City of Vancouver homeless advocate Judy Graves recalls her days working at the Balmoral as a housing inspector for the City of Vancouver in the 1990s.

Museum of Vancouver

© 2012, Museum of Vancouver. All Rights Reserved.


Transcript

NARRATOR
Formerly a hotel for tourists, the Balmoral Hotel changed with the
neighbourhood. City of Vancouver homeless advocate Judy Graves recalls her
days working at the Balmoral as a housing inspector for the City of Vancouver in
the 1990s.

JUDY GRAVES
I started actually getting to work inside the Balmoral Hotel, as part of team
inspections for the city, working with the tenants in the hotel. And at that time,
Balmoral probably scored number 1 or 2 as the worst hotel out of about 170 in
Vancouver.

NARRATOR
Judy remembers the deplorable housing conditions at the Balmoral in the ‘90s.
Since that time, Judy says the living conditions have improved dramatically after
a new manager started working at the hotel.

JUDY GRAVES
While you were working, you just wouldn’t think of learning your arm against the
wall, because the walls looked like they had wallpaper. And then you looked a
little bit more closely and then the wallpaper was moving like this. And all those
tiny dots were baby cockroaches, sort of walking.

And the stench of the Balmoral Hotel was like nothing else on earth.
It was rough at that time in the rooms. People who had other choices wouldn’t
live there.

And then about three years ago, they hired a new manager for the Balmoral, and
he has been very intentionally doing the work it took to turn it around.

NARRATOR
By Judy’s accounts, the Balmoral has improved significantly under the new
management. Despite its hard legacy, she is grateful for the Balmoral.

JUDY GRAVES
Well, I have been grateful for the hotel. And in fact, I have literally had
nightmares, woken up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, thinking there’d
been a fire and we’d have to evacuate the tenants from the Balmoral. Because
there’s 166 rooms. It’s a huge hotel. And if we had to evacuate 166 people,
we have nowhere to put them. And so, certainly grateful for the housing that’s
provided by the Balmoral.


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