Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Cityviews Village tenant, Heather Bigcharles (holding sign), was one of a handful of speakers protesting the building owners’ practices. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)Cityviews Village tenant, Heather Bigcharles (holding sign), was one of a handful of speakers protesting the building owners’ practices. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Cityview Village tenants claim new landlords, Columbia Wealth Investments, are trying to come up with ways to evict low-income tenants, so they can refurbish apartments and charge more for rent. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)Cityview Village tenants claim new landlords, Columbia Wealth Investments, are trying to come up with ways to evict low-income tenants, so they can refurbish apartments and charge more for rent. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Housing advocate, Listen Chen, hosted the press conference in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)Housing advocate, Listen Chen, hosted the press conference in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Joyce Lachance is distraught after the landlords at Cityviews Village tried to evict her disabled son. Curtis Lachance, who has been living in the building for ten years, was served an eviction notice when his rent was accidentally paid late. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)Joyce Lachance is distraught after the landlords at Cityviews Village tried to evict her disabled son. Curtis Lachance, who has been living in the building for ten years, was served an eviction notice when his rent was accidentally paid late. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Cityviews Village was bought by Columbia Wealth Investments in September. (Ronan O’Doherty photo)Cityviews Village was bought by Columbia Wealth Investments in September. (Ronan O’Doherty photo)

A small group of tenants and their supporters gathered in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge on Tuesday afternoon to protest pressure tactics being used by new owners to rid the building of low-income renters.

The ralliers carried colourful signs, and gave a short press conference where they expressed frustration at the building’s new owners.

The three-story building was bought by the West Vancouver private investment firm Columbia Wealth Investments in September of 2020.

Resident Heather Bigcharles, who helped organize the gathering, said it is clear the owners are trying to get the tenants out of their suites.

“They’re making up violations, and giving [tenants] as many violation [notices] as they can to intimidate and scare them,” she said.

“I’m afraid of getting kicked out myself – I’ve gotten violations for ridiculous things such as painting my unit, when it was done prior to them taking over the building.”

READ MORE: Supportive housing residents protest guest ban

“They want everybody out, so they can raise the rent,” she continued.

“A lot of [the seniors who live here] have been grandfathered in, so they’re not paying much, and they can’t afford much.

“Myself, I can’t afford much either, being on disability.”

Bigcharles was one of four tenants who voiced their discontent with the building’s new management.

Joyce Lachance spoke on behalf of her son Curtis, who has been living at Cityviews Village in a bachelor apartment for 10 years.

He is living with a disability and his rent – which is set at $618 per month – is paid directly through welfare, she explained.

In October and November there was a mix-up with the payment of his rent, when the new owners took possession of the building. His welfare provider was not made aware of the change.

Lachance discovered her son had been served a notice of dispute resolution proceeding – direct request on Nov. 20.

She said she had no idea there was an issue with rent. She went straight to the welfare office, discovered the issue, had two new cheques issued, and hand delivered them to the building manager on Nov. 26.

Lachance said they were deposited.

But she found that in December Curtis was served with an order of possession over failure to pay rent, signifying he was to be evicted.

She said she feels as if her son has been taken advantage of, because he has a disability.

“He has been given all types of paperwork to fill in. I think they just want him out, so they can fix up the suite and let it out for higher rent,” Lachance said.

“I think they should back off, and let these people live here at the price they’re paying.”

Listen Chen, spokesperson for Red Braid Alliance, agreed with Lachance.

“The reason the landlord wants to get people out by any means necessary is because any time a tenant leaves, that’s a windfall for a landlord, whether or not it happened through a legal eviction or through intimidation,” Chen said.

“That’s the only way landlords can raise rents above the already-too-high permittable rent increase set by the B.C. government every year.”

Cityviews Village property manager Bill Mitsui said there have been some changes since CWI took over the building. The property management team joined several BC Housing programs, and instituted a “quit smoking program,” as well as an “assisted-living help program.”

“If people are trying to link building issues that we are trying to resolve with ‘low income’ people, they will need to think again about whether that is a proper way to categorize our people,” he said.

The property manager said the building was mismanaged in the past, and he is trying to make it a nicer place to live.

“As the current property manager, I’m not willing to let this 55-year-old building deteriorate any further,” he said.

“There are definitely issues in the building such as maintenance requests, crime issues, smoking issues, and health-and -safety issues, which need changes per se, but tagging these issues with low income people seems problematic and disrespectful to our people.”

He noted regulations are not based on color, race, income, or gender.

“New management might impact tenants with all levels of income,” he said.

“Unfortunately we don’t have enough knowledge of income level with most existing tenants, but the building has many decent and respectful tenants as far as I know.”

With regards to Curtis Lachance, Mitsui said the eviction order the company sent was due to non-payment, and noted the tenant had been served with multiple warnings regarding health and safety issues in his unit before Mitsui filed the order.

“This issue was not a mere simple eviction case, and we have not taken any further action since December 2020, and are waiting for the tenant, or his parents, to come to talk to us to find a resolution,” he said.

He argues he didn’t know Lachance had a mental health issue until hearing about it from an advocate for the tenant, and pointed out the building is, “not equipped to deal with mental health [issues].”

“None of our property managers were trained to handle mental health issues here in the building, and we are not licensed to deal with people who have mental health issues, but I hope we can help the tenant to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

HousingMaple Ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit Agassiz and beyond

The first in a three part series on dairy farming, palm oil and Canadian consumers

real estate sign
Chilliwack’s February real estate numbers show homes flying off the market

President of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board said he’s ‘never seen anything like it’

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School after a report of a bomb threat at Walnut Grove Secondary School on March 3, 2021. The school was safely evacuated. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: Bomb threat forces evacuation of Langley high school

Police asked the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

Most Read