British Columbia

Non-profit CEO describes 'deplorable' conditions inside notorious Regent Hotel

The CEO of the non-profit that has taken over management of the troubled Regent Hotel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside says the conditions inside the building are deplorable, with residents sleeping on urine-soaked mattresses.

'He was living in a small room on a urine-soaked mattress. There was mould everywhere'

The City of Vancouver is working to buy the Regent Hotel. The residents have all been ordered to vacate the SRO building, due to concerns over safety. (CBC)

As residents of Vancouver's notorious Regent Hotel move out of the building, the CEO of the non-profit organization tasked with managing it is describing the shocking conditions inside.

Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira, took over building management three months ago after about year and a half of meetings with the Regent's owners, the Sahota family.

The City of Vancouver declared the single room occupancy (SRO) hotel unsafe on Wednesday, with about 45 residents ordered out by June 28.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city plans to buy the Regent, along with another Sahota-owned SRO, the Balmoral Hotel.

"The decision to shut the hotel down was the right decision. It is in deplorable condition," Abbott said on Friday.

"I've been in the hotel a number of times. Walking down the hallways, you're walking over bodies. People were everywhere, sleeping in the hallways, sleeping in the stairwells."

Abbott said some of the people who slept in various parts of the building had rented out their rooms or been forced out. She said it was a huge challenge at the beginning to determine who belonged in the building.

There has been a "profound" problem with violence against the women in the building, Abbott said, and described one drug dealer who took over two rooms who "had kids between the ages of 13 and 17 visiting him regularly."

She said two elderly residents were found sleeping on urine-soaked mattresses.

"We discovered a 92-year-old man — or 96, I think — after his ceiling collapsed," said Abbott. "There was mould everywhere — black mould — rats, holes in his walls that went into the room next door. So he had no security — extremely vulnerable," she said.

"There was another older man, about 77, who was literally living in a sea of his own feces, and probably had been for 10 years or more."

Abbott said, initially, Atira was working with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to address the issues involving minors, as well as with police to make it more difficult for criminals to carry on with their activity in the Regent.

With files from The Early Edition

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