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

WildSafe program wraps up quiet season for District of Kent, Harrison

Black bears biggest source of calls in the FVRD

Upper Fraser RCMP joins Twitter

Twitter feed once limited to Chilliwack expands

Week of snow storms finally fades

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

VIDEO: Time’s running out for Montreal Alumni tickets in Hope

Habs will face off against Hope hockey players on Saturday afternoon

Westbound Highway 1 roll-over crash slowing commuters in Abbotsford

Accident occurred just west of Mt. Lehman Road, left lane blocked

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Deer carcass strung up at Surrey fire hall prompts investigation

Investigation underway following complaint a Surrey firefighter hung a deer carcass in a fire hall

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read