Coun­cil yanks room­ing house’s busi­ness li­cence

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Ci­ti­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

City coun­cil voted unan­i­mously Wed­nes­day to pull the busi­ness li­cence for a down­town room­ing house af­ter hear­ing con­cerns about safety and crime at the build­ing dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing on the is­sue.

The sus­pen­sion for the Lo­tus B&B Ho­tel at 197 Que­bec St. will come into ef­fect on Aug. 1 and last for six months but could be longer – or shorter – de­pend­ing on how quickly owner David Par­mar brings the build­ing into com­pli­ance with var­i­ous safety and crime pre­ven­tion mea­sures.

Since Par­mar’s SPD En­ter­prises Ltd. took over own­er­ship in May 2018, Prince Ge­orge Fire Res­cue and Prince Ge­orge RCMP have re­sponded to a sig­nif­i­cantly higher num­ber of calls to the spot.

While all of PGFR’s calls turned out to be false alarms or mi­nor in­ci­dents re­lated to smoke alarms, ev­i­dence pre­sented to coun­cil in­cluded a photo of a ground floor door chained and bolted shut from the in­side.

Par­mar said the move was made to keep out trou­ble mak­ers and that he could open the door in less than 30 sec­onds. But PGFR fire pre­ven­tion Lt. Ian Provan said that still falls well short of the fire code re­quire­ment that it can be opened im­me­di­ately.

It was a par­tic­u­lar point of con­cern for coun­cil mem­bers.

“You have to be able to push the door open in the case of a fire be­cause peo­ple do not exit or­derly in a fire, they will panic,” Coun. Murry Krause said.

Par­mar said he has since re­moved the chain and has or­dered new doors.

Prince Ge­orge RCMP Insp. Shaun Wright said the site has be­come a “ground zero” gath­er­ing place for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

City by­law ser­vices man­ager Fred Crit­te­don said it has be­come a “hot spot” for the down­town en­force­ment team and noted other run-ins with Par­mar over the state of other prop­er­ties he owns in the city.

Par­mar asked coun­cil to limit the sus­pen­sion to two months, say­ing he is in the process of bring­ing the build­ing up to com­pli­ance with the aim of mak­ing it suit­able for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents by Septem­ber.

The com­ment raised alarm bells for city lawyer Troy De Souza.

“If coun­cil were to grant a two-month sus­pen­sion, and you start get­ting in­ter­na­tional stu­dents com­ing in Septem­ber to his prop­erty, it will be an in­ter­na­tional black eye,” he said.

Coun­cil, mean­while, en­ter­tained dou­bling the sus­pen­sion to one year but even­tu­ally backed away out of a con­cern for low in­come peo­ple in need of hous­ing.

Par­mar said as many as 30 peo­ple lived in the build­ing but it has since de­clined to 17 or 18 since he is­sued 30 days no­tice to have ev­ery­one out by the end of June.

How­ever, it ap­peared Par­mar failed to fol­low the process cor­rectly and so coun­cil agreed to de­lay the sus­pen­sion by an­other 30 days, so no­tice can be pro­vided in a proper man­ner.

Also on Wed­nes­day, coun­cil agreed to back away from sus­pend­ing the busi­ness li­cence for a room­ing house at 2108 Ta­ma­rack St. af­ter the owner, Pre­mier Choice In­vest­ments Ltd. took im­me­di­ate steps to meet con­di­tions im­posed by the city and RCMP.

They in­clude hav­ing round-the-clock se­cu­rity and a se­cu­rity cam­era sys­tem with at least 30 days stor­age.

Pre­mier Choice also pro­vided a busi­ness plan de­tail­ing staffing and op­er­a­tional changes.

A six month sus­pen­sion had been is­sued in late April in an­swer to a con­tin­ual rise in the num­ber of calls to the lo­ca­tion for the RCMP. But since the steps were taken, RCMP at­ten­dance has de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly, coun­cil was told.

The lo­ca­tion re­mains sub­ject to re­views by by­law ser­vices and the RCMP ev­ery six months for two years start­ing in Jan­uary 2020. Pre­mier Choice must also pro­vide an­nual re­ports re­gard­ing the suc­cess of the busi­ness plan, where im­prove­ments can be made and out­lin­ing any changes.

CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

City coun­cil voted to re­voke the busi­ness li­cence of the Lo­tus B&B Ho­tel , lo­cated at 197 Que­bec St., dur­ing a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

City coun­cil de­cided against strip­ping the busi­ness li­cence from a board­ing house at 2108 Ta­ma­rack St., owned by Pre­mier Choice In­vest­ments Ltd.

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