Increased City enforcement of standards of maintenance by-law gets results in Downtown Eastside

October 14, 2010 | Safer Communities

New statistics show Vancouver’s increased enforcement of the City's standards of maintenance and safety related by-laws has resulted in improved compliance for many single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings in the Downtown Eastside.

Since April of 2009, as a result of Council direction, City staff have taken action on 28 SRO buildings in the Downtown Eastside that had significant and ongoing by-law violations. The increased enforcement, which includes using the threat of legal injunctions, has resulted in 24 of 28 SRO buildings either fully complying (21) or in the process (three) of complying.

“The City’s work to strengthen our enforcement on building maintenance and safety codes is paying off,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Council’s direction to seek out new tools, including legal injunctions, as a way to gain compliance on Downtown Eastside buildings, is achieving solid improvements.

“The people who live in these buildings are among the most marginalized citizens in our city. Making sure these buildings are maintained to a basic level of safety is crucial to ensuring a continued supply of low-income housing, and preventing people from ending up on the street.”

Violations common for SRO buildings include damaged roofs, pipes, plumbing fixtures, doors and walls, unsafe electrical wiring, and obstructed exits. City staff are preparing to come before council shortly with requests to seek legal injunctions to ensure that four other buildings are brought into compliance, should their owners fail to act on City orders.

“We take these violations very seriously,” said the Mayor. “The overwhelming majority of building operators follow the rules and ensure the proper maintenance of their buildings. However, for those who repeatedly ignore City orders to fix their violations, we have, and will continue to seek legal injunctions to ensure compliance. It’s a simple matter of safety for Vancouver's citizens.”

Of the 28 buildings on which the City has taken a variety of actions, 27 received City orders to comply, and of those, two additionally received legal charges, four were threatened with injunctions, and four will have injunction proceedings coming before council if their owners fail to act on City orders. (These statistics do not reflect upon the approximately 100 other SRO buildings in the Downtown Eastside where compliance was achieved through routine inspections.)

Photo credit: City of Vancouver