The council may approve the expropriation at the amount of $1 for each building. The legal counsel for the Balmoral, Evan Cooke, spoke first at the hearing. He cites that several prospective buyers offering to pay a price of up to 20 million on an ‘As is, Where is’ basis, where the only condition that the City of Vancouver withdraws its expropriation.
“The [owners] have only asked that they been treated fairly in the process and that they be paid market value,” says Cooke. “I can’t imagine what would better evidence of market value than a series of arms’ length offers.” -Evan Cooke, Balmoral legal counsellor
Councillor Colleen Hardwick posed a question to Cooke about how unresponsive the Sahotas were to previous offers to buy. Cooke said that the Sahotas neglected to entertain those offers because they were not aware that expropriation would be the next step.
Sam Dharamapala, a former staff member of the Sahota family, will speak before council alleging landlord mismanagement and dishonesty. He tells BCIT News that he worked for the Sahotas for ten years.
“My experience with Sahota is that he is somebody who is unfixable. This building is also unfixable,” says Dharamapala. “This is not something that is challenging landlord rights, but this is challenging landlords who don’t care.” -Sam Dharamapala, former member of the Sahota family
Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart has previously stated that he is in favour of the expropriation. The council will not announce a decision until all speakers are heard.