Council approves expropriation of the Balmoral and Regent Hotels
Historic move will create new low-income homes in the Downtown Eastside
Safe, secure homes are desperately needed in our city and today’s decision recognizes the impact these buildings had on the Downtown Eastside community.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart
Today, Vancouver City Council voted to approve the expropriation of the Balmoral and Regent Hotels in the Downtown Eastside.
This extraordinary measure is being taken to bring the buildings into public ownership and create new low-income housing.
“Today’s historic vote to expropriate the Balmoral and Regent Hotels is a clear message that we are not afraid to use every tool at our disposal to create new affordable homes,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “The decision to bring the buildings into public ownership was not taken lightly. Safe, secure homes are desperately needed in our city and today’s decision recognizes the impact these buildings had on the Downtown Eastside community.”
Due to decades of underinvestment in the buildings which resulted in structural and life-safety concerns, both buildings were closed and more than 300 of the city’s lowest income residents relocated to safer housing, in partnership with BC Housing.
Staff are in active discussions with the Provincial government, and will continue to seek partnerships with all levels of government for the renovation and/or redevelopment, as well as operations, of the two buildings. The City’s intention is to engage with partners and the community in discussions related to the future of the two buildings.
This decision also follows the City’s unsuccessful attempts to negotiate an outright purchase of the properties with the owners. The City’s previous offers were guided by assessed land value.
Council directed staff to compensate the building owners $1 per building, and $1,000 to the owner of the Regent Pub for the pub lease. The $1 valuations are the result of independent appraisals obtained by the City and take into account the significant costs needed to renovate the buildings. Council also approved $350,000 for each building for security systems, additional hardware and on-site and mobile patrols to ensure the buildings are secured against re-entry.
The Downtown Eastside plan calls for increased affordable housing options, including prioritizing the delivery of shelter rate homes. Since the start of 2019, more than 230 shelter rate units have opened or are currently under construction in the Downtown Eastside, with another 155 shelter rates units approved for development in the area. This includes temporary modular housing open in the neighbourhood.