It’s been on the City of Vancouver’s radar for years for illegally operating as a hotel, but CKNW’s ongoing investigation into illegal short-term rentals in Vancouver has discovered the Carmana Plaza continues to flout the law without penalty.
Carmana Plaza gained attention back in 2015, when – after six years of running 12 floors of its rental building as a hotel – it finally applied for rezoning.
Ninety-six of its units were given the green light last year, but CKNW has learned, it still does not have the appropriate building/occupancy permits or hotel license.
Yet it continues to operate as a hotel, offering online bookings through various travel websites for stays less than 30 days.
After CKNW raised questions, the City of Vancouver followed up.
Director of Licensing Kathryn Holm says work is now being done to fix the problem. She says they’ve reached out to Carmana Plaza, which says it will stop renting units short-term.
“We’re continuing to work with them to get them through the process at this point to ensure they fully understand and participate in the necessary next steps to complete the conversion for these suites being suitable for hotel use.”
But are penalties being handed out? Holm says no.
“The City is looking to work in partnership with Carmana Plaza to complete the process that they started. We appreciate they went through the process to change the zoning to appropriately convert the suites to be hotel use, and we want to appropriately work with them to complete that process.”
Holm says Carmana Plaza has assured the city it will stop offering illegal short-term rentals, but a search online shows suites at Carmana are being offered for around $300 a night for the upcoming weekend, even without a minimum 30-day stay.
Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs says the staff have not been ignoring the issue, but don’t have the tools to monitor buildings like this constantly.
“This organization applied for rezoning and we have been following the case. If they continue to violate the permits, those will be followed up on as well. But they have worked to come into compliance. I’m not making any statement about what their history has been, or denying there’s been any problems at all.”
Meggs says the city’s approach is to bring building’s into compliance with rules, so they don’t negatively impact the people who do live there long-term or have existing reservations.
General Manager of Buildings and Licensing Kaye Krishna says the city is trying to work with Carmana.
“When we asked them to stop, and they said that they would consider it, it looks like you guys have discovered and we followed up as well, that it’s unclear that they’ve stopped. We absolutely will pursue escalated enforcement with them which could include prosecution if they do not stop running short-term rentals.”
Krishna was a guest on CKNW’s Steele and Drex.