tried to condemn building so he could kick out tenants, investigators
Saturday, August 16, 2008
VANCOUVER - The owner of a dilapidated building in Vancouver's
downtown core, once plagued by rats and faulty fire doors, has
been fined $46,500 after he was found guilty of 32 counts of contravening
building maintenance and fire safety regulations.
David Grewal was convicted
in April following inspections of the Piccadilly Pub and Hotel
at 620 West Pender.
The four-storey building,
with 45-single occupancy rooms, was ordered closed in March 2007.
During the trial, inspectors alleged Grewal wanted to run the
building down so the city would condemn it and he could stop renting
it out to low-income tenants.
The inspectors testified
that he would then renovate the building and rent it out to students
at a higher rate.
At the time of the
conviction, city inspectors said Grewal would be forced to renovate
the building and continue to rent it out to low-income tenants.
Grewal's lawyer, Peter
Kletas, said his client declined to comment.
Iain Dixon, a lawyer
for the city, said Grewal has appealed the conviction and would
also appeal the fine.
In his reasons for
sentencing, Justice of the Peace Zahid Makhdoom said he could
have fined Grewal the maximum of $2,000 on each count -- for a
total of $64,000 -- but because it was his first conviction and
he has promised to renovate the building, he felt a lower fine
However, he did note
the disregard Grewal had shown during the trial.
"Neither Mr. Grewal
nor another defence witness demonstrated any appreciation of the
fact that the people who resided at the Piccadilly were rent-paying
individuals, who were paying for but were not receiving a safe
and secure accommodation consistent with the health, building,
and fire regulations and standards of the City of Vancouver,"
cosmetic repairs, Piccadilly remained a veritable Dickensenian
black hole even after comprehensive and repeated inspections,
work orders, verbal and written warning and [advisories]. ...
Any emergency or a fire situation would likely have led to an
In an interview in
April, Grewal blamed the tenants for the state of the building,
which, among other things, had broken plumbing, broken interior
walls, faulty fire doors, faulty fire alarms, inadequate fire
separation, combustible material accumulated inside and out, and
obstructed rear-exit fire doors. One hotel manager adopted some
rats after she realized that she could not get rid of them.
On Friday, a notice
of service disconnection from given by BC Hydro. The building
did not appear to have had any renovation work done on the outside,
except for the former pub area.
The street-level pub,
which used to host independent rock bands, has been transformed
into Tunnel Multi-Lounge, a swanky nightclub. It opened in May
following $600,000 worth of renovations.