Regent Hotel residents begin moving out after building declared unsafe

Residents of the Regent Hotel are moving out, five days after they were informed the decrepit building was being shut down by the city.

'Rats, bedbugs, cockroaches — it's good to be out of there," said one resident of the notorious DTES SRO

Residents of the Regent Hotel have started moving out after the city declared the building unsafe last week. (Angela Sterritt/CBC)

Residents of the Regent Hotel are moving out, five days after they were informed the decrepit building was being shut down by the city.

Ross Duncan, one of 45 residents of the Downtown Eastside SRO, started moving his things to a different hotel over the weekend. He expects to spend a month there before moving into a permanent home. 

"It's good to be out of there. Change is good. They can have it," said Duncan. "Yeah, it was notorious. It was known globally, the Regent — rats, bedbugs, cockroaches."

Regent Hotel resident Ross Duncan started moving his things on the weekend. (CBC)

Levina Holland has visited with friends at the Regent for over 35 years. She says the closure is sad. 

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "Everybody is being moved."

But Downtown Eastside resident  Michael Dumond says it's for the better, as long as other housing options become available.

"I wouldn't want to live here. Nobody should," he said. "It's time to upgrade, but if you shut down a place, open a new one."

Social service agencies are working to find new homes for residents as quickly as possible. 

The Regent was declared unsafe by the City of Vancouver on June 20 and all residents asked to leave by June 28.

The Regent Hotel is owned by the Sahota family who also own the Balmoral Hotel which was ordered evacuated last year over fear of collapse. (CBC)

The shocking conditions at the Regent have been well documented, and the building had been ticketed for over 1,000 bylaw violations, 445 of which have been referred to prosecution.

Along with the Balmoral Hotel which was evacuated over fear of collapse last year, the Regent is the second rundown Sahota-owned SRO to be shut down by the city. 

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city and province will work to purchase both hotels from the Sahotas due to ongoing inaction in responding to safety violations.

With files from Angela Sterritt

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