Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

THE City of Vancouver announced on Wednesday that as of 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, all occupants of Downtown Eastside’s Balmoral Hotel had been safely evacuated. The building has been secured and is now considered an active construction zone.

The City’s Chief Building Official has ordered the owners to install temporary shoring inside the building to mitigate the serious structural deficiencies that necessitated the evacuation. That order establishes a deadline of July 14 for that work and City inspectors will be monitoring compliance.

The City of Vancouver and BC Housing secured new homes for over 150 residents of the Balmoral Hotel. This includes securing additional housing for 10 women who were living at the Balmoral who did not have tenancy agreements. Finding safe, alternative housing for women living at the Balmoral Hotel was a priority for the City and BC Housing. BC Housing will continue to support the non-profits who are working with former Balmoral tenants, to ensure their housing placements are sustainable long term, the City said.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson had on June 1 said in a statement: The living conditions in the Balmoral Hotel, a single-room occupancy hotel owned by the Sahota family, are disgusting – no resident of Vancouver should have to live in housing like that. The repeated building and safety violations are putting some of our most vulnerable residents at risk and are a massive strain on City resources.

“Since November, the City has referred more than 150 issues at the Balmoral to prosecution. However, we’ve seen in the past that these prosecutions don’t always get landlords to change their behaviour. We have also required them to make over a $1M in structural repairs to the first floor bar and building envelope and to hire professional engineers to conduct a full assessment of the building. Our staff are looking at every possible legal and regulatory tool we have available to force the Sahota family to improve the Balmoral and hold them accountable for ignoring City by-laws.”