Hotel loophole could spell trouble during the Olympics

This is a copy of Jean’s speech from a recent city council meeting. At that meeting, council allowed the CN Backpackers to change its designation from a monthly hotel to a daily/weekly hotel without any penalties. Most of her speech is about the Ivanhoe Hotel that is next door and operated by the same management.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the dangers of daily/weekly rentals and their potential for squeezing even more low income SRO residents onto the streets or into the shelters you’ve been creating. You probably know that the SRA bylaw allows hotels to rent 10% of their rooms on a daily/weekly basis. The problem is, we don’t know how many are doing this so we don’t know if hotels are exceeding their 10%.

backpackers sign

I went into the CN Backpackers last month as part of CCAP’s hotel survey. The desk clerk told me he had several people renting monthly but that would stop in the summer. So I guess that’s what this application is about.

The CN Backpackers and the Ivanhoe across the street have a very close relationship. They are in the same pamphlet. We don’t like the CN Backpackers being daily/weekly. If the Ivanhoe goes daily/weekly, that will be even worse. From what we can tell the Ivanhoe has 10 dorms with 4 to 6 people in each. They are supposed to have 94 rooms so 10% would be 9 rooms. But evidently some rooms are bigger than others. The desk clerk told me last month that he was expecting 65 people in on one weekend and that he had single people waiting in the dorms, paying $375 each, for single rooms to be vacant. If you google Vancouver Hostels, you get a website that advertises the Ivanhoe as “across the street from the future Olympic village….”

Can you see bunks on every floor?  The Ivanhoe may be renting more than 10% daily/weekly which would be illegal.

Can you see bunks on every floor? The Ivanhoe may be renting more than 10% daily/weekly which would be illegal.

ivanhoe bunks

We are petrified that hotels will use the 10% rule to rent out rooms during the Olympics and evict longer term tenants. We have seen in the past, with the Columbia Hotel, for example, where hotels simply start renting daily weekly in violation of the bylaw and get away with it.

If you have to exempt the CN Backpackers, then do what you have to do, but: we urge you to amend the SRA bylaw to eliminate the 10% provision for other hotels in the area. If you don’t do that, at least eliminate it starting now until after the Olympics. And staff must be instructed to keep a very careful eye, at least monthly, and weekly by December, we would say, on all hotels to ensure that they are not renting more than 10% of their rooms daily/weekly. The hotels that we think need to be watched carefully include the Astoria, Balmoral, Cobalt, Creekside, Grand Trunk, Ivanhoe and New Columbia which are all renting daily/weekly now. In addition, Danny’s Inn, has a sign outside saying Daily Weekly, $45 a day. And there is a hostel website that lists the Pender Lodge, Shamrock Hotel, Grand Trunk and Ivanhoe.

At CCAP we believe it is urgent that council take action on this 10% rule before the Olympics if you don’t want more homeless people.