Residents of a vermin-infested hotel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say their landlord is trying to evict them to make room for Olympic business.
On Aug. 24, management sent a letter to residents asking them to agree to move out of the 28-room Golden Crown Hotel by the end of September.
Paulina Walton said she was told in person the next day.
"He says, 'You guys are evicted.' I said, 'For what?' He goes, 'Everyone's evicted in the building. We're shutting down the doors,'" she said Friday.
At the time, Walton refused.
"I said, 'There's no way. I can't do that. There's no place for us to go. We're going to be on the streets. No!'
"I'm on disability too, and I can't be on the street," she said.
The hotel's owner was unavailable for comment, but the letter said the eviction was necessary to address health concerns associated with the pests. It also promised that once the repairs were done, tenants would be allowed to move back in without a rent increase.
Still, homeless advocates such as Kim Kerr, executive director of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, don't believe it.
"We don't want these people to sign anything that even resembles an early end of tenancy. It's BS. They don't have to sign it, and they have nowhere to go," he said.
The letter from Golden Crown says the city ordered the work to be done, but Vancouver Coun. Ellen Woodworth spoke in support of the tenants at a news conference with Kerr.
"Tenants need to be given adequate warning. They need to be placed somewhere else so that their tenancy is not disturbed. They're not joining the thousands of other people who are homeless in the streets," Woodworth said.
Hotel was under scrutiny in 2007
In February 2007, the Carnegie Community Action Project claimed the Golden Crown Hotel was the site of the first Olympic Games-related evictions.
Housing advocates said the owner had issued eviction notices to all the tenants, had planned to renovate the rooms and rent them for $1,000 a month to construction workers from the Olympics and the neighbouring Woodwards building.
Vancouver's deputy chief licence inspector Barb Windsor said at the time that no renovation permits had been issued.
Permits are not required for cosmetic repairs like new carpets or painting, and tenants cannot be evicted for that kind of work.