Opinion

Witch hunt reflections

Re: Joyce gets her ramp (Mirror, Jan. 2/13)

I respectfully suggest that the Mirror would be well-advised to fairly research the story that they seem to enjoy covering. While pursuing your “witch hunt,” let us remember there are two sides to every story.

Had you properly researched the documentation, you would have noticed that on two separate occasions we offered ground floor accommodation to Joyce Stewart, including painting the new unit and installing new carpets, while continuing to keep her monthly rent payments (900 sq. feet, two bedroom at $490 per month), which is substantially lower than other tenants in the building, and significantly lower than other competitive facilities in Campbell River.

These offers were made with the best intentions for Ms. Stewart.

Unfortunately, one cannot just throw up a ramp as some have suggested. To do this correctly and safely, we need to first remove the front stairs of the building and a portion of the cement sidewalk, which would negate access and egress for all the tenants, for a period of approximately two weeks.

Plans, building permits, construction quotes are in the neighbourhood  of $40,000, plus taxes and borrowing costs make this a significant investment indeed.

We made what we consider as an honest business decision, given that we had put in excess of over $140,000 in building improvements since we took over ownership of the building four years ago.

Frankly, with the low rents we charge, there is little left over for improvements of this nature.

Most of our tenants are seniors who enjoy the community aspect we have tried to nurture.

Judging from the comments being made on this situation provincially, this is precedent setting and brings into question why Human Rights decisions supersede the BC Residential Tenancy Act and the Municipal Act.

We have diligently sought information and no where can we find that it is mandatory that apartment blocks are responsible for tenants’ medical requirements.

We are also concerned with the Human Rights Tribunal refusing to supply us with the transcripts of the proceedings and also the fact the tribunal appointed a QC lawyer to represent the claimant at no cost to her.

Frankly, we could not afford legal representation of this stature, thus we had to represent ourselves as best we could. The taxpayers might be interested to learn that the hearing was at Painter’s Lodge and covered two days.

There are those who now feel the BC Residential Tenancy Act is now rendered meaningless as a result of this precedent.

The bottom line could very well read: Thousands insist landlords to make physical adjustments to individual accommodations for health reasons.

It is painfully obvious that the Human Rights Commission in B.C. claims sovereignty over other provincial or federal ministries and does not include landlords; no matter how hard they try to be good landlords. Thus, we landlords no longer have rights to make prudent business decisions.

For the record, we are not allowed to speak with Ms. Stewart while our solicitor considers other options in this matter.

Alan Oakley,

Cedar Place Apartments

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