B.C. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson takes questions in the B.C. legislature, July 13, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson takes questions in the B.C. legislature, July 13, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

When the B.C. government bought Victoria’s Comfort Inn in May to house people camped out along Pandora Avenue and in a city-authorized tent camp at Topaz Park, a Victoria hair salon operator leasing in the building found out from media reports.

B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal told the B.C. legislature July 13 that the salon operator’s first contact from B.C. Housing about the switch from hotel to shelter was via a construction worker who showed up to board up the windows of her shop, All About Hue Hair Designs.

Most of the customers cancelled their appointments after a fire in early June left 20 suites and the salon with water damage, Johal said, as he and other opposition MLAs called for compensation to people caught up in the rush to dismantle tent camps in the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone described the fate of Paul’s Diner after another Victoria hotel, Paul’s Motor Inn, was taken over for transition housing.

Crime and disorder have made he property unviable for tenant businesses, Stone said, quoting the Paul’s Diner operator: “So far, the only solution that’s been offered for us is writing off $150,000 in renovations, killing 20 good local jobs and giving up on our dream that we we all worked so hard to achieve. If the government doesn’t fix this, it will ruin us.”

Housing Minister Selina Robinson was combative in her responses, accusing the B.C. Liberals of allowing the homeless issue to grow unattended. “We’re cleaning up their mess,” she said, adding that crime declines in the area after an initial period of disorder.

RELATED: Fire at Victoria hotel after 90 campers moved inside

RELATED: City to book more Victoria hotel rooms for campers

In fact the previous government began the acquisition of hotels and motels more than a decade ago, spending hundreds of millions to buy and renovate single-room occupancy hotels in Vancouver’s downtown east side, a long-time magnet for drugs, prostitution and social problems. The program has expanded to motels in other communities.

“We reached out to all of the tenants in all of our purchases and encouraged them to continue operating their businesses,” Robinson said. “We will certainly maintain their leases, and we certainly engaged with them around next steps.”

B.C. Liberal housing critic Joan Isaacs has been pressing Robinson on the effects of emptying Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, one of a long series of protest camps that have been staged around the Lower Mainland in recent years.

Isaacs described a 400 per cent increase in crime reports in the downtown Vancouver neighbourhood of Yaletown after people camping in Oppenheimer Park were moved into hotel spaces.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

With approval of a draft budget the town now moves into the public consultation phase. (File photo)
Town hall proposes five per cent tax increase for 2021

Capital budget worth $2.87 million also put forward

Wineries in the Central Okanagan this year saw a high quality harvest, but a low yield. Pictured is a winery in West Kelowna, in October. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Business district is pictured during a traffic jam in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Morning Start: By 2050, 95 percent of North Jakarta could be submerged

Your morning start for Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

Highway 5 southbound lanes are closed near Exit 286. Pictured are southbound lanes at 7:06 p.m. (DriveBC)
Coquihalla Highway southbound lanes closed due to vehicle incident

Southbound lanes closed between Exit 286: Merritt and the start of Hwy 5

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Central Okanagan Public Schools administration office in Kelowna. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed in 5 more Central Okanagan schools

All people who tested positive for the virus are self isolating at home

Penticton Law Courts
Bail hearing for Penticton man charged with sex assault, forcible confinement

Robert Sauve is facing more than 10 criminal charges

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Revelstoke RCMP warn of scam after two people targeted in one day. (Black Press file photo)
Revelstoke RCMP warn of scammer pulling at heart strings

Two people in Revelstoke targeted in one day by person posing as a loved one

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP investigate suspected arson at Shuswap hunting camp

Suspicious fire took place by Scotch Creek forest service road on Oct. 24

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

St. James Anglican Church, Armstrong, B.C. (Google Maps).
Prayer at North Okanagan council meetings a violation of religious neutrality: study

New study found 23 municipalities held prayer sessions at inaugural meetings in 2018, in violation of a Supreme Court decision

A worker at Kelowna Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. (File)
Kelowna airport worker tests positive for COVID-19

Individual, who works as a screener, was asked to self-isolate, at which time they tested positive

Most Read