The Balmoral Hotel on East Hastings Street in Vancouver was operating as a single-room occupancy building before it was shut down by the City of Vancouver chief building officer for being deemed unsafe. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Owners of hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside fight $1 expropriation in court

Vancouver City Council voted to expropriate the properties for $1 each in November

The owners of two derelict hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have launched a legal challenge against the city’s plan to expropriate the buildings for $1.

The Balmoral and Regent hotels, which have been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city’s most vulnerable residents before the city ordered them shut down over safety concerns.

Council voted to expropriate the properties for $1 each last month, more than a year after failing to compel the owners to bring the decaying buildings up to code.

In a petition for judicial review filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Balmoral Hotel Ltd. and Triville Enterprises, allege the terms of the expropriation were “patently unreasonable, or made in bad faith,” and the city breached its duty to procedural fairness.

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

The documents say the owners have pleaded guilty to failing to maintain the buildings but allege they have suffered “irreparable harm” because they did not have the opportunity to sell them for the multimillion-dollar market value.

The city says in a statement that it’s aware of the petition and will file a legal response “in due course.”

The owners allege in the court documents that they received 10 open-market offers for purchase, ranging from $7 million to $12.5 million per hotel, since the buildings were shut down.

The petition says the city made two offers to purchase the buildings, first at $6 million and then at $4 million, before the expropriation vote was cast.

But it says council’s vote to spend $1 each on the expropriations “was grounded upon the incorrect assumption that the city had tried to negotiate in good faith with the petitioners and that the petitioners had refused to engage in good faith negotiations with the city.”

The hotels were separately ordered shut down in 2017 and 2018 by the chief building officer after they were deemed unsafe.

When the notice of expropriation was filed in July 2018, deputy city manager Paul Mochrie said it was the first time the city had pursued expropriation with the purpose of providing public housing.

READ MORE: 60 charges filed against Vancouver hotel owner

Atira Women’s Resource Society, a local non-profit group, took over management of the Regent Hotel in 2018 before its closure. CEO Janice Abbott said at the time that she found mould in the rooms, ceilings that collapsed under the weight of water ingress and people living on urine-soaked mattresses.

The owners’ petition identifies the shareholders and principals of the companies that own the hotels as siblings Parkash Kaur Sahota, 89, and Pal Singh Sahota, 80.

In November 2018, it says they pleaded guilty to violating maintenance law for their buildings.

But it says the decision to expropriate the hotels was “unreasonable.”

“If the expropriation approval decision is allowed to stand, the petitioners will suffer irreparable harm that cannot be compensated sufficiently within the available compensation scheme,” it says.

“Even if successful in securing $20 million in compensation through the expropriation compensation claim that will follow expropriation, the Expropriation Act only awards interest to a successful claimant at the annual rate that is equal to the prime lending rate of the banker to the government … which is far below standard investment rates of return,” it says.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Vancouver shuts down Downtown Eastside residence due to ‘deplorable negligence’

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

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

Surrey eyes boost to development cost charges

Proposed rates could take effect mid-May

Surrey’s newest task force aims to find ‘innovative’ ways to bring in revenue

McCallum says city’s revenue sources shouldn’t ‘completely rely on the taxpayer all the time’

White Rock BNSF train whistles to be silenced by end of month

Whistle will sound if people or animals are on the track

Year of the Rat celebrated by South Surrey/White Rock business community

Winter weather didn’t dissuade new-year event guests

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

VIDEO: Missing cat reunited with Vancouver Island family after three months

‘It was like one day she was there, the next day she was gone,’ said owner

Most Read

l -->