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Vancouver tenants confront building owners at rally protesting poor living conditions

Dozens of residents from four East Vancouver apartment buildings confronted the buildings' owners and management at a rally calling attention to squalid living conditions.

Residents of 4 buildings owned by Cressey complain of pests and mould

A person speaks on a mic as others hold up signs denouncing Cressey Corporation as slumlords and one reading 'Fix our windows, fix our doors, no repairs but rent still soars'.

Dozens of residents from four East Vancouver apartment buildings confronted the buildings' owners and management at a rally Tuesday calling attention to squalid living conditions.

Residents allege that building managers with Cressey Development Group and their subsidiary, Cascadia Apartment Rentals, have not responded to pest and mould infestations that have made some units unlivable.

Rally organizers, who called themselves Cascadia Renters United (CRU), also said building managers did not provide an emergency contact and did not conduct emergency repairs in a timely manner — violating B.C. tenants' rights legislation in the process.

Tania Arvanitidis, who lives at the Penderville Apartments, said the impetus for organizing tenants was the fact that she had heard similar stories from friends across Vancouver and B.C. — some of whom had left the province instead of putting up with substandard living conditions.

WATCH | Tenants confront Cressey delegates at Tuesday protest:

Renters confront building owners about living conditions

12 hours ago

Duration 1:00

Featured VideoTenants of four buildings owned by the Cressey Development Group rallied outside the group's office on Oct. 24, and a verbal confrontation with Cressey staff ensued after the protesters entered the building.

"We can actually put a long-term solution to this, hopefully, by actually trying to stand up for ourselves," she told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition. "Really, it's unacceptable that we have to live like this.

"It's not just us. Fifty per cent of the city rents, and so many of them have stories just like this."

Amid a tight squeeze on rentals in Metro Vancouver, a tenants' rights lawyer says that organized tenants' groups may have better success in presenting demands to landlords compared to individuals.

Robert Patterson, with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, said that individual tenants may worry about asserting their rights under the Residential Tenancy Act for fear of eviction or retaliation from landlords.

The Vancouver protest is one of many tenants' rights demonstrations across Canada this year — including in Montreal and Toronto.

"[Tenants' organizing] is starting to pick up speed here in B.C., inspired by some … larger movements in Ontario," Patterson told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's BC Today. "They have strength in numbers when going to their landlords and bringing demands."

Letter not answered

Patterson said groups like the Vancouver Tenants Union and the Victoria Tenants Action Group are among those leading the wave in B.C. when it comes to tenant organizing, and that organized tenants' groups could help alleviate the rental crisis by making their voices heard.

The CRU said they delivered a letter, signed by 60 per cent of tenants across all four Cascadia buildings, to Cressey on Sept. 11. It demanded that they address the numerous complaints, including the failure of building managers to regularly inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Tenants say they did not receive a response from Cressey, and that they were harassed by a building manager after the letter was delivered.

At a testy confrontation on Tuesday, organizers brought up the non-response to the letter and the pest infestations to Cressey representatives — who attempted to assure residents they would take action immediately.

In a statement, Scott Cressey, president of the Cressey Development Group, said he expressed "sincere empathy" for the situation being faced by his tenants.

Cressey said his team would start conducting individual meetings with tenants soon.

"We've acknowledged the tenants' concerns in the letter received on September 11th. To address this, we hired a new assistant building manager and initiated training on September 28," he said.

"We take responsibility for not communicating earlier, but have started immediate assessments and necessary repairs, relocating one tenant to a newer downtown rental building."

The Early Edition7:42Tenants in four East Vancouver apartment buildings to rally today

Featured VideoTenants in four East Vancouver apartment buildings are rallying this morning to pressure the building owner and management to make changes to poor living conditions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Akshay Kulkarni

Journalist

Akshay Kulkarni is a journalist who has worked at CBC British Columbia since 2021. Based in Vancouver, he has covered breaking news, and written features about the pandemic and toxic drug crisis. He is most interested in data-driven stories. You can email him at akshay.kulkarni@cbc.ca.

With files from The Early Edition, BC Today and James Mulleder

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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