Renovictions in Kits – who’s side are you on?


The West Ender’s Jackie Wong is giving some Kitsilano residents a voice to air their grievances regarding their upcoming evictions. And of course, Mel Lehan is stirring it up as well.

Patryk Drozd, Chris Lyne and Patrick Renard.

Drozd, Lyne and Renard.

Two retired police officers are currently facilitating the evacuation of tenants from their Kitsilano apartments, at West 4th Avenue and Trafalgar Street, to make way for major building renovations. Former officers Moe Coll and Don MacPhearson operate as MoMac Consulting Ltd., which, among other tasks, acts as a third-party mediator between tenants and landlords. “MoMac Consulting Ltd… offers property owners and landlords assistance in handling problem tenants, property management, rental negotiations and security,” reads the company website. “We offer a unique and valuable service to clients in negotiating additional rent increases.”

In an interview with WE, MacPhearson, MoMac’s director, denied similarities between what his company does and the renovation-related evictions — which have come to be known as “renovictions” — that have taken place in the West End. “You hear about incidences in the West End of evicting tenants for doing minor repairs on apartments,” he says. “This is not happening in this case.”

To help persuade tenants to move out of the 12-suite apartment complex at 1955 Trafalgar Street, above the Quattro on Fourth restaurant, MoMac offered them two months’ rent in compensation, plus the return of security deposits and an offer to help with their moving. Letters and information packages were issued to tenants on February 19.

“It’s interesting to note that nine [suites] of the 12 have already moved out, and seven have asked to come back,” says MacPhearson.

The renovations — which include the installation of new flooring and cabinetry, new bathrooms, dishwashers, kitchen appliances, and a refurbished outdoor courtyard — will take four to six months to complete. “Whatever the going rate is for that area, and I don’t know what that is, I would assume that for a two-bedroom, fully renovated suite up there, you’re probably looking at $1,700 [to] $1,800,” says MacPhearson.

Some tenants say the new rates will be unaffordable for them. Patryk Drozd lives next door to roommates Chris Lyne and Patrick Renard. They pay about $1,000 per month for their two-bedroom suites, and are disputing what they believe is an unfair eviction. The three have scheduled an arbitration date with the Residential Tenancy Office for April 29.

“They were selling us on the idea that this was a demolition,” says Lyne of his dealings with MoMac. Lyne showed the eviction package to a contractor friend, who told him the proposed renovations could be carried out without tenants having to vacate their suites. “If I owned my house and I want to put in a new bathroom, I don’t move into a hotel for a month,” Lyne says.

MacPhearson contends the renovations will be extensive enough that the suites will be inaccessible, and that the arbitrating tenants are playing political games. NDP provincial candidates Jenny Kwan and Mel Lehan have offered their support to the Trafalgar tenants, and the BC NDP’s party platform calls for closing loopholes in the Residential Tenancy Act that allow such evictions to take place. “These guys are stirring it up because it’s a political issue right now,” says MacPhearson. “They’re taking the media down a road that I don’t think the media would want to go down.”

“I don’t think anyone should be in the situation that the people at 1955 Trafalgar are in,” says Lehan. “You live somewhere for 15 years, then all of a sudden, boom! One day, at the whim of a landlord who’s greedy, you get evicted.”

Last modified: April 16, 2009

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