One of the last remaining tenants of the Royal Hotel in Fernie has alleged the new owners are attempting to make the building unsafe in a bid to force him out.
Richard Leeks, who has lived in the Royal Hotel since September 2019 posted a video online of the havoc that has been wrecked on the residences on the top floor of the historic building.
“I think right at this moment they’re probably trying to make it unsafe and have it deemed unsafe so that by the time I get to my hearing I won’t even be able to be there…that’s my worry, I don’t have any proof of that,” said Leeks.
Personnel directed by the new owners, a group of businessmen from Alberta, have allegedly removed the doors, the washer and dryer, all base heaters on Leek’s floor including the one in his room, all kitchen appliances other than the sink, and have halted access to running water in the kitchen. According to Leeks, his internet access was also severed, and he is now forced to use WiFi from the businesses located below his apartment.
Leeks also alleged that he was given no notice that any of the above removals were to take place.
Leeks had been originally given notice to vacate on Nov. 1 because the new owners reportedly wanted to carry out extensive renovations. Leeks alleged that the notice to evict however was illegitimate, given BC tenancy laws force landlords to have all permits and applications already in-hand before they can end leases and evict tenants to proceed with works.
Leeks, who has previously said there is nowhere else for him to live given the tight housing market in Fernie, has said he’s afraid of being made homeless. Despite him having bought a camper truck as means of emergency housing, he still has not been able to find alternate accommodation.
“No one is willing to step up to take any responsibility, so the tenancy board tells me to go here, the BC WorkSafe tells me to go to the tenancy board, the police say they can’t do anything because this is a civil matter, the tenancy board has no enforcement method at all – so there is no one that seems to have any responsibility to hold (the owners) accountable or is willing to take responsibility to hold them accountable in any manner.”
The owners, who have not responded to any requests for comment from this newspaper, did not have any permits issued to carry out work when this story was first published on Oct. 9 nor when it was followed up on Nov. 7. The City of Fernie has confirmed that no work or building permits have been issued since.