Granville Street Turning Into Another Downtown Eastside

Vancouver’s most unsightly and problem-plagued area, Hastings/Main has developed its own “suburb” … Granville/Nelson/Smythe  … getting worse than ever ….  and no one  seems to be paying attention.

In fact, Vancouver Council is about to add more fuel to hasten the destruction.

A couple of Sundays ago, I had an eye-opening experience, when I had to head down to a store located on Granville Street, between Nelson and Smythe.

The area was absolutely filthy … and, frankly, a bit scary:   no other way to put it.

And that was at Noon!

Litter all over the sidewalks … papers, bottles, trash … and it looked like it had been growing there for some time; homeless people sitting  against lamp posts or in doorways of closed premises, with their belongings piled around them and beckoning paper cups in front of them…. some openly begging for money… and, as if on cue, a screaming fire vehicle and ambulance rushed by, stopping just up the block to assist someone in distress  … apparently such a common sight now, no one (except me) stopped or batted an eye.

THIS is the vision that now greets tourists strolling the area ….. NOT Hastings/Main …. but Vancouver’s primary north/south shopping avenue,  Granville street, right in the center of the city’s downtown core,  daytime on a Sunday.

I say tourists because I saw NO ONE  I could identify as Vancouver residents there to window-shop: only lots of people looking like they’ve fallen on hard times … and me: hurrying to get to  the place I needed to be … and then rush back to my car to get out of there .

Granville Street on a Sunday … even in the daytime …is NO PLACE to linger or enjoy!

I can only imagine what it is like after dark.

You may not notice it so much on weekdays … when thousands of people working in and servicing the office buildings and businesses downtown are around, grabbing lunch etc.

Let’s face it: it has been a very long time since Granville Street has been a major draw for local residents (except bar patrons in the evenings).  But I can’t recall ever seeing it as bad as it is now …. during the day … on the weekend.

And I expect it is going to get worse.

The Vision-dominated Vancouver Council has voted to build 120 “micro suites” in the parkade behind the Bosman Hotel at 1060 Howe Street, the block west of Granville.

Reports say the 250-sq. ft units will be “temporary” housing for those on income assistance and limited fixed incomes. In an area clearly already in social and economic distress.

This will be in addition to the SEVERAL existing facilities now established in the area to serve the homeless, disadvantaged , troubled and dysfunctional … all  within blocks of the city’s MAIN downtown core thoroughfare.

Sure looks to me like City Hall is deliberately giving up and encouraging the deterioration of the Granville Street downtown area to take pressure off the downtown eastside … which has gone even further downhill under Vision.

It is disgraceful that a City Council that has catered so generously to the elites of Point Grey Road; pampered the denizens of Coal Harbour and Yaletown; turned the West End into an almost inaccessible enclave with accompanying higher and higher rents;  and, allowed billionaire developers to destroy entire city blocks of homes and assemble huge areas for million dollar homes/townhouses/condos  …. destroying the city’s working-family housing stock and allowing the downtown’s core avenue to rot, when other cities are revitalizing theirs and encouraging families to move back.

There are no families I know who would now want to stroll or let their kids wander along Granville Street downtown … any more than they would want to do so near Hastings/Main.

Vancouver council has literally let Granville downtown go under.

And they got away  with it because Vancouver’s media themselves desert the downtown on weekends.

As I gaped at the disgrace that is now Granville Street, I couldn’t help but wonder when was the last time that any of Vancouver’s media have EVER been there on a weekend … seen what has happened …. and exposed the disgrace?

Have they seen it, but ignored it? Or, even worse, not even recognized the potential story?  Because it wasn’t presented to them in a press release or a photo-op?

Except for occasional night-life/taxi issues,  the media have relegate weekend “news” to stories presented on a platter … accidents, fires, crime, cruise ship puff pieces and, of course, ALL the various walks or runs or rides for any and every social/charity cause (stories that NO ONE watches or cares about … other than those participating in or benefitting from them!).

Granville Street downtown from Helmcken right up to Robson …  well on its way to becoming another Hastings/Main area … has been ignored.

Witnessed by our visitors …. but conveniently (and deliberately?) kept outside the  “vision” of most locals …  with both motorists and bike lane enthusiasts directed well away … routed to other streets by carefully planned traffic patterns.

Harv Oberfeld


(PS. You can hear me rant more on this topic  on Talk Digital Radio: )

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42 Responses to Granville Street Turning Into Another Downtown Eastside

  1. Dave Pasin says:

    Great article Harvey. What’s happened to Granville Street is actually happening all over the City. One only need take a trip down Commercial, Robson, Denman, Dunbar, parts of main and yes even Kerrisdale!

    The deterioration of neighbourhoods is happening all over the City at a pace that is unprecedented. One need only look at the block busting occurring on Cambie, Oak, Granville, 41st etc to see the future of the City.

    When we hear comments by people that “why should I pay higher rent to preserve a neighbourhoods character” become encouraged and fostered by certain people in power as part of their base and used as an excuse to redevelop for the good of the City, it seem to me we have truly lost our way.

    Successful city’s are just that because of their unique areas and neighbourhoods. Residents who like where they live and politicians recognition that you don’t need fictitious ‘affordable housing” hi rises and unfettered density and development. Preservation of the uniqueness of neighbourhoods is far more rewarding as it encourages local business, increased types of housing that are appropriate for communities. That’s how many a successful city grows in pride and stature and looks after its residents.

    Politicians who recognize the value of community where people know each other and connect with each other and foster redevelopment with that in mind. Not politicians that continually pander to developers and have a “we know best mentality” that pits residents against each other and panders to the development is good at all costs mentality.

    When residents lose connection with their community, one can readily see the consequences as businesses close, crime, poverty increase, lack of care and social isolation increases as does the breakdown of responsibility and pride for the area.

    The result… a city with unmatched natural beauty but in reality could well soon be plunked down anywhere as it increasingly lacks identity, community and pride.

    To paraphrase the old saying. “It must be a great place to live to survive the idiots running the place.”

    C’est dommage.

    (Response: Yes, I have noticed changes too in many areas: but NONE so concentrated and so forelorn as what has been allowed to fester and grow on Granville. I actually felt unsafe walking there …right on Vancouver’s MAIN north-south shopping avenue …during the day! And from everything I have personally witnessed there, Vision Council’s policies have made it this way ..and their latest decisions will make it even worse. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more retail spaces there soon close and at least one turned into a needle exchange location! h.o)

  2. Rainclouds says:

    Thank you for this.

    Every Day I walk along Robson from Cambie to Granville. Panhandlers and their nests with pets, cell phones, fishing lines with cups for money, set up both sides of the street two per block.Some beneath help wanted signs!

    Watched a young man hitting up yesterday at the entrance to the Stadium Train Stn at noon in full view of families/tourists.

    Vision puts the blame on the Liberal Govt for closing mental health beds and are probably correct HOWEVER first we need to quantify how many are in need of care and how many are making this an occupation.

    My Proposal, Have Police along with Mental health professionals start walking the beat interviewing those “street people” Many are simply taking the easy route, they need to be encouraged to move on. This canvass includes the ones working intersections at red lights.

    The ones in dire straights and who need assistance should be our priority.

    Ignoring the problem has made it worse. The scammers have filled the void of leadership.

    (Response: Panhandlers and homeless people are a great challenge for our society. In fact, I would even defend their right to sit on the sidewalk and even solicit help/cash as long as they do not interfere or intimidate others with aggressive./abusive behaviours. But the CITY has a responsibility to keep them clean, protect our streets, business’s right to operate stores etc on them and citizens’ rights to stroll/enjoy them. The FAILURE and LAXNESS of Vision on Hastings/Main area has made things even worse than ever before…to the point it is NOT a safe street anymore for ANYONE …even low income area residents to stroll or even pass through. h.o)

  3. Gene The Bean says:

    Harvey, this paragraph…

    “Have they seen it, but ignored it? Or, even worse, not even recognized the potential story? Because it wasn’t presented to them in a press release or a photo-op?…”

    Best describes why we still have a Liberal government……..

    I used to relish watching the news and I very much enjoyed your contributions, many water cooler conversations back in the day about you making people accountable….

    But now….hahahahaha, I may only watch ‘local’ news once a week.

    For as much as most people dislike them, Vision is smart – they just learned how to manipulate the media like the Liberals.

    Gordo said it to the party faithful late in the 1990’s…..”The power comes from controlling the message…..” He wasn’t the first to say it or do it but we live with that legacy every day.

    The DES will be slowly gentrified so those folks will go somewhere….and once Granville becomes too much of a nuisance, they will move again, but you know it wont be in a westward direction…..

    (Response: There are ALL KINDS of GREAT stories being missed … overlooked … and ignored regarding the deterioration of our city as a top place to live. Sure we get the occasional HIGH housing costs stories when a statistical report is released; or some tax or court case is handed out on a platter. But the media bosses should open up their eyes to what they themselves see all around them! Ever seen the HUGE land assembly that took place on Cambie south of 26th? I noticed it happening and tried to flog it to contacts in the media as a GREAT story or even series of stories: who was assembling them all? Was any zoning changed for them? What was the increase in market values by having subway stop opened right there? Did the City get fair compensation for any changes? Was there any commitment written in to provide social or mid income housing? I would have had a field day with those!!! NO ONE picked up on the idea(s) ..until neighbours complained publicly (news on a platter!) about how messy the sites had become, despite city bylaws … and even then, the “reporter” didn’t march straight into the developers’ offices (as I would have) camera rolling to demand WHY their offices were so fine and fancy while their properties were becoming slums! That’s not lack of staff or resources…it’s just BORING, BAD journalism: and they wonder why so many are turning off and away! What Vision Council has done in/around Granville Street between Helmcken and Robson could be a whole series: one story alone should list ALL the social services centre and homeless facilities etc. within blocks of our ONLY north south major shopping street etc.; why is it so filthy? how did the area get this way?; what do businesses say? have they brought the matter to the City’s attention? To who? What reaction? Is there any plan to revitalize it? How much has Council spent on this once major money making area ..compared to, say, bike lanes, Point Grey Road; the Burrard bridge changes, Edition Number Four or is it Five? Ooooh! Glad I’m retired: my blood pressure is going up!! h.)

  4. Relic57 says:

    In 1975, when I was a fresh-faced lad of 17, leaving North Vancouver and heading off to the big city for UBC, my main bus exchange was at Georgia and Granville. This was when bus fares were about 35 cents one zone, 65 two…and the old Birks building was still standing across the street…but I digress…anyway, it was a complete marvel to me that every day on that corner–and that corner only, it seemed–there were two or three individuals who actually…begged…for money. Never saw it before, anywhere. Not in North Van…not on Broadway…not on Commercial…that is, any place I was familiar with at the time.

    So it was a strange and exotic sight, something I’d heard about, seen on TV, but never before in real life. I remember one of them vividly–a tall and distinguished looking gentleman, dressed not too shabbily in dress pants and jacket, and an open collared shirt. He gave the impression of a European art dealer who had let himself go to seed a little. When he asked for money he would lean into you as if he were discreetly informing you of a social faux pas you’d just made. Then he’d turn away and ask someone else.

    That was it–three panhandlers in all Vancouver, all on the same street corner.

    Well…that’s what it seemed to my naive young self. There had to be many more. But relatively speaking, very few. That’s why the sight of panhandlers and rough sleepers everywhere else today remains so bizarre. It’s just not Vancouver–but then, what is Vancouver now?

    It’s not Vancouver, it’s not the seventies, it’s this alternate reality that overtook everybody when we weren’t looking.

    Without wanting to restate the obvious, it’s basically two things: economic inequality, and the complete exhaustion of the progressive, egalitarian spirit of the ‘Golden Age’ of the 50’s through ’70’s.

    Anybody of my generation or older I’ve talked to agree on one thing–we have one quarter the spending power we did thirty years ago. Is that news? Is that ever discussed? Is that ever a banner headline?

    The vast majority of people on the street are there because wages are meaningless, social programs are trashed, E.I. (I still want to call it U.I.) is virtually unobtainable, welfare has been practically criminalized, mental health programs reduced to shambles.

    The usual suspects like to say that the present generation is lazy and shiftless, but, as a relic of the 70’s, I can tell you that notion is ridiculous. MY generation was lazy and shiftless, but we could keep off the streets because of our great wages–for ANYTHING–and social programs generous enough to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.

    But that kind of progressive thinking–a century in the making–has been just swept away in the past thirty years. The grotesque pursuit of wealth would have been socially castigated in the previous generation–condemned in the media, scoffed at by the general public.

    Now…well…I don’t have to tell you….

    So that’s my take on the present shape of our streets–symptoms of the total collapse of so many things we took for granted and we’re once so proud of.

    But Harvey is right–here, and with so many other subjects, the media could play a critical role in rehabilitating society, but doesn’t.

    (by the way, your CAPTCHA code system is virtually impossible to penetrate. Are the letters and numbers together, separated, mix of the two…what…it’s about ten times now…)

    (Response: The Captcha code should be typed all together…no spaces between them. Seems to me the info you present could be a treasure trove for stories …even a series …if anyone had the ability/time/resources to do them …and I’d bet more people would watch those than the slumber-inducing … or channel-clicking ….pap that passes now for features. Sometimes even news! h.o)

  5. EllBee says:

    Harv, in relation to the issue of MSM and no stories about this along with so many others. I complained in writing to Global BC about a story and the misinformation that had been presented about a rally in Victoria. What had bothered me the most was the fact that a very nice man had done several interviews along with camera shots. When the report was run on the 6 pm slot, the report had been as usual edited for time etc, but to me the one main concern was that the “reporter” presenting the report hadn’t even been at the rally. There was no mention that it wasn’t her that had done any of the interviews or had not been there. Disclosure? She was glued to a chair in Burnaby. The reason I got from Global was disturbing. “We don’t have the resources for a full time reporter in Victoria.” Hello! The capital? No wonder fewer watch. On another note I did notice Baldrey hanging around. I suggested for what they are paying him he might have done a piece. But then, he’s never broken a story in his life.

  6. Jay Jones says:

    Oh gosh, that’s not good.

    We want visitors telling people that they had a spectacular time in world-class BC, not that they had a horrific time in weird-class BC.

  7. seven says:

    Harv @ Relic57

    “Seems to me the info you present could be a treasure trove for stories …even a series..”

    I was thinking the same thing. I am contemporary with Relic57, it is frustrating that the dream of Lotusland will die with us, likely without a whimper.

    As a young female I had the freedom of the city – walking from South-East Vancouver to Gastown, stopping at thrift stores along the way. I got what we called “hassled” by men, but nothing like I have experienced as a visitor now, from too many aggressive, hostile, vulgar and simply crazed panhandlers in the last decade and a bit more.

    I don’t understand why the people in power and in the media, who call Vancouver their “home-town” aren’t screaming about the destruction of a City that was beyond “liveable”. How do you preside over the destruction of beauty, calm and culture, in silence? If you don’t care about where you came from, it is obvious that you don’t care about where we are headed. And that is not looking good.

    (Response: You’re right on! If we don’t feel safe now walking on Granville Street downtown on weekends during the day … can’t imagine what it must be like after dark! h.o.)

  8. nonconfidencevote says:

    Interesting topic.
    I was also in that area Sunday afternoon and popped into an old “watering hole” for a few beers at Granville and Nelson. It had been almost 6 months.
    I worked at various office buildings on Howe St for over 20 years (Howe and Davie, Howe and Helcken, Howe and Smithe, Howe and Dunsmuir). I used to go to the Granville st pubs after work.
    My work moved to Burnaby.
    The non existant taxis after midnight curtailed my late night forays into inebriation..
    Now its the intimidating beggars and thieves on every corner.
    The seediness of Granville has been a downward spiral. Vomit stained sidewalks/bustops reminicent of some grotty Glaswegian ghetto.
    The well lubricated, T-shirted and tattoo’ed thugs wandering up and down spoiling for an opportunity to prove how “tough” they are.
    The constant cacaphony of emergency vehicles attending “calls” to either arrest or shuttle the latest victim to hospital ….doesnt foster a lot of neighborliness or “appeal” to tourists….. unless, of course, your a US teen allowed to drink “legally” for the first time in your life.

    Nah. Granville’s heyday came and went 40 years ago and the only thing that will change it may be skyrocketing housing prices/property taxes that render even the sleazy bars unaffordable.
    Gentrification and tougher vagrantcy laws might have worked but the ‘poverty pimps” at city hall will have none of it.

    (Response: How ironic that the City Council that claims to be so “green” is not only letting … but encouraging … the deterioration of city’s key downtown shopping area (Robson Street in the West End was NEVER intended/designed as the key shopping artery)…. when other progressive cities in the US and Europe are actively re-invigorating such areas. Looks to me like expanding “green” areas is the new metaphor in Vancouver for just promoting preferred and protected areas for the rich and very rich… while killing off the downtown retail area …and redirecting taxpayers to the suburbs the shop. h.o)

  9. e.a.f. says:

    The litter is there from the Saturday night before. The City isn’t going to pay o/t to clean the streets and the bar owners take no responsibility.

    Now as to the “beggars”, well its a tad crowded in the DTES so they move to where they might make a bit more money and the surrounds are more pleasant. it may not look like much to you but its better to some than the DTES.

    By “allowing” people to move up into this area, they don’t go into other areas, which might upset some of Vision’s supporters or those who like to keep the West End or Yaletown for themselves. This much I do know, if this moved in to the West End or the South Granville shopping area, it would end almost as soon as it started.

    Relic57 makes many good points. There were a lot more jobs and a lot of those jobs did not require a higher education. it was easier to find a place to live, i.e. a one bedroom in the west end went for $125.00 per month. Now entry level jobs paid approx. $250.00 per month, so usually young people shared one of these apartments. Now that would not be possible.

    The City is not going to do anything to change any of this. When they load all the social/affordable housing in one area, it keeps it out of other areas, which is what those living in those areas want.

    Don’t even think the City will put a small 6 unit supportive housing complex in Port Grey, or Kerrisdale, or any other upscale neighbourhood. those areas are reserved for the haves. They want it kept on the East side or better yet, ship it all out to Surrey.

    With all the millions spend in the DTES you would think it would have improved, but really it all looks the same to me.

    As income inequity and elitism continues to grow expect to see more sections of the city turned over to the have nots and the haves will stay in their areas. Neither the provincial government nor the civic governments are going to do anything about it.

    In the late 1960s early 1970s there were some very “interesting” bars on Granville St., i.e. the Blackstone and equally “interesting” bars on E. Hastings, but it was safer there back then than it is today.

    Saw an old documentary from back in the day on “Whistling Smith”. I didn’t agree with a lot of his methods, but he did know his beat and worked it.

    (Response: I think your third paragraph is spot on! It just could be a deliberate policy to protect the developers and rapidly-enriching investors and purchasers in other areas. And if that IS the plan … worked out secretly by politicians and planners behind closed doors …who would ever know …since the media barely covers city hall and/or investigating real city issues anymore … preferring puffery presented to them on platters. h.o.)

  10. Barry says:

    Back in the 70’s and 80’s I loved walking along Granville–except for the area around Helmekin. That part of Granville was always a tad seedy with all the hookers, bars and sex shops. One night I remember walking by a pub and almost getting hit by a patron who was thrown out the door.

    But yes, I’ve noticed the area from about the bridge to Smythe is getting worse. I first started seeing it when the Ciniplex theater closed. The building is still there and the foyer seems to be a magnet for every homeless panhandler and pot head looking for a place to hang. Most of them appear to young, healthy, able to hold a job as opposed to those with obvious mental illness problems.

    This isn’t over yet. Just wait if Vision gets its way, and turns the stretch of Robson in front of the art gallery into a year-round “public plaza.” My prediction: The average member of the public won’t want anything to do with the types of people who’ll hang out there…

    (Response: I have a name recommendation for that plaza: Pot Place. Because let’s face it, it may be a nice place for people who work in the area to spend weekday lunch time during nice weather …but the OVERWHELMING likelihood is that the crowd who will congregate, take over and spend MOST of the time just sitting there in the mornings, evenings, overnight and on weekends will be street people. Maybe that’s Vision’s vision for Vancouver’s downtown … somewhere for the Hastings/Main overflow of poor and disadvantaged to gather/concentrate … keeping them well away from the wealthy enclaves that surround the downtown. h.o)

  11. D. M. Johnston says:

    I was on lower Granville last November on a rather dark and wet afternoon and I too felt threatened by over zealous panhandlers, footpads and the listless homeless. As a 60 year old ex prop forward, I could not wait to get back into my car and get the hell out of there.

    I thought things were bad a decade ago when i ran business on Richards, with the smell of puke and fresh urine always fresh in the morning, but my brief sojourn last November confirmed that things are a lot worse.

    I avoid Vancouver like the plague and our friends from out of town now do the same.

    (Response: There’s a lot of talk about the high price of housing ….but the decline of the downtown could prove equally as damaging: if working middle class people don’t feel safe walking/shopping in their own downtown. why just shop in the suburbs when you can also live there … work in Vancouver if you have to …. and then get out, spending your time and money enriching municipalities with malls, lots of parking and cleaner shopping environment. h.o.)

  12. 13 says:

    The building of suburban malls was the begining of the end for Granville St. Then came the closure of road to traffic and the millions wasted on the pedestrian mall. I always marveled at a six lane bridge that ended in a pedestrian walkway. The theaters are all gone. The shoppers are gone. The crack a joke store gone.
    The media has given Gregor a free pass on his mismanagement of the city. Galius should be trying to drive down Point Grey road to put home and their owners on camera and shame them for the creation of that enclave. The news crews should then be camped all over the downtown core illustrating the damage that Vision has caused. They should be be allowing Bruce Allen to take viewers on a tour of downtown.
    Check out past tense blog or the Vancouver archives or Eve Lazarus lots of great photos and stories about the changes mostly for the worse.
    Developers have had their way without much hindrance
    Now as people sell off their homes and head East to take advantage of soaring real estate prices whom will be left behind to care about downtown? I doubt that the new owners from China could care less about the ghetto that used to be downtown.

    (Response: Interesting point: I’d bet almost NONE of the new purchasers of condos and homes in “Vancouver” have EVER actually been on Granville downtown to shop/eat etc. … just maybe the odd foray onto Robson … spending ALL of their time instead, shopping, eating in areas outside of “cleansed” of the poor or in malls. Any city without a vibrant, safe downtown core is a city in decline: maybe they should tear up the Granville mall”, narrow the sidewalks to discourage lounging there and open it up WIDE to traffic, parking, and all the retail development, window shopping that would bring! And spread the street agency, housing and social services out into all communities … not bundle them all into the streets just off Granville. h.o)

  13. Diverdarren says:

    I think you might be cherry picking Granville Street.

    The block between Nelson and Smithe is the heart of the NIGHT entertainment district. It’s all bars. (The only daytime business is Tom Lee) Keep it real Harvey. The Roxy is right there. let’s face it bars on a Sunday at noon aren’t usually an attraction for people.

    You should go back there on a Friday, Saturday night (even last Sunday night with the Vic Monday) and see that block hopping. People walking about, lines at the clubs. In a word, Nightlife. Exactly what the city designed the area for.

    It’s a party atmosphere, and the city treats it as such. The police shut the block down to cars. Their presence is visible at the corners and walking the beat. And if you really want to see how the city is ready if (or when) things get to rowdy, just look around the corners on the quieter side streets and see the Integrated Gang Task Force and VPD at the standby.

    If you had walked a few blocks to the South you would have seen the new condo development at the old Cecil Hotel/ Yale. Getting there you would have passed hotels, restaurants and coffee shops. If you headed north you would have walked past new upscale retail. (Nordstoms, ect)

    Ya, the city has a homeless and street begging problem. It’s unsightly and it’s a big city problem. There is not much that can be done besides outreach programs and alternative shelter plans. And that is what Vision is doing! You even recognize this with your reference to the Bosman Shelter on Howe.

    You’re slamming the Council for doing what can be done. revitalizing the downtown with condos and shopping. Building a confined entertainment district (booze it up zone). And actively addressing homelessness with real world solutions like Bosman, The Executive Inn (1300 Howe), The no barrier shelter at the old Kettle of Fish (1400 Seymour) and the low income tower in the Olympic Village.

    Granville street is not the DTES. Walk the length of it. Sure it has issues, but it’s not dead yet.

    (Response: You’re wrong: I was there on a Sunday, between Nelson and Smythe, at a business …and I wasn’t playing a piano! It’s good to address homelessness and poverty but I don’t know of any other city that in 2016 thinks the solution is to kill off their main downtown shopping street by making it and the area around it THE PLACE TO BE for vagrants and homeless and druggies and mentally ill. In fact, in the several decades before Vision, Vancouver LED other cities in preserving and advancing the downtown (no freeways, encouraging housing etc.) while Seattle and Portland etc were letting theirs “go”. Now it’s the opposite: Seattle and Portland have made their downtowns great places to visit and congregate, while Vision … has turned ours into an extension of a sidewalk/doorway human storage facility … encouraged by some of the places you mention being set up right close by. You actually make my point … instead of refuting it! h.o)

  14. Diverdarren says:

    Harvey my error. The shelter at the old Kettle of Fish is at 1400 Hornby.

    1300 Seymour St. has Keri’s Place; City land donated to More Than a Roof for,
    ” 105 Subsidized, Studio Apartments for Singles
    5 Wheelchair Accessible Units
    Support Service: 30 units designated for addiction recovery in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health”

  15. BMCQ says:

    Your Post on this is very important Harvey. The Citizens of Vancouver, B.C., and Canada need to be aware of what is happening to not just the Granville Corridor but all of Vancouver and even to a great extent Victoria.

    Any one that attempts to paint this as a problem of Income Inequity is not familiar with the facts of this long festering and growing problem. Political posturing for sure.

    The problem has nothing to do with some poor folks not getting an opportunity or two. The fact is the main culprit for the personal problems of 90% of those that populate The DES and or The Granville Corridor is VERY POOR LIFE CHOICES!!! NOTHING LESS!

    I was born in St. Paul’s Hospital and I have lived in Vancouver my whole life. Due to circumstances of where my Father spent his early years and worked for much of his life I more or less grew up between the Waldorf Hotel on Hastings spending many a time in Restaurants like the Ovaltine Café, a Cop Hangout, The New Zenith Café, The Blue Eagle Café, The Only Seafood Restaurant, The Jade Palace, The New Diamond, Lotus, and many more. One or two of those actually had holes in their Spoons so people could not cook Dope in them! A friend of my Fathers owned The Ferry Market Butcher Shop right where the Insite Injection Site now sits. Up until about 10 years ago I had my Shoes Shined twice a week two doors east on Hastings.

    Eventually my friends and I graduated to hiding in the corner drinking Beer underage at notorious places like The Stratford Hotel, The Kublai Khan, The Smilin Buddha, Club Zanzibar, Nelson Place, Alcazar, and a few others. It was quite the education!

    We then eventually graduated up to The Fraser Arms, Starvin Marvins, The Body Shop, The Penthouse, Luv Affair, Richard’s on Richards, The Dover Arms, The Yale, The Cecil, The Marble Arch, The No 5 Orange, The Mar, and far too many others.

    Very close Friends of mine still own the two busiest Nightclubs on Granville, along with a couple of Restaurants and Bars. They also own the Celebrities Night Club on Davie at Burrard, the most successful Night Club in Vancouver.

    As stated the vast majority of the people with problems or problem people depending on how you look at are there because of poor life style choices.

    Poverty Pimps like Mayor Gregor, his Visionite Team, Kwan, Jean Swanson, and so many others want us to believe that the Mentally Ill that reside on Granville St. and the DES are there because they are Mentally Ill. That only applies to less than 5%. Fact is the vast majority of those Mentally Ill are Ill because of the many years of abuse of Hard Drugs which trigger the Psychosis most of them experience. Any Dr. that is honest will admit to that fact. In other words if those same people DID NOT choose the path of the Meths, Crack, Heroin, others, and now Fentanyl they more than likely would be productive people in our society and experience no Mental Health issues at all.

    Personally I lost a Sister and several friends to Drug Overdoses. I still have two Life Long Friends that are hopeless Drug Addicts that now literally have no Teeth due to the many years of crack and Meth Smoking, they are barely alive and things do not look like they will improve any time soon. Both of them live mostly on The DES and or Granville St. Nobody’s fault but their own. My Wife’s youngest Sister has been a Drug Addict her whole Adult Life. Not anyone’s fault but her own.

    A good friend of mine was on the VPD Gang and Drug Squads for many years, he is now a Homicide Detective. VPD Stats tell us that it is roughly the same 300 People that carry out about 80% of the Crime in Vancouver proper. Lew differs with me a bit on this but for sake of argument I will stand by my numbers.

    Most of that 300 actually originate from other jurisdictions/provinces from the rest of Canada. Most of those are actually here on Non Returnable Warrants. Those are Warrants that other jurisdictions have charged the individuals but those jurisdictions are not willing to pay to have those criminals shipped back to their own Province to face Court time. In other words they literally pushed those criminals out of their own Province and literally forced the problem to move elsewhere.

    When those same individuals are either checked or arrested for a minor offence here we should PAY to have them sent back to face Court time in their home Province. Perhaps they will receive Jail time and we rid ourselves of them, it would be worth the cost.

    If you were a Career Criminal where would you rather spend the Winter, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, or Vancouver?

    These people may be criminals and Drug addicted but they are intelligent enough to know that Mayor Gregor and his “Visionite” Minions are Soft on Crime, Drugs, and provide free Housing, do you think coming to Vancouver is a tough choice for them?

    Robertson and his ilk are no different than Kevin Kostner in that old move “Build It and they will come”!!!! Give me a break!

    Why is there no push back by The NPA?

    If we were able to ship most of those Offenders on Non Returnable Warrants out of Vancouver we all would be much better off.

    I have spent many a Friday Night Downtown over the years and trust me you have seen nothing on Hastings or Granville. The real action is in the Alleys bordering Granville and Hastings. It is literally alive with “The Walking Dead”!!!! Nothing less than a scene from the old Charlton Heston Movie “The Omega Man”!!

    Because of the unbelievable epidemic of the misuse of Opioids like Oxy, and cheap Drugs like Fentanyl we are in for an even worse problem with problems than ever.

    Not sure of in which order it happened but a lot of the problems on Granville St. started when Art Phillips closed the lower half of Granville off to traffic. Years ago Granville as someone else mentioned did have it’s seedy spots but for the most part when traffic ran the full length Granville was vibrant, hustle bustle shopping with people coming and going in all directions. Theatre Row was in it’s glory and it was a destination place for Vancouverites of ALL ages to seek out. It was a big mistake to take the hustle bustle traffic off of Granville, it killed retail for sure.

    Another reason Granville is a problem today is the fact that Poverty Pimps like Bruce Eriksen, Libby Davies, Jean Swanson, Harry Rankin and many others forced the Provincial Government of the day to shut down the one Provincial Liquor Store down that was located on Hastings just east of Main St. By doing that they encouraged many from The DES to migrate to Granville St, The West End, West 4th Ave, West Broadway, and even Kerrisdale. Another big mistake.

    The last nail in the coffin for Granville St. or DES for that matter is the fact that the Judiciary here are SOFT on Crime. Some offenders have over 40, 50, 60, and even more than 70 Convictions yet Judges continue to use the revolving door policy which Police just hate. Fact is if many of these were sent to prison for 2 years or more they would be in the Federal Prison System which would offer them Drug Treatment and it could change their lives for the better.

    The many prolific repeat Offenders that reside on Granville and or the DES would soon either move on, be in Jail, or change their ways if the Courts did their job. It is long past time for the Citizens, MSM, Politicians, and Chiefs of Police in our Province to demand more from the Judiciary.

    As an example, how much better would the situation in Surrey be if Judges sentenced the repeat Offenders there to serious time? Each and every one of those eventually arrested and charged will have previous convictions that should have earned jail time. Time to speak out people!!

    As far as I am concerned the Judges of this Province for the most part have abdicated their responsibility!!! Time to step up put their “Big Boy Pants On” and act like Judges! Judges need to hand down fair just sentences but they also need to create a deterrent which the rest of society can understand, it may keep some of the rest of us in line.

    Having said all of that I travel a lot each year. over the past while I have been in in YYZ, JFK, FLL, MIA, MSY, IAH, San Diego, LAX, SFO, OAK, and several others. Fact is NOT ONE of them has a Downtown that looks worse than Vancouver proper, but the fact is each and every one of them is far more dangerous than Vancouver.

    So perhaps there is something we can cling to.

    Oh and by the way, there are Social Housing Units in so called better parts of the City. Do not worry that Public Speaking Genius Mayor Gregor will make sure of that!! Just wait for more!!

    (Response: A history lesson every city council member, every provincial politician, every social planner, every judge should read! I remember many of the areas/places you mention: every city has its seedy areas, but strange thing, I never felt as unsafe walking on Hastings/Main in those days as I did recently on Granville on a Sunday around Noon! Like most city/suburban residents, it had been a long time since going down that way … parking is now difficult to find weekdays, and expensive, and the area has just been uninviting. But the mare I examine and consider what has happened, I can’t help but wonder if this is BY DESIGN? Instead of cleaning up and creating an attractive pedestrian shopping/living environment on the city’s prime north-south retail artery, maybe Vision has encouraged the area becoming a storage facility for the poor, mentally and socially deprived? Why? Because except for the odd foray to collect bottles etc. that keeps many of them out of West End, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Mount Pleasant, Commercial, Kitsilano, False Creek and, of course, Point Grey. No doubt pleases their millionaire developer friends and supporters! And all the GENERATED publicity around bike lanes, bridge and traffic changes, one-ways going nowhere, no left turns, no right turns, remove huge numbers of parking in the city core, close off Robson as a through road and all sorts of other traffic calming may be deliberately designed to steer citizenry and public attention (and the all too compliant media) from what is really going on down there? h.o)

  16. BMCQ says:

    Up until fairly recently New York City had been cleansed of it’s most unsavory element by an absolutely fantastic District Attorney and later NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani made Law and Order priority number one and he also made sure Garbage was Collected and Pot Holes filled. That is the basic job of any Mayor and people in Vancouver should demand the same of Mayor Gregor and his “Visionite” Group. No Social Engineering under Giuliani whatsoever. Michael Bloomberg maintained for the most part the Law and Order platform during his tenure as Mayor. Crime was declining each year.

    Since the fairly recent Election of Socialist Mayor Bill de Blasio “The wheels have come off”! de Blasio has dispensed with much of what Crime Fighting procedures former Mayors Giuliani, Bloomberg, The NYC Police Force and DA had used to accomplish Crime Control. This all took place within 6 months of the election of de Blasio.

    Same with Mayor Lee and his Socialist Group in San Francisco. SFO is literally falling apart. I was thee last week and the stench of Urine is everywhere, even Union Square!! SF PD has been instructed not to Police what the Mayor calls Petty Street Crime.

    Get ready Vancouver and Victoria!

  17. Gene The Bean says:

    After having slept on this problem I have come to the conclusion that it probably doesn’t matter what we think.

    What do the property developers and Asian offshore buyers think…?

    (Response: They’re probably very happy with Vision council corralling the city’s less fortunate into the Granville area. Keeps them away from their real estate investments. So what if it makes several blocks of the city’s major downtown north-south street a “no go” zone for local families and shoppers h.o)

  18. Hawgwash says:

    “Granville Street Turning Into Another Downtown Eastside.”

    You say that like it has somehow just begun.

    I find your eye opening experience interesting. As pointed out by others, Granville St. has been in decline for several, probably 15 or more, years. It’s like someone’s child; if you don’t see them for a few years you are in disbelief at the changes.

    In a blog sometime last year, you challenged a commenter who said people in Vancouver were rude, inconsiderate. Your reaction was one of a person in isolation and I almost suggested you spend an afternoon on transit going from Richmond or even Marpole, to almost anywhere downtown; walk the streets for an hour, take a bus to Main and back south to where you started.

    I moved from the burbs to downtown in 1996. Like decades prior, I still felt I was safe anywhere, any time. Then around 2000 the dogs and panners started moving in and though Granville was the main attraction, they started appearing everywhere.

    Davie, Robson, Denman, Dunsmuir. Anywhere there were people, there were freeloaders. Most of them from outside BC or at least not from Vancouver.

    I don’t know which came first, the poverty pimp storefronts and drop in flophouses of Granville and Seymour, or the nomads looking for handouts. They live off and exist at the benefit of each other.

    Last year, I left Vancouver after almost 20 years. The last 9 years, I lived in Yaletown. Friends thought I lived in a wonderful place. They came into town from Port Moody, Langley or some other part of the burbs for a game, a concert, a charity run or some other “event.” They would do dinner, bike the seawall, whatever and go back to Smallville. They did not have to deal with the daily grind of angry, dirty, unhappy people so, to them it didn’t exist. I left Vancouver because it left me.

    Harvey, Granville Street is merely the visible. Talk to any cop who works almost any neighbourhood of Vancouver. The rats are eveywhere. Just easier to see on Granville.

    English Bay after fireworks is Granville St. until your taxes sweep it under the logs. It’s the same people, just dressed differently.

    And Vancouver is not unique. Surrey, Abbotsford, Kamloops and Prince George have the same social strata and degree of garbage.

    You spend a big chunk of your life in or near Broward. Sistrunk, Davie, Collier City and even Dania Beach have streets that make Granville look like Bal Harbor.

    It’s not Granville St. It’s not Vision Vancouver. It’s Life in the city and the reason the MSM says nothing is because, like you, they have no reason to go there so are oblivious.

    Besides, the MSM make the same money at a desk, creating sensationalistic drivel, as they would getting their hands dirty.

    (Response: Maybe you missed the paragraph in my piece:”Let’s face it: it has been a very long time since Granville Street has been a major draw for local residents (except bar patrons in the evenings). But I can’t recall ever seeing it as bad as it is now …. during the day … on the weekend.” So it’s not a matter of others pointing it out: but I would submit the earlier decline(s) occurred by evolution over time, as suburban malls etc. drew people away. NOW, seems to me City Council is actually ENCOURAGING it by their policies and programs …and THAT is worthy of special exposure/concern. Every large city has social problems, but the emphasis almost everywhere …except Vancouver …is on revitalization. When any Council votes first to turn downtown core former hotels into hostels, office buildings into social service centers and parkades into “housing” … that area is being DISCARDED. And when that happens by the city’s ONLY major north-south RETAIL artery right as you enter the downtown from the south … that’s different …a LOT different! h.o)

  19. BMCQ says:

    Hawg – 18

    ” I Left Vancouver because it Left Me” !

    Well put, I am sure there are literally thousands that feel the same way! Kind of Sad, huh ?


  20. e.a.f. says:

    The best fix for Granville St., might be to turn it back into what it once was. A big wide street with two lanes for driving, each way, and some parking. I can recall when the Granville St. bridge was built. it was huge and took a lot of traffic and went right downtown. Now, not so much.

    Once parking is taken from a street, people no longer stop to shop and the end begins. Some may think walking and biking and all that, but really we are a car society and that isn’t going to change no matter how many bike lanes Mayor Moonbeam installs. There are simply too many hills around Vancouver for people to take biking seriously. If you look at places like Holland, yes they all bike, but hey its flat. Its much different to be in your business cloths and bike a mile on a flat surface than to go up and down hills, like say the hill on Granville St. going to the bridge or coming down or going up the hills in Kits.

    The other thing which isn’t helping neighbourhoods in Vancouver is the empty homes, which makes it difficult to run a small business.

    But all of the problems we write about here for the city, makes it easier for the city to be de-populated by average taxpaying voters/citizens and developers and off shore buyers to use the city as its play ground.

    We see the problem in parts of Surrey, like outside the Living Room, and the RCMP do nothing that some of us can see. But it does confine drug dealing and such to specific areas of a community leaving the property values higher in the areas which benefit some developers, politicians and citizens.

    Nothing is by accident. I’m of the opinion, its by design.

    (Response: No cyclist in their right mind would leave a bike for any amount of time parked on Granville Street …unless they hire a guard to stand over it! h.o)

  21. morry says:

    what a great piece Harvey. You have uncovered a mother-load of stories and news pieces that the MSM NEEDS to tackle! This city started to decline in the late 9o’s. Like others, and esp. BMCQ, have said Vancouver is lost. The soul of YVR is destroyed. But we have not yet hit bottom. There are so many pockets of decay in the city these days that did’;t exist 10 year ago. I have NEVER seen the DTES is such a state of deranged poverty as i witnessed 2 Fridays ago as i was stuck in traffic driving along Hastings St. from Gore to Cambie. SCARY! Human carnage: from the mentally ill to the deranged and druged hopelessness.

    Gastown is not immune. i have even seen druged panhandlers hanging around the Canada Place area. The number of street panhandlers at EVERY busy intersection all over the city is rampant and a disgrace.

    Who the hell wants to live in such a city. i know i am counting the days before we leave.

    Life in YVR before Expo86, like BMCQ illustrated was a paradise. We have lost it…

    (Response: We didn’t lose it: we SOLD it. There’s a natural evolution that happens to cities as they grow, mature and the demographics change: it’s City Council’s DUTY in each to ensure that, as the community grows and changes, the basic values that made it so attractive in the first place are protected and enhanced. Not so in Vancouver … I believe Vision City Council FAILED miserably in that regard ….adopting individual changes that seemed so minor at the time (rezonings for much higher densities, removing downtown street parking, making what remains VERY expensive…pushing more away; bike lanes all over.. without any enforcement of traffic laws, road rules for them; and then importing/encouraging LOTS of low-income housing/resources/facilities). And now Vancouverites …who re-elected them or stayed away …are paying for that … with an ugly downtown core that REPELS more than ATTRACTS … and who benefits most? The rich newcomers (domestic and foreign)who can afford those tiny “luxury” condos; old-time homeowners who sell their places for a fortune and then get out, as their old homes are torn down and replaced with houses/townhomes/condos almost NO young families can afford; and, those other municipalities where both Vancouver and suburban residents all go, by car!, to shop. h.o)

  22. Hawgwash says:

    Hastings was also once a mecca of misadventure, including the Stanley, New Fountain and later the Drake.

  23. Hawgwash says:

    I moved to the Island.
    Sidney, actually and it both interests and troubles me what I am seeing here.

    Having watched the ravaging of Vancouver post Exop, I see the same developer creep here. A favorite ploy of council, who were elected on a go slow slate, are allowing the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaws to be amended and varied on a case by case basis. The farce is, each and every “case” gets the nod.

    We are now seeing a densification unfold that is completely developer driven. People are not happy but can do nothing until election time. Too late.

    The other sad part is the homeless hoohaw in Victoria. It is going the same way as Vancouver to the point there are areas I will just stay away from.

    The really sad part is, having watched it in Vancouver, seeing it coming here and the people are in denial. They have no idea what lies ahead.

    Most people over here don’t even know where Granville Street is. They are so ripe they won’t even feel the picking.

    (Response: Densification per se is not always bad: it can make better use of land, and provide more housing at reduced cost per sq ft. However, councils must be careful NOT to sell out their city core, existing communities and values … by allowing one area’s landowners to enrich themselves at the cost of others (ie sacrificing one area …like the Granville Street core … as a dumping ground.) h.o)

  24. nonconfidencevote says:

    Its funny.
    After reading these stories of how Granville St “was”
    I remember a conversation back in the 1980’s I had with a former boss who was a teenager in the 50’s and when I made a comment THEN about how seedy Granville street was he laughed and said.
    “Its ALWAYS been a problem! When I was cruising up and down here in the 50’s the cops were stopping us’ The city council bans traffic, then opens it up, then bans it again…….”
    On a side note he also talked about driving down Granville immediately after Typhoon Freida in the early 60’s and the street was filled with broken glass from the wind and all the shops alarms were going off, No police anywhere in sight. No people. No looting. No one around.

    I guess time and real estate values will eventually drive out the riff raff.
    But not any time soon.

  25. Keith E. says:

    many folks have commented on the lack of coverage of this issue by the local media.

    A similar problem exists on the Island in Victoria where a provincial park has been turned into a tent city. However the media are all over this, most nights on the local t.v. news it’s often the lead along with the Times Colonist, a day hasn’t gone by for months now without a piece of substance.

    But the issues you raised have been going on for years now in Victoria, mostly ignored ( can’t upset the tourism industry) with the odd aggressive panhandler getting 15 seconds of fame.

    It wasn’t until the inept local and provincial authorities let it get so far out of hand, then media started paying attention. Even in Parksville we have similar issues albeit on a smaller scale but the principles of ineptness in dealing with this remain the same.

    Vancouver is no longer a community, it is little more than a city with brand,now inhabited with to a great extent ( to paraphrase Oscar Wilde) those that know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

    And as long as the local media can gush over some obscure survey that rates Vancouver best or close to best of something in the world, the investors will still be coming, it will be just so amazing, world class and the best place on earth.

    But if the street people get organized with the help of the usual suspects in the poverty industry as they have in Victoria, even the local boosters won’t be able to kid themselves or us any longer.

    (Response: The Victoria and situations in other communities might seem off topic re Granville … but not really. Many of those involved have long-term drug or mental problems and are unemployable. I believe society MUST take care of them fairly and adequately: BUT that should not mean they can take over prime core downtown properties/parks … even when officials offer them accommodation elsewhere. They should also not be allowed to wantonly and repeatedly break various laws/bylaws … while a shop owner nearby gets hassled/threatened with legal action for having a neighborhood favorite dog lying on the sidewalk outside her shop! h.o)

  26. morry says:

    try and leave your meter un-plugged for five minutes anywhere in vancouver . You get slapped with a fine immediately. but if you are delaing drugs or stealing… you are free as a bird to do that until the cow come home. Why… ’cause the person with the car has money to pay the fine! YVR is doomed.

    (Response: Another piece of Vancouver hypocrisy under Vision: if someone lights up a cigarette or if I am caught at Spanish Banks sitting on a log far, far away from anyone, smoking my pipe, we would both no doubt be cited … or at least warned to stop immediately …by a bylaw officer. BUT two thousand people smoking pot on a West End beach …. even close to families and kids… is okay? And I hope no one will try to tell me toking up in Vancouver’s public parks is only a once a year special event! h.o)

  27. Rocker Rich says:

    Hawgwash has it partly right on the negative changes in Victoria. The horrendous campout by the Victoria courthouse gets worse by the day. Unless the judge overseeing the case finally issues an eviction notice, it’s only a matter of time until someone dies from an overdose or violence.

    Victoria, much like Vancouver, suffers from a milquetoast council. Until more residents in each city bother to vote in local elections, don’t expect much change.

    Still, let’s not overly romanticize the lower Granville strip of yore. Back in the ’70s, I worked in Skid Row at the City Nights Theatre. Yet I never felt fearful catching a late-night bus amid the passing parade of aging down-on-their-luck alcoholic veterans and younger off-reserve natives. For all their problems, those poor souls seemed to have a semblance of community and concern for one another. That changed in the ’90s when the largely Central American drug dealers took over.

    By comparison, there was usually a sense of menace on lower Granville once you headed south of Theatre Row. Former mayor Art Phillips, may he rest in peace, accomplished many good things with his TEAM- dominated councils. But shutting down traffic on much of downtown Granville was a well-intentioned mistake.

    (Response: But the point is while other cities are being very successful at re-invigorating their downtown cores, Vision council seems intent on pushing shoppers and families away, turning our into a dumpster ….although judging by all the litter I witnessed, few are bothering to seek the trash bins out. h.o)

  28. someone says:

    I need to chime in on this one. I think I am probably a bt younger than many of the readers of this blog. I was a teenager in the 1990s. I agree and disagree with Harvey’s assessment of Granville Street.

    When I was a teenager in the 1990s, I remember Granville Street was a bit seedy. This would have been after the pedestrian mall came in so that’s the only Granville Street I ever knew. I don’t remember it before there was a pedestrian mall. In the 90s, it was the pedestrian mall and it was the Capital 6 movie theatre and a whole bunch of other theatres. There were also a lot of homeless kids. The homeless kids would mostly hang out in front of the McDonald’s at Granville and Smithe–and social services would give them meal tickets they could use at McDonald’s. There used to be street dealers of marijuana dime bags in front of that McDonald’s as well as at the Art Gallery in the 90s. I was not homeless myself, but I was friends with many of the street kids and many other people in the area. In the 90s, if I got off the skytrain at Granville Station, I remember it could take an hour just to walk a few blocks down Granville because of all the people I would run into whom I knew and would have to talk to.

    In the lead-up to the Olympics in the 2000s, Granville Street was cleaned up. Many of the trees on Granville were cut down before the Olympics and I remember being upset about that. I remember around the time of the Olympics–few years before and few years after–there were hardly any homeless teens asking for spare change the way it was in the 90s. The dime bag dealers were gone. It was very much cleaned up for the Olympics. I did not like this. Gone were the days when I could walk down Granville Street and know everybody. I felt that Granville had been sanitized for the Olympics.

    I noticed the homeless teens started returning to Granville a few years ago. I was happy to see this. It reminds me of how Vancouver used to be in the 90s when I was young (so do all the movie crews around town–the resurgence of the film industry in Vancouver is something else that reminds me of the 90s). I appreciate the grunginess and the grittiness. I am not put off by young homeless kids asking for spare change.

    But now I see that Granville Street is turning into the DTES. I had that very same thought the other day when I had to step over a hypodermic needle on Granville Street. In the 90s, there were homeless kids on Granville and people selling pot. In the 90s, there were not hypodermic needles on Granville Street!!! In the 90s, the hypodermic needle scene was confined (mostly) to the DTES. There is now a population of people living in the supportive housing around Granville Street that is a very hardcore population of hardcore drug users with severe mental health issues. In my opinion, that is what has changed Granville Street for the worse–not the bars, not the people partying on Friday night, and not the young teens asking for spare change. There is an element of very hardcore drug use and severe mental health issues that can make the area very scary. You do have to be on guard there. You have to watch every where you step that you are not putting your foot down on a hypodermic needle–I’ve seen more than one, I’ve seen lots of needles on Granville in the past year. I am a street smart person so none of this really deters me–but I have certainly noticed it. Look at the block of Hastings Street from Cambie to Abbott where the Woodwards building is–totally gentrified now! Less likely to find hypodermic needles on that block of Hastings Street today compared to Granville Street today–that is a complete reversal from how things were when I was young in the 90s.

    I am surprised to hear people say the problems on Granville only go down to Nelson or Helmcken. I think the problem stretch of Granville is between Smithe and Drake–those blocks are the worst. The block of Granville between Drake and Davie is actually very scary too and I’ve seen needles there. Once you get up to the block of Granville between Smithe and Robson that is where more of the shops are and it seems to get better.

    (Response: Very astute! I too remember the days of the theatres and retail and yes, there were a few homeless or hangers out as well …but they were not really a problem then, because the was so much going on. And the city had not yet concentrated so many homeless, social agencies, drop in centres in the area. Now the theatres are gone, a lot of the retail followed them and the City’s development policy …or should I say de-development … is ATTRACTING more and more. Is there ANY city that sees that as a great idea for its main shopping street as residents and tourists come off a major funnel like the Granville Bridge. Vancouver is now all about the periphery: developing, enhancing, beautifying the edges of its core … esp where the expensive condos/homes are … while letting the city’s core rot! And of course, diverting traffic (cars AND bikes AND now no doubt pedestrians) away from Granville … so it can continue to slide downhill …out of sight. h.o)

  29. BMCQ says:

    Morry – 26

    Wow! Imagine you and me agreeing on something!! Next thing Aghast and Bean will be giving me an “Atta Boy”! Nah, no chance of that!

    You are 100% correct about the Parking Tickets. They are like Vultures waiting for innocent Victims that run any more than a minute over time. Let’s face it Mayor Gregor and his Minions need the income for their Pet Projects!

    Harvey mentions Hypocrisy, is that not what “Vision” is spelled backwards? Very sad that The NPA under Phillip Owen became involved with Social Engineering themselves. It left people like me and my friends and neighbours no reason to Vote for them after Weak Sisters like Peter Ladner and his ilk took the party over. Remember Ladner was the original advocate of the Bicycle Lanes. His Father must be turning over in his Grave. Where is Marty Zlotnick when they need him?

    Crime is up quite dramatically over the past two years. Again, much of that Crime is being carried out by those that should not even be in our Province. In the meantime your Tax Dollars and mine are used to house and feed them, all at no cost to the Criminal.

    Stats tell us that the vast majority of Criminals commit most of their Crimes within 3 or 4 miles of where they reside. That is why there is almost no crime in West Vancouver. The East and West side of Vancouver are all accessible from Downtown Granville or DES.

    Keep in mind that there is also a Hobo Jungle in Stanley Park. That is going to eventually be a real problem.

    I can remember about 2 years ago e.a.f. suggested that “We build a Tent City right in that nice Park off of Marine Drive in Shaughnessy/Kerrisdale”. Fact is up until recently I lived right across from the Pool there in Maple Grove Park. Unfortunately like Hawgwash we sold and are now leaving Vancouver Proper.

    Or should I say, “Vancouver left Me”!!!!!!!

    Another thing to watch, No Garbage cleanup almost anywhere in the City but especially Granville St. and DES. Lawns on Boulevards and Parks are looking scruffy and there is just an unkempt appearance over the whole City now. This has been taking place for the past 5 years or so.

    Then on top of that I must ask this question. When was the last time you say Helmetless Bicycle Driver or Bike Rider blowing through a Red Light get a Ticket? I bet Stephen Harper would receive one!!

    Seems that many of the Activist type Mayors like de Blasio in New York, Lee in San Francisco and Gregor in Vancouver are associated with former Vancouver Counsel Member David Cadmans Group ICLEI. Yikes!!

    Incidents of Violent Crime (10%) and Assaults (15%) are also way up in Vancouver. Seems to be an epidemic of assaults on Women both Sexual Assaults and Theft. Again when the Offender is arrested they Always have a record the length of Tim Duncan’s Shirt sleeve!

    If my numbers are correct Property Crime is up about 40% in Vancouver.

    Fact is there is almost no Deterrent whatsoever that would stop Repeat Prolific Offenders from carrying out more crimes. So “Why not”, they say!

    Between the lack of Police Enforcement, Accountability, Activist Judges and the soon toming Epidemic of Fentanyl, Crack, Meth,
    W – 18, and perhaps even Crocodil we are in for a Tsunami of Crime and we ARE in serious trouble!!! Just watch and see.

    Unfortunately there is NO Political Will from your Newly Minted PM or “Mumbles” Robertson and his Minions to act and do something about it!!

    We are about to lose much in the way of our youngest Generation to Drug Misadventure and the Streets!

    In the meantime Property Taxes continue to climb. Mayor Gregor talks about the yearly 2.5% or so in increases but he neglects to tell us that when Property Values can increase Millions of Dollars over 1o or even 5 years that 2.5% is compounded and it becomes a huge number! Even in the World of Jenny Kwan!!

    Personally I have seen PT increases that would curl your hair!!

    Next time you are Downtown in Vancouver take a walk along Denman from Davie to Robson, then proceed up Robson to Burrard St. There are currently over 50 Empty Store Fronts on just those two streets alone. Some empty over a year.

    The reason is the fact that Property Owners (Land Lords) are forced to increase their Rents to cover the Property Tax. This makes the Triple Net Rents far to high for smaller operations and they move on! In turn this makes it difficult for Property owners to pay their Property Tax, a vicious cycle. Sort of like a Snake eating his or own tail!

    You may recall that Chapers said they would be looking for a more suitable location. NO CHANCE! They are gone forever as are so many other Larger Stores and Mom and Pop Shops!!

    Sure Victoria Secrets, Nordstrom’s, Lulu and a few others will be there but they will eventually be very lonely.

    My last point here and I did mention this a while back but it certainly applies to Granville strip and DES.

    Why is it there are absolutely no Asians or what we now call South Asians of any Brand Drug Addled living on the Streets?

    Why is it only the White Guy or North American Native Indians we see living in the Gutter?

  30. BMCQ says:



  31. 13 says:

    Harvey, youve really touched a nerve with this one. The posts are all well thought out and with a lot of thought put into them. Its obvious that most of your readers careabout the fate of this city.
    Its easy to pin much of the problems on the current Vision regime. I think that Visions biggest mistake is waiting in the wings. The soon to arrive Broadway skytrain line. The fact that Vision is willing to destroy buisness and rip up another cut and cover debacle is beyond belief.
    The fact that it will end at Arbutus instead of UBC tells us all that rapid transit isnt to run through neighbourhoods of the rich and famous even tomove thousands of students to UBC.
    Without a doubt the biggest waste of money hoisted on Vancouver ever.

    (Response: You’re kind of off topic, but I feel strongly about transit and I will disagree with you: I’m lucky to have a car and often drive along Broadway from Commercial towards UBC: even when they are dozens of them, the buses simply can’t handle the loads I see …and it’s just not fair …all those poor people being passed up …esp standing in the rain. An east-west Broadway line is long overdue … and although I’m very critical of Vision, I’d back them on that …and preferably below ground. As for “ending on Arbutus” ..I get that: most people seem to get off at Main, Cambie or Granville to head north/south. Remaining loads west beyond Arbutus, where development is not so dense and many, many out that way use cars, could easily be handled by lots of 99-B articulated expresses..right to UBC. h.o)

  32. nonconfidencevote says:

    Well Harvey someone linked your blog topic to garth Turner’s financial blog with its 1000’s of readers. His topic of the day is the idiocy of Vancouver and Toronto’s real estate balloon.
    Comment #71)

  33. harry lawson says:


    what appears to be missing is civic pride. few merchants sweep the streets. some business improvement associations contract street cleaning to non profits . where have all the garbage cans gone?

    one of the first economic cuts made by the city was to street cleaning to save money many a trash can was removed . the park board cut bacon trash pick up too.

    yet the vision administration has significantly expanded the communications department.

    vision is truly blind to the plight of our city.

    (Response: It’s not that Vision has no message or focus: it’s that their focus, seems to me, is on two specific groups: the poor and the rich. All the rest…the vast majority of residents who subsidize those other groups’ preferential levels of services and privileges … are largely ignored …except when they need t raise taxes…year after year,..well beyond actual inflation. And it takes a lot of communication experts to keep the reality in check …and deliver spin …which most of the local media accept. In fact, apart from the Vancouver Sun and the Courier, do the rest of the media even regularly cover city hall as a beat? h.o)

  34. John's Aghast says:

    Gone are the days when I used to hitch-hike, or walk the 10 km or so from Tigertown (DTES/Hastings and Main) to UBC after the bus stopped running, usually with a snootfull of barley drink. Never a worry about the locals. I can remember numerous occasions trying to live up to the Engineers creed (we can, we can drink forty beers) only to finally realize that they were the ten cent glasses, not the larger twenty cent glasses. I can remember dressing incognito (sans red jacket) and gradually infiltrating the Cecil Hotel pub on a Saturday afternoon. When we Engineers finally occupied the whole premises we were ‘chased out’ by the smallest, red sweatered Engineer in our class, leaving the pub empty except for the lone Engineer!

    Not meant to be off-topic Harv, but to reminisce for the Good Old days when it was safe to wander the streets of Granville and Hastings, even after an evening of imbibing. I don’t do Vancouver any longer, mainly because of the changes you describe.

  35. BMCQ says:

    Hang – 22

    Very Cool!

    Lot’s of Memories!

  36. 13 says:

    BMCQ asks the question why do you only find white people and natives in areas we consider slums or rough areas.
    DTES,Granville, Gladas in Abbottsford, Cliff ave in Maple Ridge evry neighbourhood has a tent city. Even Stanley Park has become a no go after dark due to forestdwellers that dont belong in the forest. Almost every face seen in these areas is white.
    Easy asnswer is these people need proper housing and jobs. Possibly the order of need should be jobs then housing. The lack of asians south or otherwise in these down and out situations points to cultural differences. Chinese seem to place high value on education . East Indians have a strong sense of community.
    A friend and myself were in Surrey shopping at Surrey place mall and every crowd of loiterers or pnahandlers at every entrance to that mall were white kids. I dont know where it came off the rails and years from now with the demographics changing to white people becoming the visible minority in Canada maybe the asian people will come off the rails as well.

  37. maxavelli says:

    I am amazed panhandlers even bother anymore. I am surprised 80% of them haven’t gone out of business.

    “Spare some change”?

    Who carries change these days, when people pay for their 2.95 coffee with a debit/credit card?

    Now if the panhandler had change for a $20, we might be in business 🙂

    (Response: Maybe because I’m now a pensioner…I have change..and I sometimes do give …it’s the $20s I’m short of! h.o)

  38. e.a.f. says:

    BMCQ, hi its e.a.f.

    taking the phrase out of context……..I most likely wrote that in the context of the city needing affordable/supportive housing; that if we were going to move council and mayor to do something, we ought to move the homeless to that park to get them moving. (it would devalue the property prices)

    I went to that park as a child with my parents; for church picnics; get togethers; and as an adult, went with my friends and their small children. it is one of my favorite parks in Greater Vancouver the best pool in the city, and no concession stands. If the city had more parks like that around, it would be better for families and children, but alas, that time has come and gone.

    People are moving out of Vancouver because it has lost its sense of community we once enjoyed. Some areas have lots of empty homes, ugly new monster houses are being built, small businesses are leaving–they can’t make a living with the “new conditions”. And now our premier is off in Asia with 2 real estate firm representatives along for the trip–selling even more of our communities to foreigners.

    What is happening on Granville St. will be repeated in areas all over Vancouver. As the longer term residents move out, you can expect to see the City of Vancouver and developers start to change the zoning and see the beginning of densification, which is what Vision wanted all along and most likely so did some of their financial supporters.

    new housing will be sold to foreigners and not be designed for people working or living in Vancouver.

    The Granville St. area, will get more run down, with more drug dealers moving in. when council gets a proposal from a developer to re-zone, everyone will go, why not, all that is down there are drug dealers. Goal accomplished.

    Even Yaletown has changed in the past 5 years. Independent shops have moved out and all there are is a series of small eateries. Given the rent on some of those places, its not reasonable to conclude they are making the rent from those businesses. You can actually find parking spaces in Yaletown without having to circle the block. Expect to see more of the DTES move into the area. You will note along Hamilton, its all low rises. Well I’d suggest developers want high rises.

    What is happening in Vancouver and other areas isn’t by mistake or neglect. I’d suggest its deliberate to change a specific area. The first question you ask yourself is, why are the cops not here to deal with it? A little weed was never a problem but when open dealing is going on with meth, crack, etc. some one is “permitting the condition to exist”.

    its sort of like Surrey, around the Living Room, open dealing, beatings for drug debts, but the RCMP do nothing. Instead they bust a dial a dope ring. Now what is more harmful in terms of a neighbourhood? I’d suggest the open air drug dealing around a place which is supposed to be someplace homeless people can go at night. Fordy has done nothing to deal with it. My take, the City of Surrey wants it this way. That is what is happening in the City of Vancouver also. You have people with mental health problems and no money in an area but then we have the hard core dealers moving in and the police not doing anything.

    when it comes to dealing with the dealers, Delta and Abbotsford police departments are doing a lot more.

    The Victoria tent city now has drug dealers and criminal elements moved in. Many can’t or won’t distinguish between the two groups. do not be surprised if the next move is to sell that court house for redevelopment, with the court system renting space.

    as housing becomes more unaffordable in Metro Vancouver expect to see more homeless and they will include seniors, disabled, low income, families, etc. Its all because our politicians have refused to do anything about the issues.

    Too bad they sold Little Mountain housing off of Main St. It would have been a perfect place to build housing for people of all incomes working in the City of Vancouver and also providing housing for seniors, the disabled, and mentally ill. $72K a year is not enough to live in Vancouver.

    From past experience, I’ve figured out a “normal/blended” neighbourhood can “absorb” one “screwup” for every 50 “normal” households.

    Only the City of New West has done anything to keep families in their city. New apartment buildings must have “family” units. (I think its 10% of the units must be 3 bedrooms and 20% must have 2 bedroom units.) A city with no children will not care about its streets and neighbourhoods.

  39. Hawgwash says:

    Reading through all the comments, it struck me how many feel the state of Granville Street is a deliberate, piece of a much bigger agenda. The “beliefs” seem to be much deeper than a typical conspiracy theory.

    I then wonder how long it will take, if ever, for the citizenry to really get up in arms.

    I am also convinced that the world of political blogs is rapidly becoming a very valuable, legitimate medium and service.

    (Response: Blogs …and good media …shine the light on these problems/issues quite regularly now. Unfortunately, too much of the local media is caught up following the agenda set out for them by press releases, press conferences, charity appeals …and not doing much digging/exposure into the issues that really DO draw listeners, viewers, readers. Maybe it’s time the business community and the opposition political forces drew attention to what has happened to Granville …by …guess what …holding a press conference there to get the media down there! h.o)

  40. BMCQ says:

    harry – 33

    I believe the NPA had 2 Communications people during their last term in office. Mayor Gregor and the “Visionites” currently have s a number of about 22 in their Communications Dept.

    Imagine the cost to the Tax Payer!


    Everyone that Posts and Reads here should understand that Mayor Gregor and his Minions are not necessarily the Friends of the Developers. Fact is neither one of the two groups really likes the other very much, they simply use one another as a means to an end.

    The Mayor and his Group are focused on two things and two things only. It is their goal to fill Vancouver Proper with as much Social Housing as the Federal, Provincial, and City Tax Payers can afford. It will never be enough!

    Keep in mind that Vancouver has literally provided thousands of Social Housing Units and other Shelters for the disenfranchised yet we still have two thousand of them on the streets. “Build it and they will come”!!

    The Mayor gets his way by relaxing some of the cities Zoning allowing the Developer to increase the number of Feet in Height and Floors to any given building. In turn the Developer then must contribute about 20% Social Housing component to any given project. This way BOTH the Developer and the Visionite Council get their way. They simply use each other to get what they want.

    In fact they do not really like each other at all, they really look at one another more or less like Two Scorpions circling each other in a Bottle.

    In the end it is the Tax Payer and the innocent people trying to live a productive life that live on The DES, Granville St., or some new up coming area the Mayor will fill with problem people. Start by looking at The Olympic Village area, some of the most prime real estate in North America full of problem people. How does that look for the hard working 90% that live there?

    People that work in my Company earn between $ 40 K and $ 112K each year, they cannot afford to purchase in The Olympic Village yet their Tax Dollars are used to provide Housing for people that do not even work. How air is that? Who said that Social Housing is not built in better parts of the City?

    We will soon see the Mayor sell off the Aquatic Centre on Beach avenue to a Developer. The Developer will be allowed some Zoning Relaxation in exchange for a Social Housing component. The Pool will be gone, some more wealthy folks will have new Condo’s, the Mayor will have his Social Housing for people that move here from Saskatoon, Montreal, or Winnipeg, and the Developers will get what they want, Profit for their Share Holders!

    In the meantime it will mean more problems for Granville St., The DES, and far too many other parts of the city.

    There is no plan to creat the problems it is simply the Bi-Product of having people like Mayor Gregor and his Visionite Minions in charge.

    The other thing most important to The Mayor and his group is “The War on the Car” and his wish to do anything he can to remove Automobiles from Vancouver proper. He will do everything he can to ensure that Robson St. is closed, other streets have Platforms built in Parking Spots to add sitting areas and gathering places. Unfortunately the Gathering Spots are usually under Rain or occupied by Street People.

    I asked the question of why are there literally no Asian or East Indian (South Asian) people on the streets of Vancouver. Why is it only North American Native Indians and White Men?

    Some here seem to feel that it is the fault of the Former Harper federal Tory Government of the B.C. Liberal Clark Government. Somehow those two Governments have alienated, made poor, and disenfranchised those two groups and they are victims, thus ending up on Granville St. or The DES or some other S*** Hole in the YVR.

    I then ask this, how is it the two hated Federal Cons and the B.C. Liberal Government have not managed to disenfranchise and turn The Chinese Community, the Korean Community, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipina and other groups into Drug Addicted Street Criminals?

    How did they slip through the cracks and manage to stay on the straight and narrow?

    Every since my Friends were young Boys my Father drove the following into our heads every chance he got.

    “Get Educated, rise early every day, it will pay dividends the rest of your life, stay away from Drugs, Booze, Slow Horses and Fast Women”, the rest will look after itself”.

    If the people of Vancouver do not vote our Mayor Gregor and his Vision Council at the next opportunity Granville St. and the DES will spread around the whole of the YVR!

  41. BMCQ says:

    Cannot believe the “Homeless Count” is up several % in Vancouver!!

    I thought Mumbles Robertson would have had that under control by now!!

    Notice he did not have the Strength of Character to face the MSM himself?

    The Coward had to roll out the just as Pathetic “Visionite” Councillor Kerry Jang to “LIE” for him!!

    The very sad fact is The Provincial and Federal Governments have put forward Hundreds of $ of Hard Working Tax Payers Dollars to provide over 8,000 Housing Units for Homeless and other Disenfranchised People yet the Homeless Problem continues to grow!!

    When will MSM begin to ask the “Tough Questions” of Mayor Gregor and the rest of the Poverty Pimps?

    How can any Elected Government in a City that has one of the Highest Cost of living anywhere in North America expect Hard Working, Family Raising, Tax Payers to continue to support the laughable and absurd Dream of Mumbles Robertson to CURE HOMELESSNESS!!

    “Build It and they will Come”!!!!!!

    And keep coming!


    (Response: Most interesting statistic …71% of homeless had been in Vancouver less than a year. What’s that phrase…”If you build it, they will come”. Vancouver’s compassion towards homeless reminds me of Europe’s earlier compassion to refugees: who could not be moved by the visuals/idea of so many poor people …incl elderly and kids ..seeking Europe. But others…economic migrants… saw that compassion as a weakness.. and are now flooding the continent …overwhelmingly much of Europe’s already weak economy and services. It may seem awful to say No …but what other choice does Europe and Vancouver have? h.o)

  42. 13 says:

    At least in Vancouver if we turn someone away we dont have to pay a penalty. $250,000.00 per refugee that you dont accept.

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