The family that owns a notorious pair of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has pleaded guilty to a slew of bylaw violations.
The pleas came on Nov. 26 last year, but were not publicized by the city, and were first reported by the Globe and Mail.
The city would not confirm how many bylaw charges related to the Balmoral and Regent hotels the Sahota family pleaded guilty to, saying only that it was the “majority of charges.”
The family was facing 60 charges related to deplorable living conditions at the Balmoral, and in December 2017 the city referred nearly 500 violations related to the Regent to prosecutors.
As punishment, the Sahotas have agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and make a $20,000 donation to the Union Gospel Mission and a $5,000 donation to EMBERS Eastside Works.
“The legal avenues that were available to the City prosecutor were limited and we recognize that the value of the resolution does not reflect the historic harm done to the Downtown Eastside community through the unsafe conditions of these two buildings,” said a city spokesperson in an email.
Under the city’s Standards of Maintenance bylaw, each charge could have come with a maximum fine of $10,000, a city official previously confirmed to Global News.
The city said the resolution is separate from another effort by the city to expropriate the two properties, announced last summer.
The city previously offered to buy the properties, but was turned down by the Sahotas. However it says the family has also withdrawn a request for an inquiry into expropriation, which could slow down the process of the city taking control of the buildings.
The saga of the two buildings, which housed about 300 people, has been ongoing for years, with residents complaining about broken elevators, mould, rats and bugs among other issues.
In June 2017 the city declared the Balmoral structurally unsafe, and ordered residents out. The following year, it did the same with the Regent.
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