Neighbour of SRO hotel fed up with garbage, feces being tossed on roof
A business owner in Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood says he's tired of seeing garbage, used needles and human waste tossed onto his roof from the single-room occupancy hotel next door.
The issue came to a head this week when someone at the Regent Hotel, which is owned by the Sahota family, threw a bicycle off the building's fire escape. It ended up landing on a power line and causing a transformer to blow.
"The power was out for this whole block for a good two-three hours," said Robert Rizk, who owns the nearby Fortune Sound Club.
The entire incident was recorded on a surveillance camera. Vancouver Police confirmed they are investigating the incident and tell CTV News they’re taking it seriously. While the suspect has yet to be identified, he or she could be facing a mischief charge.
Rizk's establishment is located just across the alleyway from the Regent, and he told CTV News he's been dealing with residents tossing trash, needles, furniture and even feces onto his roof for years.
"Tenants are just freely throwing their garbage onto our roof and into the alley," Rizk said. "I've filed numerous police reports, called the city numerous times, with no results. Every Thursday I have my staff going up there to clean up all the needles, all the garbage, all the human s—t."
He claims heavier items like mattresses and chairs have actually caused damage to the building, and when he brought roofers in to fix it, one of them was struck by a box of sharps.
"The roofing company refused to keep working up there until I hired a security guard," Rizk said.
He said he's sympathetic to the social issues in the neighbourhood, which is adjacent to the Downtown Eastside, but he's frustrated that there's seemingly no recourse for his problem.
Multiple attempts to ask the building owners for help were unsuccessful, according to Rizk, and he's had no luck dealing with the city or police either.
Vancouver's deputy city manager, Paul Mochrie, insisted staff are taking the concerns seriously and putting "significant resources" into cleaning up the area.
He also noted it's a complex problem that the city can't handle alone.
Rizk told CTV News he just wants to see the Regent's owners, the Sahotas, who own a number of infamously rundown properties in Metro Vancouver, take some responsibility and put up blocks to prevent people from throwing garbage from the fire escape. He suggested it might also help if there were more garbage receptacles in the SRO for tenants to access.
Owner Gudy Sahota hung up twice when contacted by CTV News to discuss the issue Wednesday.
Rizk said he was able to convince staff at the Regent to send a couple tenants onto his roof to clean up the mess on Tuesday, but only by threatening to collect it himself and deliver it to the SRO’s lobby. He’s hoping a more permanent solution can be worked out.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos