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‘We want to be heard’: Portland Hotel residents, advocates hold protest in Vancouver

A group of residents, advocates and union representatives gathered Wednesday outside the PHS Community Services Society board members’ office for a protest

Around a dozen people were seen outside the West Georgia Street office building Wednesday afternoon, demanding “recognition, dignity and compensation” related to their months-long elevator outage at their supportive housing facility, the Portland Hotel.

“We want to be recognized, and we want to be (listened to),” Mark Tobiasson, a Portland Hotel resident.

Tobiasson said residents at a different single-room occupancy, that dealt with a similar elevator issue, were offered compensation of $30 a day — which is something Portland Hotel residents are looking for.

“Now, that altogether is not outrageous — we want our demands to be heard,” he said.

“I think if you look at the residency tenancy act, there is a stipulation in there for compensation and (PHS) seems to be withholding that from us. The people who are partially handicapped have had to use the stairs for months, now they are more handicapped.”

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The facility’s elevator was fixed on Feb. 11 after being out of service for five months.

Read more:

Elevator at Vancouver social housing building fixed months ahead of timeline

Previously, B.C. Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon pointed to “supply chain issues” as the culprit as to why it was taking so long to get fixed and PHS’ director of housing said the elevator was fixed after a “broken wire” had been replaced in February.

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On Wednesday, the housing director is now saying it was indeed supply chain issues for elevator parts.

“I was later informed, by the consulting company that BC Housing hired, that it was in fact it was for parts that we were waiting for,” said Tanya Fader.

“One of the parts came early, and should have been arriving in late March. When they did the install in the replacement parts, they made a mistake in the programing, so at first it wouldn’t run. They fixed the programming and the elevator has been able to run.”

B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon provided some comments in Victoria on Wednesday.

“We know it was a frustrating situation for those that were impacted. BC Housing worked very hard to ensure those that had mobility issues had alternative options so they did not have to stay at the site,” he said.

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“We have the elevator now running and that’s great for everyone.”

Read more:

‘We know it can be done’: Tenants protest after Vancouver supportive housing elevator broken for months

When Global News asked the minister of possible compensation for the residents, Kahlon said they offered everyone relocation options.

“When the situation arose, we took great efforts to get the elevator fixed, but in the meantime, we offered everyone an opportunity to go to an alternative location. We had units available for people when they needed them and many people took us up on that. We are very happy the units are up and running.”

PHS said the installation of a new elevator at Portland Hotel is expected to begin in the summer, depending on elevator part supply chain issues.

“The elevator will be taken out, and there will be no elevator for six to 11 weeks,” Fader said.

“We have offered everyone alternative housing options. We are encouraging people who have mobility issues to consider a move. We are not evicting anyone from the Portland Hotel.”


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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