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

Hundreds attend celebration of life for Debbie Froese in Langley

A businesswoman, volunteer, and wife of Mayor Jack Froese, she passed away on Jan. 9

VIDEO: Report of gun draws big RCMP response to Langley mall

At least one man was taken into custody and replica handgun was located

Langley politicians look forward to arrival of Uber, Lyft

A regional ridesharing license template is expected by the end of the month

Township council to deliberate Aldergrove Town Centre plans

Janda Group’s redevelopment proposal will be voted on during Monday evening meeting

Family breakfast draws hundreds to Willoughby Elementary

Hakam’s Independent Grocer provided food for hundreds of kids and parents Friday

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

5 things you need to know to start using ridesharing in Metro Vancouver

From how to get started to where drivers can take you, heres all you need to know

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Most Read