UPDATE: New West responds to tenant’s appeal for assistance from city-initiated evictions

The City of New Westminster is giving the owners of a Brow of the Hill building more time to explore options for addressing life-safety issues related the residence – but evictions still aren’t out of the question for two tenants.

Tracy-Ann Beyer recently appeared before city council to voice concern that the city has ordered her landlord to evict her and another tenant from a building at 1402 Sixth Ave. Beyer said a lack of affordable housing within her budget is putting her at a “very real” risk of becoming homeless.

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“I will have to leave New West,” said Beyer, who has lived in the city her whole life. “The affordable housing stock is minimal.”

According to Beyer, her building has four one-bedroom units, one two-bedroom unit and a bachelor suite. At the Aug. 26 council meeting, she said tenants include three refugee families, one working tenant and two tenants, including herself, who are on disability.

“I have lived at this residence for seven years and nothing has ever been cited regarding the safety concerns of the units by the New West fire department when doing their previous inspections, until this spring when a bylaw officer accompanied the New West fire department,” she told council. “We were then informed that our units were deemed unsafe and also unauthorized. The city mandated that the landlord serve us with a four-month eviction notice on the grounds that the zoning only permits four units rather than six.”

Beyers asked the city to allow the landlord to continue providing housing while the two impacted units are being brought up to code. She also asked the city to take steps to rescind the eviction order until the two tenants impacted by the order are able to find alternative housing.

Emilie Adin, the city’s director of development services, said the eviction is based on safety concerns. The Sixth Avenue property is a legally non-conforming fourplex, which also contains two additional unauthorized units.

“In spring 2019 the New Westminster Fire Department identified serious life-safety issues in the two unauthorized units and issued notices of violations to vacate the units,” she said. “The owner of the building complied with the notices and issued notices to end tenancy.”

On Sept. 9, council directed staff to not enforce the notices of violation (NOV) that had been issued by the fire department for an additional 120 days, so the property owner has more time to explore options. The fire department issued three notices of violations between mid-April 2019 and early August 2019.
“Following receipt of the NOVs, city staff identified for the owner several options to correct the deficiencies,” said a Sept. 9 staff report to council “These included options which would ultimately allow the existing tenants to continue to occupy their current units. The property owner elected to issues notices to end tenancy to the tenants in Unit 3 and Unit 4 for decommissioning of the units for life-safety reasons consistent with the Residential Tenancy Act.”

The report stated that council’s decision not to enforce the notice of evictions for an additional 120 days doesn’t preclude them from continuing to pursue evictions of Unit 3 and Unit 4 by Sept. 30. It said the matter of tenancy beyond Sept. 30 is one between the tenants, the owner, and possibly the Residential Tenancy Branch.

According to a staff report, the residence doesn’t comply with a number of requirements, including the B.C. Fire Code and Fire Protection Bylaw, the zoning bylaw and official community plan bylaw, and the B.C. Building Code and Building Bylaw.

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