#2 - 630B Carnarvon St., New Westminster BC V3M 1E5
***Please enter through the BACK entrance - off Mackenzie St.***
New provincial fines for delinquent landlords are great, says Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, but for best results charge them criminally.
Jang was pleased with a $115,000 fine imposed Tuesday on notorious landlord Gurdyal Singh Sahota, a slumlord millionaire who has been the target over the years of a number of Vancouver city crackdowns.
Sahota, who owns tens of millions of dollars worth of properties, was singled out for the first administrative penalty handed out by the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch.
“From our perspective, it’s about time,” said Jang. “I’m glad to see that the Residential Tenancy Branch is stepping forward. But we used to just impose a fine – that didn’t work.”
Jang said the city has found it’s most persuasive to get a court order enforcing the city’s standards of maintenance bylaw.
“If they fail to comply, it’s essentially contempt of court,” said Jang. “It’s a criminal offence – it’s not just a fine.
Rotting walls, a collapsed ceiling and decayed deck railings at a Surrey residential building have earned a notorious B.C. land-lord the first administrative penalty under the Residential Tenancy Act.
Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his company, Waterford Developments, have been handed a $115,000 penalty for deliberately failing to abide by a May 2011 agreement to address a chronically unattended leaking roof that affected up to six units at Kwantlen Park Manor in North Surrey.
The penalty includes a maximum one-time fine of $5,000, plus $500 for each of the 220 days of non-compliance since a June 2011 deadline.
Sue Collard, a one-time building manager at Kwantlen Park, still lives in the dilapidated three-storey building and said Tuesday's penalty "was warranted."
A high-profile B.C. landlord has been handed a $115,000 penalty for refusing to fix the leaky roof on a Surrey apartment complex, despite numerous orders to do so.
According to the provincial government, the punishment handed to Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his company Waterford Developments is the first ever administrative penalty given out by the Residential Tenancy Branch.
Tenants at Kwantlen Park Manor in North Surrey have complained about moisture and mould in their suites for years and the RTB has issued several orders for Sahota to fix the roof, but to no avail.
Sahota's fine for failing to do so includes a $5,000 one-time penalty plus $500 for each of the 220 days that the roof was left unrepaired since the latest order. The RTB has had the legal right to fine irresponsible landlords a maximum of $5,000 per day since 2008.
Official complaints about the building came from resident Sue Collard, who told ctvbc.ca that the penalty is a testament to the hard work of housing advocates in Surrey.
ACORN Canada's office in New Westminster has become a hub of action for the 6th year in a row as we kick off our full time Free Income Tax Preparation Clinic.
It's a packed house on a daily basis, which has helped us to complete over 500 returns in February alone! In partnership with Van City Credit Union, ACORN Canada has volunteers waiting to do simple tax returns and help people save and redeem their hard earned money and credits.
Since 2007 ACORN Canada has filed over 6000 returns for people in New Westminster, Surrey, Burnaby and beyond out of our office in New Westminster. That’s over $7 Million in tax returns, credits and benefits going back to communities where our members live, and over half a million dollars in direct tax prep cost savings, avoiding the high interest costs associated with corporate tax preparers.
A small group took to the windy, cold streets of Downtown New Westminster during the noon hour Tuesday to protest fees charged by Western Union and financial institutions for sending money overseas.
ACORN Canada spokeswoman Nancy Anemba led about eight people in a rally in front of the Scotiabank at Columbia and Begbie streets. They want the bank to put pressure on Western Union to reduce remittance fees charged to those wiring money back home to five per cent. Acorn says most of its clients have low-income jobs and send on average only $150 at a time. That often means the fees accumulate to 18 per cent or more for the sender.
Like many other immigrants and refugees in New Westminster, Anemba said she has been sending money to family in Nairobi, Kenya ever since arriving in Canada a little over five years ago. Most of the money she wired went to her daughter until she joined Anemba here five months ago. Now it goes to her parents. Western Union provides the money-sending service through banks, payday loan outlets and convenience stores.
Canada Drouin, one of ACORN Canada’s first leaders in Whalley, announced last month that she is stepping down as Chapter Chair to make way for new leadership in an expanded Surrey Centre ACORN Chapter. By no means will Canada stop being a leader in ACORN Canada; quite to the contrary - she has committed to being the treasurer of the new chapter and will use her fundraising skills to help show other members how to raise money for the chapter.
Canada's door was knocked on by an organizer in 2005 shortly after ACORN Canada was founded. She helped lead successful campaigns for payday lending regulations, numerous community safety issues like better lighting at Skytrain stations and at her apartment complex, as well as affordable and livable housing campaigns what have become a staple for the organization in Metro Vancouver. Further, Canada has fundraised more than any other ACORN Canada member in the history of the organization.
As Canada steps aside to her new role in the organization, our Healthy Homes campaign that she helped pioneer in Surrey has been blazing a trail for other chapters. Our newest chapter in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia will be launching a Healthy Homes Campaign this month,modelled on the campaign Canada helped found in Surrey. With a proven fundraiser enshrined as Treasurer, members can be assured that the fight for Healthy Homes in Surrey will continue.
The results showed once again that living wage policies - as well as being key poverty reduction tools - are winning positions for elected officials. Living wage champion Jaimie McEvoy won easily, increasing his vote total by 30%, proving that having the courage to enact progressive policies that support working families is rewarded on election night.
ACORN Canada's membership in New Westminster launched their campaign for a Living Wage Policy in 2009 as a contribution to the broader Living Wage for Families Campaign. After engaging Coucillor McEvoy, gathering over 1500 signatures, signing up 400 new members, and pushing the campaign forward in City Council, Canada's first living wage policy was eventually passed.
ACORN Canada's Disability Rights Group (DRG) in British Columbia has begun creating a platform for their campaign. Led by long time leader Tom Page, this platform will include raising disability rates to a livable standard, simplifying the application process, and increasing the support to families with dependants - among other changes.
The DRG was founded to spearhead a campaign to reinstate the Community Volunteer Supplement (CVS), a $100 per month payment to individuals on provincial disability who volunteer with community groups.
After over a year of campaigning, the government recently announced an additional $5 million would be added to the program to address the backlog, while also announcing that they would no longer allow new enrollment in the program as of Oct 1st, 2011. This was a bittersweet victory for the DRG, but one that has galvanized the group around its new platform and they'll be fighting hard to make it a reality.
A living wage by definition allows a family to cover basic living expenses - in Metro Vancouver it is calculated at $18.81/hour (including benefits). A municipal living wage policy, like the one adopted in New Westminster, means all city staff are guaranteed a living wage as well as anyone who provides contracted services to the city.
Read the full story here