In my May 26 blog, I forcefully advocated a cost-effective solution for when the City of Vancouver is faced with a slum landlord providing unsafe accommodations to its tenants. The solution: that the City perform all necessary repairs, then simply charge the owner for this cost by placing a lien on the property at the land title office.
Within days of my blog, the Balmoral Hotel was in the news again. Owned by one of the province’s most notorious slum landlords, the Balmoral has suffered absolutely atrocious conditions for many years. One local reporter, Larry Pynn, was investigating and reporting on the deplorable “third world” conditions there — and city hall’s failure to act — as far back as 1992!
Vision Vancouver, holding a majority on City Council, has simply sat on the sidelines for more than a decade. They took no action. No action, that is, until the situation had become so dire that the building was literally at risk of collapse. Finally, they acted but it was too late to protect the tenants, many of whom had lived in the Balmoral for years. The City obtained an order evicting all of them due to concerns that the building is at risk of collapse.
If only the City had acted years earlier! Tenants have now been dispersed into many different places of accommodation. Neighbourhood networks built up over years have come to an end and, once again, we’re losing many SRO units.
When will Vision Vancouver learn that the time to act is before it is time to evict civil society’s most vulnerable tenants?