February 22nd, 2024

Operator backs ending funding to private rooming hotels after B.C. fire inquest

By The Canadian Press on February 6, 2024.

The society that operated the Vancouver supportive housing building where a fire killed two people two years ago says it fully supports the recommendations of a coroner's inquest. Debris falls to the ground as demolition resumes on the Winters Hotel after a body was found in the single room occupancy building, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 22, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The society that operated the Vancouver supportive housing building where a fire killed two people two years ago says it fully supports the recommendations from a coroner’s inquest.

The Atira Women’s Resource Society says it fully supports all of the recommendations the inquest’s jury made on Monday, which include stopping public funding for single-room occupancy hotels in privately owned buildings.

Atira says it is increasingly clear that “no reasonable investment” into 100-year-old buildings can ensure health and safety for both tenants and staff, and that it is now up to the province to “fund supportive social housing to the level that guarantees safety.”

The society says in a statement that BC Housing should prioritize purpose-built housing and other long-term solutions moving forward.

The Winters Hotel is operated by Atira with funding from BC Housing, but owned by Peter Plett.

About 70 tenants lived in the building when lit candles left on a bed started a fire on April 11, 2022, sweeping through the building and killing Mary Ann Garlow and Dennis Guay, whose bodies were found in the rubble more than a week after the blaze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.

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