On Feb 26, 2019 one Commercial Drive building and two houses were approved for demoviction. During this hearing, the Council learned that after taking possession of the three properties in 2016, the developer had intimidated long term tenants out. All except for one tenant of 19 years who’s a disabled senior on fixed income, eventually left. Their units were rented out to tenants who have now been there for 2-3 years, with one house turned into an airbnb/hostel with 16 tenants living at any time ranging between 3 to 12 months in length of stay.
Once again the tenants were not able to represent themselves, so VTU reps spoke about what we’ve heard from the tenants. Other legal reps and several neighbours also spoke in opposition to the project, about the shady tactics of the landlord and against gentrifying luxury rents in their neighbourhood. They were mostly dismissed by council with reasonings such as “any rentals is better than condos”, “any rentals even if extremely unaffordable will help the housing crisis”, “someone will be able to afford these rents, so we should build them”. Only councillors Swanson and Fry voted against this project.
All three buildings are now slated for demolition, displacing between 20 to 25 tenants of various length stays. The developer is due to receive a hefty tax break of $644,402 for this “public service” and starting rents are $1400 for studio and $1700 for one bedroom.
Read more about this development project and VTU’s opposition to the program here.
A discussion of the rental 100 program inspired by this public hearing can be heard on this podcast.