Vancouver expropriates two derelict hotels on the Downtown Eastside for $1 each

Lawyer Evan Cooke said his clients had received at least 10 offers for the properties

Vancouver expropriates two derelict hotels on the Downtown Eastside for $1 each

City council has voted to seize control of two derelict hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside after a lawyer for the property owners warned the municipality it is exposing itself to considerable risk of litigation by expropriating them for $1 each.

Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to expropriate the Balmoral and Regent hotels, which Mayor Kennedy Stewart described as a landmark decision.

“Today’s historic vote to expropriate the Balmoral and Regent hotels is a clear message that we are not afraid to use every tool at our disposal to create new affordable homes,” he said in a statement.

“The decision to bring the buildings into public ownership was not taken lightly. Safe, secure homes are desperately needed in our city and today’s decision recognizes the impact these buildings had on the Downtown Eastside community.”

Lawyer Evan Cooke said his clients had received at least 10 offers for the properties, with one in the range of $20 million if the city withdrew its expropriation notice.

The city filed a notice of expropriation for the buildings about 15 months ago after it wasn’t able to negotiate their purchase.

An official said then that it was the first time the municipality had pursued expropriation to provide public housing.

Cooke asked the city to abandon the expropriation and negotiate with the owners on the basis of actual evidence on the market value for the two hotels.

“The owners have communicated over and over again for more than six months that they are willing to convey title of these properties to the City of Vancouver,” Cooke said.

“They have only asked that they be treated fairly in the process and paid market value.”

Cooke also suggested the city allow the owners to negotiate with outside parties.

“(The owners are) not trying to hold on to these properties but it’s a bit rich, I think, for the city to block an open-market sale of these properties when there’s so much interest.”

A staff report also recommended that the city spend $350,000 on each of the buildings to make them secure, which would include installing security systems and conducting regular patrols.

The Balmoral and Regent hotels are known as single-room occupancy buildings, or SROs. They sit opposite each other on East Hastings Street.

It’s a model of housing that sprang up in Vancouver as transient accommodation for loggers and fishermen many years ago, but has since become a source of low-income housing.

More than 300 of the city’s lowest-income tenants were relocated when the hotels were separately ordered shut down in 2017 and 2018 by the chief building officer after they were deemed to be unsafe.

Last year, the city said it also wants to replace 50 per cent of the remaining SROs by 2028, totalling about 2,000 rooms, with new social housing.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Okanagan high school girls volleyball players Georgia MacLean of Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary (from left), Olivia Pederson of Vernon Christian School, Kassidy Schaper-Kotter of Vernon Secondary and Makenna Lane from W.L. Seaton Secondary have signed to play college volleyball with Abbotsford’s Columbia Bible College. (File photos)
Fraser Valley college inks quartet of Okanagan recruits

Columbia Bible College Bearcats in Abbotsford sign four players to women’s volleyball squad

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School after a report of a bomb threat at Walnut Grove Secondary School on March 3, 2021. The school was safely evacuated. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Bomb threat forces evacuation of Langley high school

Police asked the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

Most Read