Vancouver shuts down decrepit Regent Hotel, with residents to move into nearby property

Regent Hotel residents begin moving out after building declared unsafe

The City of Vancouver has ordered a Downtown Eastside SRO to close, with the residents moving into a nearby property purchased by the B.C. government. 

The Regent Hotel at 160 East Hastings St. was declared unsafe by the city on Wednesday, with all occupants ordered to leave by June 28, according to a news release by the provincial government.

In the same release, the province said it had purchased two buildings on Main Street called the Jubilee Rooms, approximately two blocks away, for $12.5 million.

Around 80 residents of the Regent will move into the buildings — which had been renovated prior to the government purchasing them — at shelter rates of $375 per month or lower.  

"After many years of deplorable negligence by the owners of the Regent Hotel, the city and province must intervene for the safety and wellbeing of tenants," said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement. 

More than 1,000 bylaw violations

The Regent had been the subject of more than 1,000 bylaw violations, of which 445 have been referred to prosecution.

In April, the building's bar was closed due to myriad health and safety issues, including blocked fire exits and fire alarms muffled by bags.  

"Life safety is at risk," said Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Jonathan Gormick at the time.

The building is owned by the Sahota family, known for owning various problem buildings in the city, including the Balmoral Hotel, which the city ordered evacuated last year over fears of a collapse. 

City aiming to buy Regent, Balmoral

The Regent had room for approximately 150 occupants, but 50 of them had already moved out in recent months, according to the government.

It's unknown what will happen to people who stayed at the Regent but won't get into the Jubilee Rooms, but the province says they will work with the City of Vancouver, B.C. Housing and other groups to "provide supplemental support to help tenants move to better housing."

In addition, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city would work to purchase both the Regent and Balmoral hotels from the Sahotas, due to chronic delays in responding to safety violations.