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Owner of 'infamous' properties running for Victoria council

A person described in the media as a "slumlord" is among the candidates running for Victoria city council.

Robin Kimpton is one of 20 people hoping to fill eight council seats in the capital city. Kimpton's properties have frequently brought the attention of municipal inspectors and the city's media, and he is in an ongoing court battle with the city to recover costs from having his buildings shut.

The Times Colonist reported in 2003, for example, that bylaw officers closed a Kimpton-owned rooming house on Yates Street because of safety concerns (the original link is dead, but Indymedia has it here). The building had structural problems thanks to weight-bearing beams being cut and weight-bearing posts being undermined.

There were open pipes in the house, sewer gas seeping into the building, unpermited electrical work and a renovated attic with no fire escape, the paper reported.

At the time Kimpton complained to the city it didn't need to take such drastic action and argued that he and his staff were giving tenants a month's free rent and moving them to other buildings.

In 2006, Victoria's Monday Magazine reported, bylaw officers closed another Kimpton-owned apartment building on Cook Street for "failure to comply with city ordinances." The paper referred to the housing as being "infamous". (Homeless Nation has kept the link here.)

Kimpton also sold the formerly derelict Cornerstone building at the corner of Fernwood and Gladstone to the community based Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group, which restored the building for businesses and housing. The deal included both money and traded properties.

In 2009 the FNRG took Kimpton to court to settle a dispute over mortgage interest and expenses, and won.

Kimpton did not immediately return calls.

Another council candidate, Ben Isitt, said he wondered whether Kimpton genuinely wants to be on council or if the candidacy is part of his ongoing dispute with the city.

"He's a more complex person" than people think, said Isitt. "I think he's genuinely upset about how things went with the city."

He said he remembers visiting one of the buildings and finding Kimpton, who splits his time between Vancouver and Victoria, doing the drywalling himself. "I've seen with my own eyes he's a hard worker," said Isitt.

It will be tough, however, for Kimpton to win a seat on council, he said, noting his profile is low, except for the boarded-up properties and the dispute with the city.

The blog Victoria Votes has the full list of Victoria candidates posted.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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