Rooms turned into offices at hotel above old Vic’s Restaurant

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For some time, CCAP and the Carnegie Centre Community Association have been concerned about the use of Jay Rooms at 172 E Cordova Street.

According to the City of Vancouver 2007 Survey of Low-Income Housing in the DTES, the Jay Rooms has 12 closed residential hotel rooms.

Since March of 2008, people in our community have noticed activity in these rooms, increasing as time went on, including use in evenings.

Our suspicions were finally confirmed when the owners of the property (Vince Trust) found a glitch in their plans to rent out the rooms as offices to a community group needing office space.  They needed some community support.

So the manager of Vince Trust approached CCAP and told us they may redevelop virtually the whole block with condos.  They said they would meet with the Province and/or use density bonusing (extra height sometimes trades for affordable housing) to pay for some social or affordable housing on the site in the future.  In the meantime, they asked CCAP to give them some slack on the offices.

Regardless, CCAP opposes the use of offices.  Until there is a solid plan and tools to guarantee redevelopment proposals stay within the goal of a predominantly low-income neighbourhood, CCAP is not interested.

The city does not seem to be enforcing the SRA bylaw at the Jay Rooms.  CCAP asked the city to enforce it to maintain the rooms in the stock of desperately needed affordable housing.  According to the Single Room Accommodation (SRA) Bylaw, owners cannot change the use of residential hotel rooms (SROs) unless they get a development or conversion permit from City Hall.  City Council can, but doesn’t have to, charge the owner up to $15,000 per room that is converted.  This SRA bylaw was supposed to protect hotel rooms in the DTES for low income residents.  Lets stick to enforcing the bylaw until we have some certainty.