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'It's not safe here': Residents of Vancouver SRO speak out about deplorable living conditions (PHOTOS)

A tenant said there's no lock on the door to the bathroom she shares with 20 people: "It's scary to take a shower."

Residents of a single-room-occupancy building in downtown Vancouver say living conditions haven't improved since the city inspected the property after the Christmas holiday despite vocal public outcry. 

Vancouver Is Awesome first interviewed David Brabner, a tenant at the Regal Hotel, back in December after he lost heat on Christmas Eve. While the heat was on by Boxing Day, he said he'd never felt warm in his room because of a gaping hole in his window. 

In an interview on Thursday (Jan. 20), nearly a month after the city conducted a health inspection, the 36-year-old said his window is still broken and cold air blows into his room. Further, he says he's had a cockroach infestation since he moved in in the summer of 2021. 

"It's disgusting," he says, adding that he has been actively trying to get pest control to deal with the issue.

In addition to bugs, Brabner said there are mice in his room. The building is also generally unsafe, he noted.

"It's not safe here; I don't feel safe. I sleep with weapons and I barricade my door, too."

Owned by the notorious Sahota family, the Regal is located at 1046 Granville Street and came under scrutiny in 2021 for being in "unsafe condition." A report that went before city council stated that it represented “an ongoing risk to the life safety of the residents of the building.”

Another tenant, who prefers to remain anonymous because she fears getting evicted, told V.I.A. in a phone interview that she also feels the building is unsafe. 

"They put in an [expensive] bathroom in here when they could have fixed the windows," she said. 

When asked why she feels unsafe in the building, the tenant said there's no security and anyone can come in. Further, she says there's no lock on door to the bathroom she shares with roughly 20 other renters on her floor. As a result, she has to keep the door shut with her foot. 

"I'm nervous to take a shower in these bathrooms," she explained. "It's scary to take a shower."

While both tenants have spotted rats in the common areas, the woman said she was disgusted to see one of the rodents in her own room. "He was so big he couldn't even climb...he fell...he was that fat." She added that there are also mouldy areas and holes in her walls, which is how pests come in. 

Vancouver responds 

The City of Vancouver tells V.I.A. in an emailed statement that the city's top priority is maintaining the safety of the tenants at the Regal Hotel and that it has "made many efforts to hold the owners accountable for maintaining the building to a livable standard."

The city added that it is responsible for holding the landlord accountable and that it is continuing to do that on a regular basis. 

Over the past two years, the city issued several orders seeking to have the property owner fix outstanding safety issues, and repeatedly contacted the owner, contractors and consultants about the slow pace of work. The City then filed an injunction on October 14, 2021, against the owners of the Regal Hotel to address the outstanding safety issues.

To date, the city says a response from the property owner has not been filed with the Court. "Counsel for the city is actively engaged with the defendant’s lawyer to press for a speedy resolution to outstanding issues identified in the City’s claim."

V.I.A. attempted to reach members of the Sahota family on Friday but they did not respond.