The former owner of a 15-bed illegal hostel in North Vancouver has been sentenced to 30 days in jail after a years-long legal battle involving a three-bedroom, five-story townhouse operated as a short-term rental known as Oasis. Hostel.
The saga featured resentful neighbors, multiple layers of bylaw violations, and centered on former owner Emily Yu.
Yu has been in and out of court for more than half a decade as the city of North Vancouver and its ranks have tried to get her to stop using her city home as a hostel, listed on sites like Airbnb, Booking.com and Trip Advisor.
In November 2020, Yu was arrested after trying to prevent potential buyers from viewing her townhouse despite a court order. She locked the entrance to the gate with padlocks. The court says she was argumentative and physically resistant.
In the summer of 2020, a judge ordered the sale of the townhouse to pay off more than $52,000 in legal fees Yu’s layers racked up trying to force the hostel to close.
She was found guilty of contempt of court without lawful excuse in April 2021.
“I am unable to find that her conviction in this matter served to demonstrate to her the seriousness of her conduct and her responsibility for it,” Provincial Court Judge Joanne Challenger said in her sentencing reasons.
“I find that Ms. Yu’s continued defiance was so willful and deliberate that a substantial period of incarceration is necessary to serve the need for reporting and general and specific deterrence.”
‘Escape from responsibility’
Throughout the sentencing proceedings, Challenger described Yu as unruly and resistant, adding that her behavior was “characterized by contempt for process and the rule of law.”
The court attempted to conduct a pre-sentence report with a psychiatric component to determine whether Yu’s actions and crime could be attributed to the disorder, but the document says Yu chose not to participate in the process.
During the trial, Yu claimed that she did not understand the court order due to her lack of English skills. The claim was dismissed by the court after it became clear in the proceedings that her speaking ability and comprehension were “fairly good”.
Yu argued that she was drunk or hungover and in the middle of a medical attack which led to her lapse in judgment and understanding when she disobeyed the court order. But the court found that those claims lacked evidence.
Challenger wrote that Yu would often be late for the session or not show up at all. But when the court ordered that she arrive on time as a condition of her release, punctuality was no longer an issue.
Yu also failed to turn off or silence her phone on multiple occasions. But when she was told the court would seize it if she didn’t shut up, the phone was no longer a problem.
“I conclude from this behavior that Ms. Yu is well capable of understanding instructions and changing her behavior when she sees that it is in her best interest to do so,” Challenger wrote.
“Despite her problems, whatever they were, she acted deliberately to avoid responsibility and said and did whatever she thought would best serve her purposes at the time.”
A letter of recommendation from a member of Yu’s church described her as smart and hardworking, but also said she was “reckless, overly ambitious, paranoid, troubled, stubborn and isolated.”
Despite the order to sell the home, Challenger noted that Yu still believed she was the rightful owner, returning to the property in the spring of 2021 and claiming she was only entitled to possession in mid-2022.
After her release from prison, Yu will face a one-year suspended sentence banning her from being within 100 meters of the former Oasis Hostel.