Protesters planned marches Tuesday in downtown Vancouver as President Donald Trump’s two eldest sons attended the grand opening of their company’s new hotel and condominium tower in a city known for diversity and progressive politics.
Security officers in black suits surrounded the building’s entrance while police gathered on sidewalks at the soaring tower, which has drawn praise for its sleek design but has raised ethical concerns about the business interests of the new U.S. president. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and other city officials chose not to attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s policies on immigration and other matters.
“The name Trump has now become synonymous not with luxury and lifestyle, but with racism, sexism and intolerance,” City Councilman Kerry Jang said.
Constable Jason Doucette said Monday that authorities expected “a number of marches” downtown throughout the day and police would ensure things remained under control.
The anti-Trump protests were set to take place outside the building while brothers Donald Jr. and Eric Trump attend opening events inside. Early Tuesday morning, several protesters crowded the building’s entrance, including Henry Ho, who brought signs with messages that included “Dump Trump,” ”Is it 2020 yet?” and “Love Trumps Hate.”
“I believe a president should be at his core a good person,” the Vancouver resident said. “I don’t feel like that comes from Donald Trump.”
While the Trump-branded tower is a source of anger for many, the new hotel and its namesake do have some support in the region.
“President and hotel owner are two different things. If he can separate the two, all the power to him,” said Joe Taylor, a resident of British Columbia. “At least he’s got the nerve to say what’s on his mind. If people don’t like it, well, they’re not used to that.”
A Trump Organization tweet late Monday said the 69-story tower will be “the first property to open in the city” in over six years. But the city’s former planning director, Brent Toderian, said that wasn’t true.
“I’m the former chief planner for #Vancouver. That’s so far from being true, it’s laughable,” Brent Toderian tweeted.
Located along an upscale six-lane downtown thoroughfare, the tower is the second-tallest in Vancouver and offers majestic mountain and ocean views. A one-bedroom apartment, at 699 square feet, starts around $1 million and the average 1,153-square-foot two-bedroom condo went for $1.7 million but has since gone up. Hotel rooms in the slow season start at around $228 ($300 Canadian).
The building’s Malaysian developer, Joo Kim Tiah, said he was “extremely stressed” after Trump entered politics well after he signed the partnership agreement with the Trump organization.
“I was terrified,” Joo Kim of the Canada-based Holborn Development company told the Associated Press. “The people who ran the city were not happy with me. I was scared, but I think they understand. They understand that I’m trapped into – not trapped, locked into – an agreement.”
The chief White House ethics lawyers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have criticized Trump’s turning over control of his business to his sons, saying it does not eliminate potential conflicts of interest. Legal experts also say Trump’s overseas businesses could violate the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. constitution, which bars public officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments or companies they control without the consent of Congress. A liberal-funded watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against Trump citing the clause.