Pandora Street tragedy deserves independent review

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

60 comments

paper stacks.jpg
Countless numbers of inspection reports didn't seem to have an impact - why?

Just before Christmas, a tragic fire on Pandora Street in Vancouver took the lives of three disadvantaged citizens. They were reportedly sharing a flophouse with up to six other people and died after a faulty extension cord set the house on fire. It's been a couple of weeks now since the incident occurred, but I certainly hope our local media keep up the pressure on the City of Vancouver to get answers regarding all the circumstances that led to the fire.

So far the only elected official from Vision Vancouver to speak to publicly on this issue has been Andrea Reimer. When asked whether she would support NPA councillor Suzanne Anton's call for an independent review into this tragedy, she said no decision could be made until staff got back from their holidays.

This morning City Manager Penny Ballem was on CKNW spinning out that the City of Vancouver did everything it could to prevent this tragedy. She also continues to claim the City was on the verge of taking the owner to court. Okay...so does her public statements mean there will be no independent review?

It has been widely reported that this house had been a problem for a long while and various inspectors had made frequent visits to the premises over the last 12 months or so. In fact, they visited the home last August and again in November. Yet despite inspectors writing up numerous reports, it would appear this house was allowed to operate as a quasi-boarding house.  One theory floating out there is that City staff are so afraid of the political repercussions of closing down flophouses, that they are loathe to do so.

There remain dozens of unanswered questions related to what the City did and didn't do to prevent the loss of life at this home. Unlike the ever-optimistic Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston, I don't believe the City did everything possible. After sifting through the dozens of pages of inspection reports, it's clear to me that someone needs to conduct an independent examination of exactly what did and did not happen in the months leading up to the fire.

Due to the rampant politicization of the public service at Vancouver City Hall, I don't think the review should be done by the City staff. Rather, I agree with Anton that an independent third party should come in and be given a free hand to look at all the circumstances in this case and see if the City could have done anything differently. I'm simply not convinced that an internal review signed off by the current City Manager would have any credibility - especially given her recent statements to the media that no stone was left unturned.

I'm pretty sure Mayor Gregor Robertson and his political henchman will fight any kind of public review of city procedures and processes when it comes to dealing with these kinds of flophouses. That's because the report may well highlight some serious deficiencies with the way the City is enforcing (or not enforcing) its current by-laws intended to protect both individuals and communities from harm.

When Mayor Gregor finally comes back from his latest vacation, he'll likely be told by his political advisors to quash Anton's motion in its entirety. He'll then proceed to tell the media there are already a couple of reviews underway and there is no need for the City to conduct one as well. That would be unfortunate, given that a coroner's inquiry won't review the effectiveness of City by-laws nor review what role the City could have played in preventing this horrible tragedy.

If Mayor Gregor were to agree to an independent review, here are a few questions the examiner might want to answer:

1. Are the City's by-laws effective enough in dealing with flophouses? If not, what should be changed?

2. Were City staff effectively using the current by-laws to ensure nobody was living in a home unfit for human habitation?

3. Could any of the individuals living at the Pandora home have been offered temporary housing in one of the 250 empty Olympic Village social housings units? Or other social housing?

4. Was the City of Vancouver really on the verge of pursuing legal action? If so, what proof do they have to back up their claim?

5. Why did the Deputy City Manager say inspectors did not find any issues concerning life and safety...yet when the inspection reports were released, it was revealed that numerous incidents related to poor electrical were documented in the home?

6. Are City staff feeling any political pressure not to close flophouses down even though they may be fire hazards?

A local pastor and family members have already publicly stated they think the City should conduct an independent review. I agree with them.

Let's hope that in this one instance the Mayor can put partisan politics aside and get to the bottom of what happened to three of his citizens just before Christmas. The Mayor owes it to these men, their family and the local community to get as many answers as possible.

UPDATE @ 7:15 pm: "Victim's family blames city for fatal house fire" says headline for CTV news story. To view it click here. CKNW also covered during their morning newscasts as well.

- Post by Daniel

60 Comments

First the facts:
the city has the authority under the standards of maintenance bylaw to shut down a illegal boarding house:

Standards of Maintenance By-law Section 23.2 through 23.4
(see link: http://vancouver.ca/bylaws/5462c.pdf)

The City ORDERED the owner under Section 23.2 to 1. cease using the bldg as a rooming house and, failing other remedies, vacate the premises entirely on or before October 31, 2010. This ORDER was dated August 26, 2010 (Property Inspection Report signed by Will Johnston).

Legally, the owner was required to evict the tenants while upgrades were undertaken OR vacate entirely by Oct. 30. That this did not happen places a large onus of responsibility onto the property owner.

What other resources does the city have that can compel a non-compliant owner to vacate? I doubt very much police evicting people who would likely be rendered homeless plays well to the media. Could the services and power be disconnected? I do not know.

I am not on the city's side per se, but am acknowledging that they have to the point where the August 26 order was issued acted responsibly in their duties. Were there more duties to discharge? Perhaps, but the brunt of this tragedy should be shouldered by the negligent property owner. I imagine that is how the law will see it.

I agree any inquiry should be independent. I am hesitant to jump all over the city without first reading the reports and understanding that it is the building owner who defied an order and disregarded the applicable by-laws governing their business. That defiance and consistent pattern of negligence appears to be the primary contributor to this tragedy.

This screams mountain out of molehill to me.

How many of these houses remained in operation throughout the NPA's run? How many inspection reports sat on the shelf under the NPA? This is just opportunistic political dog-piling.

boohoo do you not agree with the family members and the pastor then? I guess you know all the details of this case and we should all just buy the city's version. NOT.

I don't think you actually read this post did you? I think the main point is that an independent person could review what happened and make recommendations on what could have been done differently.

This is not about NPA vs Vision as you always want to make it out to be. This is about getting answers and not letting these men die in vain.

Do you not agree a review of this case might lead to better outcomes in the future? If there is nothing to hide, teh mayor should welcome this review, not just dismiss it.

I wish the mayor would be consistent in his exploitation of the helpless. He squeezed every ounce of theatre he could out of the woman who died on the street after lighting herself on fire trying to stay warm suggesting the previous administration had failed its citizens, but this story - oh, sorry - not the same accountability?

You can't have it both ways. There needs to be a full review of how this was allowed to occur so it can never happen again.

Jim,

I have no idea who you are yet you seem comfortable claiming I 'always make it out to be Vision vs NPA'. I have stated repeatedly (seriously how many times do I have to say this) I think both parties/the party system is ridiculous. My point is exactly that-- Here we have NPA people all up in arms about this, blaming the mayor for everything under the sun when the same thing happened under their watch it just happens the 'tragedy' occured now.

The real tragedy however is the faux concern people have about the homeless when something like this happens. I love all the weeping stories about the homeless in the winter and how cold it is. But the other 10 months of the year? Screw em.

So sure, have an independent review. Hire more bylaw enforcement officers. Sue the balls off these and other slumlords for not adhering to the bylaws.

It seems only right to press for independent review, to see what more could have been done (if anything) at the City level to enforce the ORDER issued to vacate the premises prior to the tragedy.

However, I hope people realize there is a hell of a balancing act for the city to perform between ensuring that appropriate shelter for the helpless is not removed from the system while at the same time protecting the same people from ruthless landlords.

Comments that this is the same old politicking re: homelessness is not only cynical, I think it is wrong in this instance. The city does not own or operate the facility in question. It can only react to infractions against the bylaws and complaints against the owners.

Was the Order as written in August sufficient for an eviction? If so, why the hesitation? The City is probably only now sifting through the paper trying to get their own collective heads around this, and they have yet to make any statements one way or another while they do so.

Pandora Street was not a legal SRO but an illegal business operating without appropriate concern for the tenants. The City ORDERED it closed until appropriate repairs undertaken and the appropriate bylaws adhered to regarding owning and operating a rooming house. They took appropriate steps up to this point to try to prevent a tragedy.

The place was ordered closed as of October 30 and the owner defied the City. The question is what could the city do next, given their powers and the tools at hand, after Oct. 30 - the date the building was supposed to be vacated - and before Dec. 22 - the date of the fire ?

That is the question for independent review, and also my question to all commenters. What tools could the city have used, and how would that have prevented a tragedy if a building owner is negligent?

boohoo,

I need to clarify for myself. I have repeatedly asked for answers as to what happened to the "extreme heat water bottle outreach program" that existed before Vision took office, when one of the other fire victims brothers, Curtis Brick died July 2009.

It isn't Vision verses NPA, it is the problem of the guy holding office and getting paid, at this moment in time...it's his job and that is where the buck stops.

The Brick family in particular has suffered twice during this current administration, and they deserve answers.

Sadly in politics that is what is expected of you, if the Mayor can't do the job, he should reconsider what he is doing in office.

This was just taken from Vancouver Sun and as sad as the situation is, I was impressed with the solution the Surrey Fire Department came up with...

SURREY - A middle-aged man who'd apparently been burning lamp oil during a religious observance died in hospital after Surrey firefighters pulled him from the second storey of a smoke-filled house in Newton on Tuesday morning.

The fire happened in the 13000-block of 64th Avenue.

The name of the victim - a 48-year-old man who lived on the second floor - has not been released. He died of smoke inhalation.

Deputy Fire Chief John Caviglia said the fire was accidental.

The victim's battery-operated smoke alarm wasn't working, investigators found. The Surrey fire department will provide anyone who asks with a free home inspection and free smoke alarm with batteries that don't need changing for 10 years.

"If we are to learn a lesson," Caviglia said, "smoke alarms save lives."

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com


Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Surrey+killed+fire/4059926/story.html#ixzz1A7Sq1FHu

@boohoo:

Why do you assume that only all NPA people are up in arms over this sad event? I don't know who the Pastor involved voted for or for that matter, many of the posters on this site as well as others.

When this tragic event could have been prevented, and wasn't due to inaction, then that responsibility lies at the feet of those in power at that time.

There are reports that this place was a fire trap. That the electrical within the building wasn't safe as well as many other unsafe aspects.

21+ reports since February of 2010.

I wonder how Surrey and Mayor Diane Watts would have treated this file. She/they don't seem to sit on their laurels too long to get things changed. Take a look at the number of flop/crack houses Surrey has taken down when owners of those properties don't comply.

But going with the idea of 'meh', if the owner gets around to obeying the laws great if not, well, hands up in the air, what do we do, toss another piece of paper at them that they will also ignore, is unacceptable right across the board.

If this woman (the owner) and her husband can live in a million+ dollar house then they can get their 'sh*t' together and do the right thing by the people they are living off the backs of. It is a form of prostitution - homeless prostitution.

Slumlord millionaries - Canadian style.

@ George:

Global ran a bite on this prior to Christmas.

Surrey Fire Department will come to you house and tell you how you can better 'fire proof' your home as well as provide you with and install fire detectors if you don't already have them.

Due to tragic events of their own and the large immigrant population (many fire officials in various countries are corrupt and not trusted) they are trying to educate people and prevent future tragic events.

Thanks Max,

I think this line says it all...

"they are trying to educate people and prevent future tragic events."

I'm not assuming it's only NPA types, I was replying to this blog post.

Saying 'meh, shit happens' isn't right. It's horrible. But let's take a step back and get some perspective. Every day we sit back and say 'meh' when it comes to the homeless. We're all horrified when this kind of thing happens and we call it 'tragic' and demand reports on how this could happen and scream for accountability. We blame the mayor who blames someone else who blames someone else. And then a few days later we go back to ignoring it.

So you want to talk real action? Real change? I'm all ears. But it's not simple, quick or easy. And that's what politics is all about.

Just as a side note:

A homeless cold weather action plan needs to include those days when it is pelting rain and cold.

I know from speaking with the homeless gentlemen in my neighborhood that they find this type of weather almost harder to deal with than the current narrow definition that is currently being used of the weather falling below a certain temperature and/or with snow.

Many of the shelters are not open for the rainy periods.

According to a mother of one of the victims of this fire, her son was paying $465.00 per month for this hell hole.

If all 7 men were paying this amount for 'rent', that is $3,255/month to the slumlord.

Not exactly a small sum for a place that had electrical issues, water piping issues, mice etc.....

I do hope the relatives sue the landlord, at the very least.

@ Max
What is sad here is the housing portion for assistance recipients is 375.00.

Did anyone catch CTV news tonight? They did a great job of grilling Ballem on the pandora st fire.

Get this. She finally admitted the city has NOT proceeded with any legal action against the homeowner. Yup. Despite telling the media over christmas they were taking the owner to court she tells ctv that NOTHING has been done. This is all starting to sound fishy.

Sad to see one of the men got buried today. But where is the mayor on this? Why isn't he speaking out and why are we only hearing from bureaucrats?

Anyone check out Ferris Bula (Alex's term not mine) today. She's all mushy and gushy over how vision should wear no blame for this and how the NPA are all gangin up on her lefty pals. Boo hoo (no pun intended) cry me a river. Frances 3 people died. You should be asking tough questions instead of being an apologist for vision.

@boohoo

The NPA council would not have stood for these violations and would have used them to eject the undesirables under the umbrella of Operation Purification aka Civic City. If it's not a trumped up 'survey' run out of a slush fund and with Mikeyboy's hands all over it, it's the stunning use of STOCK PHOTOS for every post. Did you see how effective the macro shot of a pile of paper receipts was? We're buried in paperwork! Doesn't it burn you up?! That's what agitprop is all about, getting us mad about everyday life. GRRR! I'm so angry at the party that City Caucus doesn't like!

CTV news covered this story on their 6 o'clock newscast. Take a look at Ballem's response to what the status is of their legal action against the home owner. Interesting.

http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110104/bc_flophouse_fire_110104/20110104?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

After watching this, I'm even more convinced we need an independent review.

I watched the CTV news clip:

So, Ballem, Jang and Sadhu Johnston all outrightly lied about the legal action.

Ballem suggested at first that they were on the verge of taking the slumlord to court - mentioning it takes months to get a court date and then states they (the City) hadn't even filed the paperwork for a court date.

Bravo.

I hope your collective asses get sued.

.... we all witnessed it, and it is on record!!

Pandora's box has been opened, and the lid can't be put back on the box....

Funny thing is if you read the Bula blog you wouldn't even realize the facts.

I have now taken Bula off the credible list.

Someone should start building a wall of Kleenx boxes at cityhall and when they assk you what you're doing...

Just tell them you're trying to ask mayor Gregor why he hasn't cried in public or even commented about the death of these 3 men

Count me in as another former Bula blog reader. Just read her post and it's shameful. She should be asking tough questions instead of making excuses for Robertson.

"Funny thing is if you read the Bula blog you wouldn't even realize the facts."

Facts that you get from this blog? Facts you hear on the evening news?

Give me a break.

If you want to start working on decreasing the homeless situation, start by dealing with the open drug market.

That is the crux of the problem.

Get rid of the low life drug dealers - no more fines, but proper jail time, right off the bat.

If the dealer is not a Canadian citizen, either here waiting for status or as a refugee, pack them up and send them back to where they came from. No endless appeals, no wait, no more bleeding heart hug a thug mentality.

We do not need to harbor criminals.

Supply and demand. Cut off the supply and place the monies wasted trying to police the situation into the dealing with the 'demand' side.

We have a huge problem in the DTES because we allow it - and the word is out.

"There are a lot of things that go on that aren't aligned with the bylaw -- that are basically at odds with the bylaw. But that doesn't give the city the right to shut it down," City Manager Penny Ballem told CTV News.

I'd like to remind readers that in August the city ordered that remedial work occur OR the building vacated on Oct. 30 (a fact ignored by the statements of Penny Ballem).

If the owner was undertaking some of the measures ordered, does the city have the power to enforce eviction after Oct. 30? Are there legal measures the city can take, and how long do these steps take? Does anyone here know the process involved?

There is a window of Oct. 30 - Dec. 22 for the city to act based on the paper trail from the inspection reports.

What could the City legally do within their scope of powers in this time?

What remedies or powers are missing from the equation that would assist the city in the fight against slumlords?

What I'd love to see from people responding are more suggestions like from george on how this tragedy may have been prevented based on facts. Daniel's piece calls for independent review and I agree.

@douglas:

I posted this earlier:

I live in a strata situation. Severl years bck (about 10 or so) we ran into a sitution with one of the owners converting his 2 bedroom unit in a 'rooming house' of sorts by installing floating walls to divide the space into 7 sleeping rooms.

He in-turn was staying on the balcony, which he had closed in with heavy plastic and was using a propane heater.

The strata sent him letters - he ignored them; we fined him, he paid the fines and still ignored everything else - so, we called fire inspection.

They came in, ran the inspection, deemed it unsafe and slapped eviction notices for the tenants up on the door.

The tenants did get some of their monies back - they were exchange students responding to ads he placed at UBC etc. and were unaware of what they were getting into.

The problem was solved.

So, I don't understand how this house could not have been shut down.

And I have to say, when I heard Kerry Jang spouting on about rendering these people 'homeless' was the worse of the two evils for not closing this place up, it truly burns by 'butt'.

Max
Thanks for constructive comment. Perhaps because it was a strata your situation was corrected so swiftly. Obviously with Jang's comments some political balancing act is going on that differs somewhat.

I know that in 2007 the City did close a flophouse (the Picadilly Hotel) which was a hell-hole falling into flagrant disrepair. Pivot Legal Society was all over the city to keep this and other SRO's open and relocate people. However the situation was so bad (9-1-1 calls with far too much regularity, firetrap building, rooms with no windows, and on it goes) that the City decided that homelessness was a better option for the residents than keeping it open.

Perhaps the city could in future evict people upon the date listed on the inspection report AND, of said flophouse is illegal, move to reclassify the property as SRO's and force the flop-house owner to comply with the SRO by-law - once it is on the books as an SRO the property value an marketability of the property will plummit. Of course the neighbours won't be happy, but they may be more motivated to fight the illegal rooming houses in their neighbourhood.

Just thinking out loud

douglas:

How fast do you think this slumlord would have worked to bring things up to code had the city closed this house, evicted the tenants and taken that revenue away for the owner.

I would venture that one of two things would have happened: she would have either complied and made the changes or she would have sold it.


Agreed. Since the zoning doesn't allow for the flophouse in the first place it would have probably just been sold for property value plus $1 - which would probably be best for everyone. One less slumlord

@James:

Bula is one of two bloggers that were given the thumbs up by Ballem and Vision.

During the last city council session (yes I watched it) Councilor Woodsworth brought up that they, the councilors, would not be able to either access or get information included in their daily packages from any blogs. This concerened her.

Ballem then clarified they would still get info inlcuded in the morning/daily package from Bulas and Lees blogs.

All others are off the grid.

Freedom of information stops at the City Mangager's office - for media and now the city councilors.

@ Max& James
Off topic, but related...
Have you noticed that CivicScene.ca has been off the grid since the holidays. At first the screen was blank now a message comes up from web server.

@ George:

What - he cashed his last 'paycheque' and fled the country? LOL!

Hey, when did the Mayor leave for vacation - maybe Ross is hiding out in his luggage, trying to get the 'scoop'.
(or doing his laundry.)

Max
Just rechecked and the message has changes again.. yesterday it stated coming soon, and the webserver was holding the space, now reads data error...it is gone...

Vision has in fact been publicizing the fact that it is pushing landlords more than any other previous council has been willing to do. Do you have any evidence that they aren’t addressing this?’.... from Francis Bula's blog

****

I am curious about this assertation.

Does this include the yearly tax break Vision has provided to the Sihota family (other well known slumlords operating in the DTES) in order to secure land owned by them to be used, as a community garden. What is that worth $160 K per year in property tax they do not have to pay?

And lets face it, when it comes to cleaning up the SROs in the DTES and getting new units on-line, it is the Province that gets the accalades.

Minister Coleman had done leaps and bounds over any city coucil on this front.

I believe there is somewhere around 600 units coming on-line this year.

And I hope credit is given where is it due.

Perhaps Andrea Reimer can ‘tweet’ about it.

Interesting.

Perhaps since CityCaucus outed who was paying for this blog, it has been pulled - outlived it's usefulness?

Is Vision trying to distance themselves from this blog and the money trail behind it before the election?

Max

correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't AGT out FD Element...

@ George:

I archived both blogs and believe it is CityCaucus that ran the articles.

And if I am mistaken, I apologize in advance to all parties.

Hey guys it looks like vision's official blogger may be back in business after all. Good help is hard to find these days.

Here is the current message on his blog. I've purposely removed the website name in order to not give him any more free promotoin.

"Due to unreliable tech support, [my website] has been down for the past few days. I am spending time recovering files and archives, and will be back and fully functional tomorrow, January 6th."

We all await anxiously his next post spewing out more visoin progpaganda. Bleechhhh

at least we know they are trolling:-)

@ Max

Alex G Tsakumis filed his report and documents on Sept. 8 2010, CityCaucus wrote a further report on Sept 9 2010..
both parties did a great job reporting,
but credit where credit is due :-)

My apologies and to Alex as well.

My mistake and thank you for correcting me.

Hmmmm, I wonder if he is referring to FD Elements when he mentions 'unreliable tech support'.

The issue of enforcing Vancouver's Standards of Maintenance by-laws,especially as they relate to SRO's, has been a concern for many of us for many years. In this regard, I do not see this as a NPA vs Vision Vancouver matter.

However, I do agree with the sentiments expressed in this post, (and the response by Julia). In this case, an independent enquiry is warranted. The investigation should attempt to determine the extent of the problem ie: just how many other properties are being operated as illegal and unsafe rooming houses in contravention of both zoning and building by-laws; and what steps can and should the city reasonably take in order to enforce its Zoning and Standards of Maintenance by-laws.

The reason I single out Julia's comment is that the Mayor did announce that a tragedy affecting the homeless is what prompted him to enter municipal politics, and addressing homelessness is his number one priority. He should have spoken out by now.

In advance of any enquiry, I do hope city officials and the Mayor and Council will publicly state how they will deal with similar situations in the future. We all know there are many examples of unsafe rooming houses which are exploiting the poor that are accidents waiting to happen.

I personally would like to see the city carefully consider whether it can initiate a legal action against this particular landlord, and if it can, do so immediately. Hopefully this will serve as a warning to other slum landlords who will then proceed to undertake necessary repairs.

Michael,

They need to see your response at Bula's blog, as well.

I don't know why he calls himself boohoo. Boo-boo would be more appropriate.

Last thing I read there was spot on!!! Councillor's and the Mayor's remuneration is far below what it should be. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Care to elaborate Gerry? Or do vague insults suit you better.

The Province did a story today on this and Gregor refused to be interviewed. What gives? Isn't Gregor the mayor who got elected cause he felt terrible about a homeless woman who burned to death?

http://www.theprovince.com/councillor+continues+call+city+investigation+into+fatal+flophouse+blaze/4063226/story.html

He keeps putting Penny out to hang on this one. Yikes. Everyone at the hall thinks both of them are a joke at the moment. If would be funny if it weren't for the fact three people died.

NOTE TO MEDIA - keep digging!!!

@City All Inzider.

You've no doubt heard the mayor talking to the media today after more than 2 weeks of silence. Apparently panhandling is down downtown and he wants us to know the good news.

But, why has he not yet said anything about the 3 deaths and 1 injured man caused by the Pandora fire? Surely he could offer the families of these men condolences on behalf of the City of Vancouver. Why isn't he personnally clearing up the conflicting and confusing statements made by the various Councillors and City Managers over tha past 2 weeks.

For instance:

1) Is the City taking the slumlord to court? when? on what grounds?

2) When will the house be demolished?

3) Will all the necessary investigations be completed before the house is demolished?

4) What is the City doing to ensure another tragedy such as this one will not happen again in the short term and in the long term?

There have been a series of fires around the Metro area in the past 2 weeks. The cold weather has just started. Are Vancouver citizens, especially the most vulnerable, at more risk of home fires at this time of the year? What precautions should people be taking to stay safe? Where can they go to get more information and/or advice?

In the past 24 hours an evacuation of an apartment building with fire safety issues has been ordered evacuated.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+orders+tenants+unsafe+eastside+apartment+evacuated/4076223/story.html

The question I have is during the news reports of the Pandora St. fire, it was reported that a BC Housing building the Pandera has fire safety issues and showed holes that had been cut in the walls...

My question is has anyone taken action to do those repairs for the Pandera residents?
Does anyone know? .... I think this is a provincial issue but I'm curious, since the report spoke with residents that expressed concerns.


Can you please clarify your words George. something seems lost. Thanks.

Gregor is still silent on this tragedy almost over two weeks after it happened. I understnad that he was "off the grid" at his vacation property on cortez island during the holidays, but now he's back.

Funny how the cat got his tongue. Robertson had no problem talking about Tracie when she tragically died in a fire in a back alley. It was so convenient for him to talk about her to help push his HEAT shelters. What a hypocrite. Why are no media pushing him on this? He should get out of his bubble now and speak to the contradictions that are starting to emerge from his office.

Sorry for the lack of clarity Bill.

During the time of media coverage of the tragic Pandora St. fire, there was a news story where Global interviewed residents of an apartment building that was formerly operated by Dera.

The building was called Pandera. The clip had interviews with residents complaining of safety issues. It showed hallways with open holes where plumbing had been repaired at intervals of several feet along the entire hallway. Other issues were discussed as well.

I will have to search the archives for the piece and get back to you.

I have a concern only because I briefly caught a bit of last nights news where residents were evacuated from a building for safety concerns one of the issues were the holes in the wall as it is stated it was a saftey issue if fire erupted.

What I would like to know is, did the COV evacuate the building yesterday of the private owner to show concern for the issue, or as a media photo op.
Is the Mayor focusing on private owners only, or have the issues of the people in the public affordable housing been addressed as well.

Hope I've done a better job of clarity...

The holes in the walls are a fire hazard problem George because corridor and party walls are designed as "fire separations". The actual fire barrier is the UL rated drywall on both sides of the wall. If you remove or have even small holes in this drywall the integrity of the fire separation is compromised, in fact, it can then actually increase the danger because the wood studs in these walls will catch fire and burn immediately whereas they normally wouldn't for some time. Interior suite walls are not fire separations, nor are all walls in a single family house like Pandora. That's one of many reasons why single family houses should not be used as mutli-tenant occupancies.

Pandera / Pandora. Strange proximities.

I visited both the Dundas and Pandora today.

Dundas looks not bad from the street, a few broken, un-repaired, partially boarded windows at the sides. Couldn't get inside.

Based on what was visible from the back lane the Pandora, fire was at the back, almost entirely in the enclosed very large back porch (wider than the house). It's aluminium and plastic covered roof was entirely collapsed, aside from some melted aluminium and plastic sections. The walls were also badly burned, but still standing. The roof assembly which was visible appears to have been an aluminium roof membrane over an +/-4" deep corrugated plastic, the latter probably the kind used over the original back porch deck.

Bill

Thank you for taking the time to visit these sites and for the report. I appreciate your efforts and wish you all the best in your endeavors during the election.
I have followed your responses on several blogs and respect the thought put into your answers.

You Sir, have my vote.

Thank you George. And your comments are also factual, reasoned, and thoughtful.

With some trepidation this comment should be added to the mix because it is equally important to the discussion to date. Below is my comment on Jeff Lee's blog about the same subject area but, focused on the Dundas building.

"Jeff, you've hit the nail on the head with your observation that: "...it's a symbol of a lot of what is wrong in this city".

"There are 2 sides to this issue. So far only 1 has been talked about. We've condemned the 'supply side' slumlords, well and good. But, there is another side to this storey. There is also the 'demand side' - the tenants. Part of the equation to achieve a long term solution to these problems lies here.

"No matter how decrepit the the building the slumlord offers, it's also often the tenants who make it what it is. That seems to be the case at Dundas based on Sharon's comment. Pandora, from what we know now, is another matter.

"Someone I know well in Winnipeg owned a very clean, respectable 12 suite building in Fort Rouge. It had good tenants and was always full. A so called real estate friend convinced this gentleman to sell this building and buy another larger building on the other side of the Assinaboine River. My friend was a bit naive. Even I, not having been in the Peg much since 69, was aware that this neighbourhood was bad news. Boy was it.

"Although this new building was a slightly better version of Dundas, the tenants were impossible to control. The owner/landlord lived in the building. He wanted to improve it, but found it impossible with his limited resources. What happened? He lost his primary investment and home to the bank.

"Until this side of the issue is faced we will not be able to deal with this problem successfully."

The City is definitely in the wrong here.
As per the article in the Vancouver Sun
states:

"And fees of $100 an hour will be charged for reinspecting premises that don’t meet fire safety standards, Fire Chief John McKearney said Thursday.

Such fees could have been charged for the past five years, said Ballem, but haven’t been due to “bureaucratic laziness.”"

In other words the staff was too lazy to administer fees that would certainly motivate the owner to repair and make the occupancy fire safe. Other cities in the area use this method of continuous fees until the owner complies with great success.
At the very least the house should have had working interconnected smoke alarms and windows that were big enough for occupants to escape the fire.This is not a great expense.
Just Bureaucratic Laziness.

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