the building does not collapse”.
The Balmoral Hotel is located at 159 East Hastings Street, just west of Main Street. An evacuation order for the building was issued on June 2, giving an estimated 150 tenants just 10 days to find a new place to live.
The hotel, a single-room-occupancy (SRO) building—which means it consists of very small rooms and only shared bathrooms—has long been regarded as one of the very worst in Vancouver. It’s owned by the Sahota family, which controls a number of similar buildings in the Downtown Eastside such as the Regent Hotel located just across the street.
Jason Gratl, a lawyer representing Regent tenants in a class-action lawsuit against the Sahotas, has said he is fighting the city’s eviction order for tenants of the Balmoral. Gratl wants the parties involved to find a way to repair the building without forcing tenants out.