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Winters Hotel deaths: Coroner’s inquest date, time and location confirmed

The inquest is scheduled to take place in Metrotown in January 2024

The BC Coroners Service announced on Nov. 29 that an inquest will take place to investigate the deaths of two people that occurred during the Winters Hotel fire on April 11, 2022. The Winters Hotel was a single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel in Vancouver run by Atira Property Management. Two people died during the fire, Mary Ann Garlow and Dennis James Guay. The inquest into their deaths will take place on Jan. 22, 2024 and will be streamed live online. 

According to the statement, released on Nov. 29, “The deaths of Garlow, 63, and Guay, 53, were reported to the BC Coroners Service on April 22, 2022.”  

The statement added that presiding coroner John Knox and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding these deaths. The jury will then make recommendations “aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances,” the statement said. 

The fire was among many issues that came to light throughout the past year about Atira’s management and working conditions. Earlier this year, Atira staff members unionized and started a campaign for better working conditions and compensation. Safety, the high employee turnover rate, and a definition of their roles and responsibilities are some of the issues on the table for discussion. 

Kari Michaels, executive vice president of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) spoke to the Beacon on behalf of unionized Atira workers saying, “The workers at Atira want to support having a more transparent organization to ensure that the buildings are safe for them and for the people that live in them, by being united in the community health agreement to work together with other workers in the supportive housing agencies in the Lower Mainland, who are facing similar issues and to be able to advocate for improvement.” 

According to Michaels, Atira is one of the largest providers of supportive housing in the Lower Mainland with over 500 employees and it receives more government funding than other supportive housing providers.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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