Controversial DTES landlord a no-show in court
Allan Fowler was an ex-tenant of the Palace Hotel. Formerly owned by landlord George Wolsey, it and the Wonder Rooms (pictured) faced numerous violations (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
Controversial former Downtown Eastside landlord George Wolsey was a no-show in provincial court Monday as 10 former tenants wait for the $18,163.75 he owes them from a court judgment.
The hearing was able to proceed Monday, with Wolsey — former owner of the Palace and Wonder Rooms hotels and a banned pharmacist — insisting through his lawyer that he is unable to pay the amount ordered in a previous trial.
“The money's gotta be somewhere, cause he's got a lawyer,” said former tenant Allan Fowler outside the courthouse. “Obviously he's got some money.”
The 48-year-old said he rented a room from Wolsey between 2010-2011, suffering “threats of evictions and bad conditions.” Fowler said he is now just happy to see his former landlord dragged through the courts, even if the money he owes is slow to arrive.
“The money don't mean that much,” Fowler said. “At least he's in court now.”
Wolsey's lawyer Daniel Barker said his 60-year-old client was unable to attend court because he is in Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster “undergoing an emergency MRI” after he fell down over the weekend. He dismissed speculation that Wolsey is avoiding justice, citing appearances in October and March.
“He gave evidence as to his ability to pay,” Barker said.
Wolsey was ordered to compensate his ex-tenants in two single-resident occupancy hotels for enduring insect infestation, no plumbing and other substandard conditions. Some of the tenants were evicted illegally, said Pivot Legal Society, which represents them. He faced an arrest warrant for failing to comply with the court order.
Pivot lawyer D.J. Larkin said she has proof he is able to pay up, and not in poverty as he previously claimed.
“It's our intention to bring evidence for the creditors indicating that we think he can pay,” she said.