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

Neurologist and medical educator Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava, seen here speaking at the 2020 Breakfast to Remember in Victoria, will delve into the latest in dementia research during an interactive research event exclusively for attendees of this year’s virtual Breakfast. Access to the March 10 research event is included with the purchase of a Breakfast to Remember ticket. (Kevin Light Photography)
Blast off with Chris Hadfield at Alzheimer Society’s Breakfast to Remember in March

The Society hopes people in all corners of the province will make the most of this opportunity

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Duncan initiates pilot project to deal with graffiti

Project based on a successful one in Port Alberni

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

Police, paramedics responded to a report of an unresponsive person early Wednesday

Dozens of reports of sexualized violence against a former employee of downtown Victoria restaurant Chuck’s Burger Bar were posted online in January. A police investigation is ongoing. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Chuck’s Burger Bar in Victoria closes doors after sexual assault allegations

Victoria police investigating reports of sexual misconduct, assault by former restaurant employee

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read