Former residents of burned Gastown hotel moving to nearby building

·2 min read
Fire crews are pictured after a fire destroyed the Winters Hotel in Vancouver on April 12, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Fire crews are pictured after a fire destroyed the Winters Hotel in Vancouver on April 12, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Those forced from their homes last week after a serious fire destroyed a historic building in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood will be able to move into a nearby space as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

The former Columbia Hotel, about two blocks from the destroyed building, has been undergoing maintenance this weekend as workers prepare to open the doors to the new residents, said Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women's Resource Society.

"I think folks are still tired and just sort of coming to kind of process through the reality of all of this," said Abbott. "Folks are ready to move out of the gym-like setting that they've been in for the last week and will be really happy to have private rooms again."

Atira manages the former Columbia Hotel, which has been renamed Tawow.

Last Monday a fire tore through the Winters Hotel in Gastown, a single-room occupancy (SRO) housing space, leaving more than 70 people homeless.

Another 73 people living in the nearby Gastown Hotel, another SRO, were also forced out because the building was flooded by noxious smoke.

Many have been living in temporary shelters, awaiting word on a new place to live.

Abbott said there are about 69 residential units in Tawow.

Shawn Foss/CBC
Shawn Foss/CBC

She said "a handful" of residents have already moved into other permanent housing settings, and once Tawow is open they will be able to house the rest, with a few rooms leftover.

Abbott said rental costs will be calculated based on income and maximum shelter allowance, just as it was for Winters.

"Things will be pretty much the same as they were, just in a new building."

Tenants from the Gastown Hotel are also still displaced, and are awaiting the demolition of the Winters, which Abbott says is slated for April 22. Gastown Hotel residents may be able to return to their homes pending an inspection, according to Abbott.

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