After what it calls “decades of underinvestment and mismanagement” by the owners of the Balmoral and Regent Hotels, the City of Vancouver said, “the outstanding bylaw violations have been addressed through the legal process.”
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In a letter shared with Daily Hive, the city said part of this legal process included negotiations between the City Prosecutor and Sahota family, in which a solution was reached on outstanding bylaw violations that had been referred to prosecution.
The resolution comes after a legal process which began in 2017, when the city filed a total of 60 charges against the Sahota family, following the evacuation and relocation of the residents of the Balmoral’s residents.
The notorious Downtown Eastside Single Room Occupancy (SRO) facility is controlled by members of the Sahota family, and the city alleges the family violated the city’s Standards of Maintenance By-law.
These infractions, the city said, were identified during proactive inspections of the building.
The breaches included failure to maintain walls, ceilings, and floors to an adequate standard, as well as lack of maintenance to plumbed facilities such as baths and toilets.
A summons was issued to Balmoral Hotel Ltd. to appear in Court to answer to the charges.
Then, in November of last year, the Sahotas plead guilty to the majority of charges and agreed to pay a total fine of $150,000, along with making a charitable donation in the amount of $20,000 to Union Gospel Mission and $5,000 to EMBERS Eastside Works.
The Court approved this resolution and imposed the requested fines.
And although the solution wasn’t publicly announced, it first came to light via a report in the Globe and Mail.
In its letter – also sent to the Globe and Mail – the city said its available legal avenues were limited and “we recognize that the value of the resolution does not reflect the historic harm done to the Downtown Eastside community through the unsafe conditions of these two buildings.”
The city also noted that this resolution is independent of the expropriation process for the Balmoral and Regent Hotels.
“That process is ongoing and the Sahotas have withdrawn their request for an inquiry,” the city said.
Balmoral’s history of problems
The Balmoral Hotel is located at 159 Hastings Street. City officials claim that its owners – the Sahotas – have a poor track record with the Vancouver Police Department, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, and staff from the city’s Buildings and Property Use team.
The family also owns several other low-income hotels located in the Downtown Eastside, including the Astoria and the Cobalt.
The Balmoral has had a history of upkeep and structural problems. In Fall 2016, the hotel topped the city’s list of the most at-risk buildings in Vancouver.
Currently, the building is undergoing a complete review by a contractor hired by the owners to assess the work that is needed to rehabilitate the property.
After an inspection to assess the shoring and stabilization of the Balmoral Hotel in July of 2017, it was announced that the city’s Chief Building Official deemed the building to be stabilized to the city’s satisfaction.