Connaught Business License Pulled for 3 Months
RCMP Superintendent Warren Brown offers evidence at hearing – photo 250News
Prince George, B.C. – After three hours of witnesses, and cross examination, Council has unanimously supported maintaining the 3 month suspension of the business license for the Connaught Motor Inn.The license suspension is to take effect July 1st . That means monthly tenants ( about 9) will be served a months notice on June 1st, advising they will have to find a new home by July 1st.
The hotel sits at the corner of 15th and Victoria in downtown Prince George, a major intersection, and while the property owners tried to convince Council the problems were being brought on to the property by trespassers making their way from a nearby liquor store to other locations, Prince George RCMP Superintendent Warren Brown dispelled that thought saying the hotel was the “hub” of illegal activity from stolen property to drug trafficking and prostitution. It accounted for more than 600 calls for service over the past four years, and numerous other stops by police who were trying to be proactive in their crime investigations.
At a hearing this morning where the owners were appealing a 3 month suspension of their business license, the owners of the property said they were surprised to hear the property had been a regular hot spot for police activity and told Council they have plans to address the issues outlined in the letter they received in January of this year.
Property owner Joe Carhoun told Council they would have acted sooner, but it was winter when they were first made aware of the issues and, according to Carhoun who lives in the lower mainland, the Fraser Canyon is often closed in the winter making it impossible to get crews to Prince George.
At one point, owner Joe Carhoun posed a question to RCMP Superintendant Warren Brown about how to battle the criminal activity at the site “If you were me, what would you do?” asked Carhoun. Supt. Brown was quick to reply “If I were you, we wouldn’t be here.”
Superintendent Brown also said to Carhoun “I think you have been willfully blind in the way you have run your hotel.” Carhoun responded with “You’re right, but not willfully.”
The Carhouns told Council they have secured the financing to make the necessary repairs and upgrades, and have a tenant who wants to run the restaurant but is reluctant to do so pending the outcome of the hearing. Joe Carhoun said the loss of that tenant could mean the loss of about 30 jobs. He also said the whole ( business license suspension appeal) process has been “ram rodded down our throats” that they didn’t have enough time to prepare their case. But Counsel for the City noted that since the first letter was sent to the owners in January advising of the issues that needed to be dealt with, there has not been one building permit issued or an application for a permit filed. The Carhouns were advised April 8th that their business license would be suspended , pending appeal.
The Carhouns also told Council they plan to put a fence around the property and a gate that will be locked at night to keep unregistered guests from entering the premises after 10:30 at night. They also promised cameras a security system and security guards. But Council didn’t buy the promises.
Councillor Brian Skakun said the owners would have been better to not even show up for this morning’s appeal because much of what they had to say was , in his opinion, “garbage”.
Councillor Terri McConnachie says “claims of ignorance of the problems with this property have fallen on my deaf ears” then added ” The owners have continued to provide crappy accommodation to people they claim to be victim of.”
Mayor Lyn Hall said he recently went on an RCMP ride-along which took him to the Connaught “I found it very, very interesting, I found I was disheartened, disappointed in what I saw because it was people of our community staying in that location with folks that were homeless, in distress, drug abuse problems, and we just took a drive through and I really had my eyes opened, it was heartbreaking, disappointing, and as we went through today’s hearing, I couldn’t help but think of that ”
The list of issues for the owners of the Connaught to address is long and fall within 2 timelines:
The business license will not be reinstated until all of the issues have been addressed.
it has been well over a year since the City suspended the business license for the Willow Inn ( formerly the Homeland, or Ranch) motel on Victoria. That building has not yet satisfied the conditions set for it to resume business.