Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


The former Portland Hotel which was located atop the Rainbow Hotel at the corner of Carrall and Hastings streets, today, reopened with a bang. It has taken on a new name, the Pennsylvania Hotel, which it had been called in earlier times.

One reporter was so excited over the opening that he lavished significant praise calling it the Historic Pennsylvania Hotel but how that reporter could make that claim is perplexing.

The restoration though on the Hotel Pennsylvania is impressive and it should be considering it cost the taxpayers $14 million dollars.

The hotel will house about 43 tenants with chronic drug addictions, mental health and other social impairment needs. The cost though, some speculate is good value since each unit which is approximately 250 square feet has its own bathroom and tiny kitchenette.

The gushing reporter calls them studios but that is quite misleading since the hotel is a Single Room Occupancy (SRO).

The Pennsylvania received a City of Vancouver grant of $50,000 to install a rather large and luminous new neon sign. The grant came from the Great Beginnings fund which says its purpose is earmarking funds in the Oldtown area for various groups to spruce up properties in time for the 2010 Olympics.

The Hotel from the outside looks pretty grand and on outward appearance alone looks like it could house financially comfortable people. In this regard at least there will be less likelihood of stigma attached with living there and that is good for the tenants. Now if only the drug traffickers were not right outside their rooms.

Speaking of the Downtown Eastside and its ongoing drug woes, word now comes that the Vancouver Women's Health Collective is planning on opening across the street from the Portland Hotel, a woman-only-from-birth Pharmacy (likely another methadone clinic) and it too will be receiving funds from the public. But that is another story.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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