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