Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Ladner rejects plan to house homeless in empty hotels

Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Peter Ladner rejected a proposal to house the Downtown Eastside’s homeless in the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood’s hundreds of empty residential hotel rooms.

“We don’t have those rooms. They’re not my rooms. They’re somebody else’s rooms. And you can not force somebody to lease a room to someone they don’t want to lease to,” Ladner told The Tyee this afternoon.

Ladner’s rejection of the fill-the-empty-rooms plan may be the sharpest distinction yet between his campaign and that of Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson, who embraced the plan proposed yesterday by the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP).

Ladner did not return The Tyee’s email and phone calls yesterday, but did tell The Province: "I don't know the difference between those spaces and spaces in your basement suite or somebody's extra bedroom... We can't just go up and knock on the door and say, 'We think you should take a homeless person.'"

The Tyee caught up with Ladner at the conclusion of a Davie Street press conference at which he and fellow NPA candidates called for police to investigate whether last weekend’s attack against a gay man was a hate crime. When pressed for his reaction to the CCAP proposal, Ladner elaborated:

“I don’t know the stories of those different building. Some of them are not really habitable.... By all means, somebody should go to those landlords and see if those rooms could be opened, but I’m presuming there’s a good reason they’re not open.

“We have a homeless action plan. We know what we have to do. One of the things is to provide stable, sustainable, long-term housing, in many cases, supportive housing. And we’re working with the province to do that. We’ve got 3,800 units either under conversion, construction or development. There has been some increase in shelter hours and capacity.

“And I think we should stay on our plan. Because if we get dragged off into an emergency shelter idea... that’s time, that’s resources, that’s money that’s not spent on a permanent solution.

The Tyee pointed out that it will be years before the majority of the 3,800 units promised by the province are built, and asked again whether Ladner would support a plan by which the city leased empty residential hotels on a short-term basis – such as over the winter. Ladner replied:

“The city should lease these buildings? The city can’t be expected to finance all of this. Where is the province on this?

“What about the rest of the region? Why is it always the citizens of Vancouver who have to take this on, when we’re doing so much more than the rest of the region already.

“Where are the suites in Burnaby? Where are the shelters in Surrey? Where are the shelters in Maple Ridge?

COPE council candidate Ellen Woodsworth and Vision mayoral candidate Robertson both expressed support for the CCAP proposal, which was really little more than a call for civic officials to twist the arms of a few known real estate speculators until they agree to re-open about a dozen recently shuttered residential hotels for the winter.

The Vision campaign today issued a follow-up statement attacking Ladner’s comment in The Province.

“Many of these hotel rooms are empty because the owners refuse to maintain them... The city has the power, under the standards of maintenance by-law, to go in, fix them up, and charge the costs to the owner,” Robertson said in the release.

“How can he say there is no difference between a run-down SRO hotel room and somebody’s extra bedroom?" Robertson added. "Does he really believe this?”

The two men are scheduled to face off in their first public debate tonight at the Vancouver Public Library downtown. Doors at 7:15 p.m., and the first 300 people will be seated.

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Hook.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus