British Columbia·CBC Investigates

Lion Hotel tenants still without heat despite city deadline

It's looking to be a cold Christmas for the residents of one Vancouver single room occupancy hotel (SRO).

The owner promised heat and other repairs to the building would be done by today.

Gregory Zurek sits on his bed next to his barbecue, his only source of heat in the room. (Tristan LeRudulier/CBC)

It's looking to be a cold Christmas for the residents of one Vancouver singe room occupancy hotel (SRO).

The heat is still not working in parts of the Lion Hotel on Powell Street.

Last month, city inspectors found several deficiencies in the building that houses 74 people. Among the problems, only one of two boilers that serves the building is actually working.

The building's owner was given until today to fix the Lion Hotel's electrical system or face legal action from the city.

Several residents, including 67-year-old Gregory Zurek, have been living in the building with no heat since then.

Zurek currently uses a small barbecue as his only way to keep warm.

"I put the barbecue right beside the bed and its OK," said Zurek. "Last winter was not heat at all ... and nobody say anything." 

Few alternatives

Ludvik Skalicky, a Downtown Eastside activist, says several residents are looking for new places to live.

However, he says there are very few affordable alternatives.

Residents of the Lion Hotel downtown SRO say they have been living without heat or electricity. (Tristan LeRudulier/CBC)

"You've got senior citizens living here!" said Skalicky.

"Just because you've got a roof under your head ... doesn't mean you're warm and safe."

Skalicky says many of the residents have complained about how they need more blankets, and how they can't even use electric heaters because the wiring in the building is so old.

"It's popping out the fuses," he said. "... and management won't pop 'em back. Sometimes it takes a day to flip a switch."

One more month

Abol Abdollahi, the building's owner, says he is doing his best to fix the problems but hired the wrong plumber.

"The plumber didn't know the system," he said. "We're trying to do some of the work ... we are doing all we can,"

Abdol Abdollahi, the building's owner, says he hired the wrong plumber to fix the building's problems. (Tristan LeRudulier/CBC)

Over the phone, Abdollahi's new plumber promised to try and fix the boiler on Boxing Day but said they still need to apply for a permit.

The City of Vancouver has given Abdollahi one more month to fix the heat, or they will do the work and bill him.

With files from Natalie Clancy


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