Hotel manager says his industry is not the solution for housing homeless during pandemic
VICTORIA -- After the City of Victoria called on the B.C. government to take over empty hotels and motels for shelter for the city’s homeless population, one hotel manager is voicing his concerns.
When Days Inn general manager Darryl Wilson heard Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ announcement Thursday, he was concerned.
“We need to have individuals who are able to responsibly and safely occupy a hotel room,” said Wilson. “We still have other hotel guests staying in the hotel, we have staff on-site, and we need to protect their safety as well as our property and our neighbours.”
Staff working at Days Inn have approached Wilson to express their apprehension about homeless people potentially living at the hotel.
“Many of our staff has expressed concern that they won’t feel safe or comfortable if we were to take in the homeless,” he said.
Helps acknowledged that hotel and motel operators may have concerns when announcing the city council’s call for the province to requisition the properties. She said the city has also offered its own facilities, including recreation centres, as possible housing for those living outdoors during the pandemic.
“I don’t care how it happens, just get people inside,” Helps said at a briefing Thursday.
Wilson said the hotel industry is not equipped to deal with the needs of those living on the streets.
“We understand the needs of the city’s vulnerable population, but we don’t feel hotels are an adequate solution for that because we simply don’t have the resources or infrastructure to support such scenarios,” said Wilson.
The only way he believes the situation could be successful is if the government took over an entire property.
“They took on the support, staffing and security and they would need to provide some sort of financial guarantee that they would restore the property to its original state,” he said.
Wilson said his industry has offered health-care professionals and people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t show any symptoms rooms at the hotels.
Helps said 196 rooms have been acquired after BC Housing contacted 25 motels and hotels across the city to try to voluntarily secure sheltering.