DTES legal advocates unveil ‘wanted poster’ against ex-landlord 0
The unveiling of a "wanted poster" in relation to the arrest warrants issued by a judge Tuesday against George Wolsey. The former owner and landlord of the Wonder Rooms in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, B.C., Sept. 4, 2013. (KEVIN HILL/ 24 HOURS)
Former tenants of the Wonder Rooms in the Downtown Eastside fear “retaliation” despite arrest warrants granted against their ex-landlord George Wolsey on Tuesday.
Pivot Legal Society lawyer Douglas King unveiled a “wanted poster” Wednesday depicting Wolsey’s image, and had expected former tenants to appear alongside him at a press conference.
However, only a single former tenant, Stephen Fremen, showed up, and he was not one of the 10 involved in the latest legal action against Wolsey, who owes the tenants $18,163.
Fremen spent several months living at the 50 E. Cordova St. property and described a place infested with mice. Fremen said he was evicted when it was discovered he wasn’t using Wolsey’s nearby pharmacy to obtain methadone.
King said one former tenant, a blind woman, pulled her attendance at the poster unveiling after allegedly being approached the day before by a man who said he was aware of her action against Wolsey, and that she shouldn’t speak publicly.
Many former tenants, King said, have witnessed this type of tactic.
“This wanted poster is for the people who’ve endured the difficulties of living in the Wonder Rooms,” he said.
Danielle Larkin, another Pivot lawyer, said she’s aware of only a single case in the Lower Mainland in which the Residential Tenancy Branch took it upon itself to investigate a property’s violations — and that was in Surrey.
She said RTB-initiated investigations should be the standard, rather than having tenants — many of whom have low incomes and lack access to support — take up the fight themselves.
King added it’s now the responsibility of the court registry to serve Wolsey’s arrest warrant. Once it’s received, the ex-Wonder Rooms landlord would have seven days to turn himself in, or face arrest by B.C. court sheriffs.