Press Release: Tenants of Larco Property Protest Rezoning at Vancouver City Hall

Vancouver, BC –– Today, tenants from 5455 Balsam Street protested the rezoning of their property in front of Vancouver City Hall. Their landlord, Larco Investments, is applying to build an unaffordable high-rise on top of their garden space.

The tenants, the majority of whom are seniors, have reported significant issues with building management since Larco bought the property in 2020, including lack of heat during winter due to insufficient boiler repairs, frequent elevator breakdowns, and an unusable pool for the past three years. The rezoning would exacerbate tenants’ difficulties by removing their underground parking lot during construction, posing safety risks for those with mobility issues.

“We reject the designation of the site as ‘infill,’” said tenant Bhavna Solecki, citing that it serves vital needs for existing tenants. “Losing on-site parking, green space and garbage areas will make it impossible for many of us to live in the building during construction.”

Over ten residents have signed statements saying that the development will force them to leave the building if it is approved. “Tell me, where will I go in this housing crisis?” asked Elizabeth Cross, one of the residents.

“This new building will be unaffordable for the average worker or student, let alone seniors,” said resident Daniel Kasowitz. “There is no sense in building a 15-story high-rise which will probably remain half-empty, when the neighboring apartment buildings are charging less rent for bigger spaces.”

Vancouver City Council has received over a thousand letters from the community in opposition to the rezoning, many of which raise concerns about the effects it will have on the neighborhood. “If this development is approved, we will lose a beautiful garden which is also a haven for many species of birds,” said another resident, Illean Madrid. “Vancouver prides itself on being a green city. Between the destruction of our garden, and the increased traffic and congestion, this development will contradict that goal.”

The tenants were joined at the rally by a group of striking workers from the Sheraton Vancouver Airport hotel, another property owned and managed by Larco. The crowd protested in front of City Hall’s south entrance, chanting slogans against the rezoning. Some held signs that read “Seniors Deserve Dignity!”, “No Deals for Larco!”, “Protect Our Green Spaces!”, among others.

Russ Jamieson, one of the Sheraton strikers, spoke for the group of workers: “We know how Larco works. We know how little respect they give to their employees.  We are here to provide support to our tenant allies, who need all the help they can get against a company that does not care about working people. The tenants have raised some very serious concerns about this rezoning. For the sake of these seniors, and working people everywhere in Vancouver, we hope City Council will listen.”

Contact: Nate Holers, 250-889-7682, campaigns@unitehere40.com

 

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