Beaufort Manager says he fears for his safety

Port Alberni

Beaufort Hotel Manager Aaron Mair contacted Ha-Shilth-Sa Jan. 14, a day after our story ran about the poor living conditions that residents of the hotel must to endure.

He said the delay in returning our calls to him was because he had to leave town after hearing of death threats against him following recent publicity.

“People are screaming racism,” he claimed. He said he took his wife and infant to the safety of a relative’s home outside of town.

“People are lying,” he charged. He claimed his wife was being slandered, and he believes one complainant, Nellie George, is riling up other tenants. He went on to criticize George for alleged disruptive behavior at the hotel.

Mair takes credit for making improvements to the hotel since he started working there. He claims to have been the one to arrange with the Ministry of Social Services for tenants to obtain heaters because the hotel’s heating system was disconnected in April last year because it was a fire hazard.

“You should have seen it before I got here,” said Mair.

He said he deals with a lot, living at the hotel. The resident manager says people are screaming in the halls all hours of the night and tenants will even bang on his door late at night wanting to bum a smoke.

Mair went on to complain about the abuses he and the building have suffered at the hands of the tenants, alleging they tear up $1,000 doors and steal light bulbs to sell for crack and meth.

Hot plates, he says, are not allowed in the rooms, yet everybody has them. When asked how tenants who call the rooms home are supposed to cook their food, he said they can use electric grills, frying pans or toaster ovens.

When reminded that all the tenants are low income and most can’t afford space heaters, let alone cooking appliances, he became noticeably agitated. In a raised voice he alleged the residents were all alcoholics or crack heads who “p**s” (squander) their money away on that stuff.

On Jan. 9 a man was stabbed on the steps of Beaufort Hotel. During his phone call with Ha-Shilth-Sa he angrily blamed the victim for what happened. Naming the man, he said, he “was mouthing off and got himself stabbed.”

The hotel, he admits, needs work and continues to improve under his management. Even so, he says, some of his tenants, whom he didn’t name, have approached him offering sympathy and saying they have had no part at all in the uproar at the Beaufort.

Despite his fear, Mair says he will continue to manage the hotel and was there on Jan. 14. He reports that ‘the place had been overrun with inspectors and social workers that week. The hotel’s notoriety increased since early January when media attention was focused on it.

When told that the Residential Tenancy Branch considers heat an essential service Mair responded by saying the Beaufort Hotel operates under the Hotel Keepers Act, and is therefore not required to supply heat to its guests.

“Under the Hotels Act you can rent out a room as is,” he maintains.

But the TRAC (Tenant Resource & Advisory Center) says otherwise. TRAC provides legal education and information about residential tenancy matters to tenants, community advocates and any other British Columbians who require this knowledge. They say, “Hotel tenants are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act if the hotel is the tenant’s primary residence.”

Tenents at the hotel rent their rooms on a month-to-month basis.

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