On Monday, March 19, current and former tenants of Richard Watson Court, 577 East 8th Avenue, gathered for a press conference on the sidewalk outside their building. Of the approximately 50 people who lived in the building last year, only four remain.
When Richard Watson Court was built in 1983, all of its 39 suites were constructed with accessibility in mind, and 9 were specifically designed for wheelchair and scooter use: lower-set stoves and sinks, wheel-in showers, and five-walled bedrooms, allowing for easier movement around a bed. The property’s mortgage was held by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation until 2006, when it was transferred to BC Housing; up until that transfer, the building was managed by the Voice of the Cerebral Palsied. According to Tristan Markle of the Vancouver Renters’ Union, the building was then neglected under BC Housing’s management. Before the building was sold to a private developer in November 2011, the balconies were rotted and tenants were ordered to stay clear of them.