New York City Puts Vancouver to Shame!

What a pleasure! How enjoyable!

I’m not just referring to the fun of travelling again … my first trip away from BC since March 2020 … but what it was like to spend time again in New York City … including Times Square.

The Square, and the area around it, has changed.

I have visited New York many times over the past 60 years … and remember the old days, when sleazy Adult stores/theatres, the “Last Days of Sale!” ripoff retail outlets, the bums, the crazies the thieves, and dirty streets and sidewalks made the Times Square area somewhat foreboding.

And then there were the street preachers (my favorite was Rosie!) who, protected by the First Amendment and their displaying the American flag, harangued the passing crowds about the trials and tribulations awaiting us in Hell if we did not immediately repent.

That’s changed … a people-friendly place now: with a large open plaza area, dozens of tables and chairs, even a set of bleachers … perfect for enjoying a snack, a picnic lunch, people watching … and, when I visited, some pretty good gymnastic street performers put on their own Broadway show.

There are even bike lanes, cars and huge numbers of pedestrians peacefully co-existing side by side.

All of it protected by the visible presence of New York police and Times Square Security officers … and a clean-up crew, who keep the area from 42nd Street to 47th Street spic and span.

What a wonderful place Times Square is now: close to my hotel, it became a great outdoor venue to relax, have a coffee/snack and enjoy the sights/sounds of New York.

And exposing how putrid Vancouver’s downtown Granville Street has become … the rot here now spreading like a cancer up Davie and Robson Streets too!

What a contrast!

Vancouver’s core is like a giant pot filled with human beings, most of them oblivious to the truth that they, their neighbourhoods and their businesses, are slowly being poached to death by chefs at City Hall who have increasingly turned up the heat over time, killing them off.

If the media ever showed a comprehensive map outlining all the homeless housing, druggie assistance centers, social agencies for troubled youth, mental health services sites the City, aided and abetted by the NDP provincial government, have DELIBERATELY piled into and around Granville Street … right up to Burrard, the “people” would be appalled!!

Civic ‘governance” in Vancouver has become all about serving and servicing the down-and-outers … and to hell with the working middle class, the taxpayers, tourists and the businesses who pay for it all.

Vancouver’s downtown core has become a disgrace … often unsafe now during the day as well as at night.

Since I moved to Vancouver 50 years ago, I have come to know many, many people who live and/or work in the West End, Yaletown, Kitsilano, Fairview Slopes, Strathcona, Chinatown.

NOT ONE of them EVER shops or dines downtown anymore.

It’s too filthy, littered with discarded needles, drugged up addicts, aggressive panhandlers, and just plain crazies … crowded into an area that has become just an extension of Hastings/Main.

I sounded the alarm about this in 2016:

Since then, it has gotten WORSE!

Today, Davie Street and Robson are also in decline, with smashed/boarded up windows becoming quite common, aggressive panhandlers and violent shoplifters intimidating the local businesses and neighbourhood residents. Many seniors are already afraid to go out, stroll and shop the commercial avenues … let alone stop to relax on a bench!

The decline is so widespread now, it will take a lot more than increased police patrols to save the area.

Yet, most of the media have remained oblivious (waiting for a press release?) or have failed to maintain sustained coverage that the destruction of Vancouver’s downtown deserves and is now so visible.

And it’s rare to see any reporters putting the tough questions about the mess to the radical lefties now in charge at City Hall whose policies and actions created and have encouraged the decline.

How sad that the politicians, planners and bureaucrats … have been able to get away with that … happily FUNDED by the NDP government in Victoria.

And by the way, it’s not that New York City has just left its homeless out in the cold.

Under its own moderate left-leaning “progressive” Mayor Bill De Blasio, homelessness assistance and spending has more than doubled, from $1.2 Billion U.S. in 2014 to $3.5 Billion U.S. in 2020.

None of this is to suggest social problems increasingly burdening our society should not be dealt with … or doing even more.

But unlike Vancouver, civic leaders in New York City haven’t been so stupid or ideologically blinded to the point of buying up hotels right in the heart of the downtown, moving hundreds of homeless into them and opening up a plethora of drug, mental and social service agencies right there to cater to them.

And Vancouver’s “leaders” wonder why it has become uncomfortable at best, even dangerous far too often, to park, visit, shop, dine on Granville … or anywhere near it?

Vancouver’s downtown has been destroyed by the incompetence and negligence of City Hall.

New York City puts Vancouver to SHAME.

What an enjoyable place their downtown has become to visit!

And how about this: I was not only able to enjoy coffee and a snack at a table in Times Square, taking in the neon signs, the liveliness, the passing parade … I was even able to sit there and enjoy smoking my pipe!

Without any anti-smoking fascists hosing me down.

So nice, relaxing in Times Square became a regular part of my morning, evening coffee/snack routine each day of my visit.

I luv New York!

Harv Oberfeld

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36 Responses to New York City Puts Vancouver to Shame!

  1. D. M. Johnston says:

    Vancouver is a dump.

    It has become a city without a soul; a dystopian short story that no one cares to finish.

    In its ever expensive quest to become “world class”, the city will have seen spent $3 billion or more and a 5.8 km subway to nowhere simply because “world class” cities have subways.

    The poor and homeless, you say? Let them eat cake.

    I operated a store in Vancouver’s downtown for over 20 years, from 1983 to 2005 and I saw the slide start, post Expo 86. It started gradually, but the slide continued and not one political did anything as hubris is the main politcal theme at City hall. I bailed when the parkades smelt like urinals, and cars were broken into at light speed.

    Tourists stopped coming (I admit 9-11 didn’t help) and business all but disappeared. I read the tea leafs and departed.

    It has only gotten worse.

    I do not go to the downtown anymore and in fact I try not to go to Vancouver, though I am forced to for family obligations.

    Vision(less) Vancouver brought us the real NDP and it was not nice. Poverty increased, the homeless in creased and the city politicians did nothing as they still do nothing.

    As Premier Photo-op the 2nd’s chief advisor is former Vision(less) Vancouver Councillor, Geoff Meggs (who seems to be the real power behind the throne), I see no solution, no nothing in the short or long terms and Vancouver will remain a dump.

    The current lot a city hall, except for one or two councillors, want to continue the city’s tax and spend regimen and achieve nothing.

    Vancouver has lost its way and in its never ending quest to be “World Class”, it has become almost unlivable for the poor and middle income families and a sort of playground for the monied class, including drug dealers and money launderers, with many living in vertical gated communities.

    Alas Vancouver, I once knew when it was a fun and livable city and now, is now just a cheap CBC parody comedy, no one cares to watch.

    (Response: I’ve always found travel to be highly educational: seeing and experiencing a city, a country, a culture is so much better than reading about it or catching other people’s perspectives on tv. And in this case (visiting New York, Montreal and Ottawa, it really hit home how BAD, UNSIGHTLY, UNSAVOURY, UNSAFE Vancouver has become under the NDP, COPE, Green, One City governance municipally and provincially. Their pandering to down-and-outers, at the cost of everyone else, has destroyed Vancouver’s downtown core and now expanding to other neighbourhoods (Davie, Robson, Yaletown). It’s appalling … but since it has happened slowly, one new social agency/homeless hotel at a time, many people see it all as “normal” … until they get away to other towns and cities. h.o)

  2. Stu de Baker says:

    While not denying or challenging any of your comments, comparing Vancouver to NYC, here are a couple of my own;
    –while culpable and not without blame, the blight began long before the current bunch of wastrels came to power.
    –eight million people visit Vancouver annually and return home with the same positive words, which you use to describe NY.
    –locals, rather than doing, or even demanding, something different, just line up to state they avoid downtown.

    (Response: You’re living in the past when you say “eight million people visit Vancouver annually and return home with the same positive words, which you use to describe NY.” Since March 2020 … very few tourists have travelled here and maybe we should be thankful of that: if the cruise ships were still docking and the tourists from Europe, Asia were still flocking here, I think the words they would use when they left would be: “Beautiful setting, gorgeous scenery, friendly people and great restaurants … but a really ugly downtown, full of beggars, homeless and drug-users, some shooting up in full view … felt very unsafe”. Not a pretty postcard. As for how long the deterioration has been going on, you are correct: many years (thus my slow frogs being poached analogy) … but let’s keep it real: the worst decline under the left-leaning social activists running Vancouver after Gregor Robertson and his cohorts were elected did terrible damage to the downtown area by starting to move the homeless there and this has accelerated over the past four years under Kennedy Stewart and the even worse radicals now in charge at City Hall…elected and appointed. h.o)

    • Keith says:

      The damage was the NDP’s closure of Riverview without providing an effective and funded alternative model, and the BC Liberal’s callous thirty percent cut in welfare and the minimum wage. Couple that with their corrupt real estate policies and you have the fundamental causes of the human misery in the city of Vancouver.

      A city with the mentally ill and addicted put on the street, with massive cuts to the income of the poorest in society, and the promotion of building real estate unaffordable to 90 percent of the locals for fifteen years is a recipe for civic disaster. Victoria is suffering it’s own version of the same fate. Municipal government doesn’t have the resources to cover provincial shortcomings, which are at the core of these problems.

  3. Randy Helten says:

    Many points made and we need to note that the BC Liberals were in control about 17 (2001 – 2017), followed by the BC NDP about 5 years so far (2017 – 2021), and Vision Vancouver about 10 years (2008 – 2018), and the current mixed council about 3 years (2018 to present). So presumably all of the above contributed to the current situation or are you saying one party is more responsible than the rest. And more importantly, you have pointed out the problems, but do you have concrete recommendations to fix things up? Finally, if you are comparing NYC to Vancouver, perhaps compare Times Square with the Art Gallery square.

    (Response: Of course, Vancouver still has many really beautiful people-friendly spaces, but I would not compare Art Gallery Square to Times Square in almost any way! When I moved to Vancouver in 1971, Granville was a very vibrant shopping and dining street: we used to stroll it regularly (bring back the White Lunch and Mr Mikes!). I believe the decline began when the City decided to remove cars north of Nelson. They hoped it would become a people place, but it largely became a hangout spot for street juveniles, especially in the evening. And there was almost no policing to keep vagrants from harassing passersby. Without easy vehicle/customer access, businesses started to fold. And then the geniuses at City Hall started to raise the parking rates on nearby streets… very expensive now. Since then, with low voter turnouts, the radical left, backed by their activist base, has taken increasing control … and with policies, building acquisitions for homeless housing, social agencies (with provincial NDP government funding and support) have now basically turned the whole area from Drake to Robson over to the homeless, drug users, troubled juveniles ..and just plain crazies, scaring most of us away. The damage now extends up Davie, Robson, into Yaletown and even Strathcona!! How to reclaim the area …for the majority? First, get rid of the NDP/COPE/Green social activist radicals running City Hall … both elected and management. Then convince the province to help move the homeless housing and all the agencies that cater to them AWAY FROM what used to be the city’s PRIME shopping/dining/theatre/tourist area, then the homeless/druggies/crazies will also move along, increase police presence so panhandlers/drunks stop harassing people, then rework the public areas (streetside cafes, tables/chairs to attract pre-and after movie diners, people-watchers, bring in family-friendly street musicians and performers, substantially lower nearby meter parking rates … and, how about this, let people sit there, enjoy it all …and even have areas where we can smoke a cigarette, a doobie or a pipe while we enjoy a coffee or even a glass of wine or beer!! How’s that for a starting point? And the City didn’t even have to pay a “consultant” $150,000 to come up with it. h.o)

  4. Marge says:

    I think Vancouver has turned into a cesspool thanks to the “woke” politicians who believe that catering to the drug needs of the denizens of the street is the way to go. Growing up with an addicted brother whose mother enabled him no end, I saw closeup what the end results would be and they weren’t good, let me tell you. Giving in to the druggies is not the solution. I think I just recently heard some local politicians wanting to supply “clean” drugs (meth, heroin and cocaine) for all those addicted. Is this going to help or is this going to lead to people from all over the country flocking to the land of plenty and available and free drugs?

    A couple of weekends ago a friend and I decided we would like to go shopping on Granville Street to go to a couple of stores we hadn’t been to in a long while. Let me tell you that we got quite the eye opening. Streets and streets of homeless people, parks filled with homeless tents, this is what we witnessed. And this is was not at night when things get worse, I am told. In the middle of the day, people were lined up on the streets, just being there! You couldn’t walk past them, they were occupying whole sidewalks and not moving for anyone. I realize that the homeless have a lot of issues but the way the Vancouver politicians are approaching them is not the solution at all.

    By the way, my friend and I decided that at the end of the day, it would have been safer to have shopped on line! We will not be back anytime soon. Those poor business people in Vancouver deserve better but the average person (seeing what we did) isn’t likely to venture into an area that is totally unsafe and unsanitary.

    (Response: It’s not just locals who have noticed the severe deterioration. I received the following from a Blog reader back East, a retired Political Science professor from my Alma Mater, Concordia University, who now writes poetry/prose. He visited Vancouver in 2013 and has now sent me a piece he wrote back then:

    “Vancouver Reflections: On Hastings Street

    By Marvin Hershorn

    Hastings Street presents the human flotsam and jetsam

    Of the city scape, of disheveled losers, of the marginalized

    The alienated, the druggies, the invisibles in the city

    No one sees them in the streets, the stealth transients

    Expunged of emotions, silence is killing them, anomie kicks in

    Though they are still present, loitering vagabonds, feeding pigeons

    Glaring into restaurant patios, talking to the deaf-eared diners

    The badly tattooed, why? They are already marked!

    The dreamers, the terrorized, the fragile, the walking wounded

    The suicidal, the helpless, the discontent and the lonely

    The mandala configuration, the human ecology of the oppressed

    Washing away like porous sandcastles on barren beaches

    They wake up, struggle on the street…permanently

    They trade, and barter and negotiate what little they own

    The cigarette butts, the cheap wine, a Blue Jay baseball cap

    Their bodies, their dignity, their lives, their remaining values

    Looking for another fix or a hit of bad shit

    The ritual paraphernalia of getting high on vagrant Opioids

    With mystical and transcendent potency

    Something to make them forget who they are

    Being reconciled with the past, is no redemption

    Or what they are…living on the cognitive dissonance streets

    Or where they’ve been, or where they came from

    The transient underclasses know that…

    The altruistic cops know who they are…the mentally challenged

    There are incoherent quarrels with the mentally ill

    The law’s captive madmen unplugged

    Who are out of control? Corruption unplugged…a manic ride

    Their lives are over; nothing will change

    But they walk zombie like… on the dead end sidewalks

    Day in day out until they die…and no one will care

    As they search for a sanctuary, an oasis from the desert of their lives

    A warm hug, a friendly smile, a street worker’s empathy

    A transient priest, Jesus still saves…a church service

    Aloneness sucks big, tourists take pictures of their scraggly faces

    Toothless, unbearably incompetent within their chthonic realms

    Photogenic ugliness sells the darkness of the apocalyptic mask

    We are grotesquely fixated on the haunted faces

    The chronic social albatross, the old men on the streets

    The faces of the lost…benign spirits, a rider less horse

    Can you imagine not knowing anyone…in the whole world?

    Their polymathic street smart empty narratives…horrendous hexagrams

    Embracing judgment, death, hell and heaven

    Both the beauty and the brutality radiates through

    More vital than ever…On Hastings Street”

    And let’s keep it real: it’s WORSE now, spreading like a cancer to not only from Hastings to Granville, but up Davie and Robson, and into Yaletown. Thanks to the incompetency and blind ideology/policies of the extremists running City Hall and their allies in the NDP government in Victoria. How long will the majority of Vancouverites stay silent? How long will they
    not even bother to vote …and let COPE, Greens, One City and the NDP Mayor continue to ruin/destroy Vancouver’s core? How long will the media do nothing or an occasional story and then move on? Vancouver’s downtown is in a crisis … and it’s even being written about elsewhere!!!
    By the way, Hershorn and two other teachers down East have had their observations published in a book, “Teachers in Autumn” so his words/observations deserve have credibility h.o)

  5. NVG says:

    As to your request of a “comprehensive map outlining all”, there is Vancouver Coastal Health’s 346 agencies. First up is “Mental Health and Substance Use Housing”

    Its a bare bones database, complete with links, spelling out what programs and services that are provided, not just downtown Vancouver.

    (Response: Thanks, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are not only several Granville area hotels now filled with homeless and mentally challenged, but also assistance/treatment health centers to serve them, addiction centers, drop in centers, troubled youth social centers, even a needle exchange … right in or abutting what used the city’s main shopping/dining/entertainment street. The city needs these facilities …but to put the right there on and around Granville Street … has of course led to those living/using them to take over the area. Who in their right minds would put those put those facilities there … except City Hall radical social revolutionaries driven by ideology and who have never invested/owned a business in their lives! And Horgan and his government have FUNDED it all! Shameful what they’ve done to Vancouver’s core! h.o)

  6. John's Aghast says:

    Thanks Harvey, for your International perspective.
    It gives one hope that if NYC can clean up it’s act perhaps, given time,
    Vancouver MIGHT achieve the same. But there has to be a massive change!
    Part of the problem is this little gem I happened upon:
    ” In 2002, the Liberal government limited social assistance to two years out of any five
    year period for ‘Employable people without children.’ ”
    Why in the world should “Employable people without children” be considered for ANY social assistance? Unemployable perhaps, but employable?

    And I gather it has deteriorated from there. Nineteen years of degradation and all the ills you’ve described has snowballed into the crisis we’re experiencing and it’s spreading. Kamloops is a good (bad) example of these out of control experiments.

    (Response: I may not always sound like it, but I try to be compassionate for those who have tough times. If people are employable, but still not working, it may be because they lack skills for the better jobs and the ones they could get don’t may enough to even cover rent, let alone food, clothes etc. so I think society has a responsibility to help them out: in Canada, no one should be on the street without shelter or food. BUT that doesn’t mean they should get free apartments, while others get up every morning and work all day just to get the same. And they certainly shouldn’t be installed right in the centre of the city’s prime shopping/dining/entertainment district downtown …unless you want to deliberately destroy it … and benefit the suburbs. h.o)

  7. NVG says:

    Thanks for the trip, tip, on the benefits of Times Square compared to Vancouver’s Granville Street, but, you must have caught it on a quiet day, mid Covid helped, because normally ‘it attracts 360,000 pedestrian visitors a day, amounting to over 131 million a year.’ I’d think, that under those conditions, people, it may not be as good as Granville Street.

    (Response: Actually, there were still thousands an hour passing by: I had been there before pre-Covid several times and had noticed the changes they made in the Times Square area. But this time, I stayed at a hotel right around the corner, so the Square area became my “backyard” ..and it was while sitting there enjoying a coffee (and yes, a donut from Krispy Creme nearby …shhh!) that I fell in love with the people-friendly ambience, the cleanliness … and the feeling of safety. Clearly New York did not deliberately move their homeless and druggies and mentally ill into the area purposefully through policies and projects …as did Vancouver City Hall and their NDP accomplices in Victoria !! h.o)

    • NVG says:

      Harvey, if you hadn’t mentioned Krispy Creme I wouldn’t have gone to Times Square ‘today’ via Google Earth. But I did. And then I did an image search for Times Square to spot the Krispy Creme store, and up popped this:
      October 11, 2021
      It was only a matter of time before a visitor was murdered in Times Square. That victim was Maria Ambrocio, a 58-year-old New Jersey cancer nurse who came to New York City on Friday (October 8th) to have lunch with a friend. Afterward, she and her friend were walking through the heart of New York when an alleged mugger after having just robbed one woman in her apartment and another woman on the street, slammed into Ambrocio at high speed …..

      Ambrocio’s death wasn’t a freak accident—it was a predictable and preventable homicide. Times Square has been a mess for months.”

      (Response: I’m unfamiliar with both the “journal” you cite, which I’ve seen described in Wikipedia as “published by the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research” or the writer …so I have no idea whether it is indeed a clarion call exposing what’s happening there or is similar to those right wing “articles” we see on the Internet that say the Covid vaccine is killing people. But whatever the problems, the Square draws more than 300,000 pedestrians a day and they sure seem to be working on making it better …not just encouraging/turning the area over to the homeless/druggies/aggressive beggars and crazies. As I noted in my piece police and Times Square security were highly visible: I felt quite safe and relaxed … both daytime and early evenings…something I sure can’t say about Granville Street!!!. h.o)

  8. RIsaak says:

    A very real, growing issue in many regions of BC.

    The occupation of “poverty pimp” has exploded in recent times. The hoards of folks making very decent wages off of this scourge costs us immensely, and seemingly returns far less than stellar results, yet their numbers are increasing exponentially.

    14 years ago I had some interaction with one of the lower eastside, government funded poverty pimps. They seemed overjoyed that they had helped 18 people get into BCIT, they (9 people) were gloating over their success while dining at a $50/plate, government funded lunch. Gaining admission to BCIT is fairly simple, can be done in a few hours (my grandson says 20 mins depending on line ups) but we paid these folks very handsomely to achieve 2 enrolments per salaried employee per year? The notion that a bunch of college kids can carve out a very lucrative career while achieving such mediocre results should end their employment and see the money moved into a more results oriented program. These PP’s were actually stumping for money from the company
    I worked for, a speedy review by us revealed a slew of financial questions which went unanswered and were met by much disdain by the PP’s. I personally think a motivated person with a 7 passenger mini van could easily achieve a better success rate at helping down & outers enrol in BCIT trades training, and all without the free, taxpayer funded lunches.

    Civic govts., Provincial govts., Federal govts., all dabble in poverty politics these days, mental health care is the solution, hoards of well paid, government employees have failed to effect a positive result in many instances, but our elected seem to keep tossing more $ at a failing model, why? Why no real effort to effect permanent change? The massive bankrolls of government seem endless to them, tax increases are about to ratchet upwards, and as usual, tossing even more money at failing programs continues in unabated?

    We have the same scourge in the interior, be it Kamloops ( the old section of downtown is fast be becoming DTES north), Vernon with crackheads etc. living beside hwy 97 in shanties by the river and Poulson park, all the small towns here also have mentally unstable, substance abuse addicted, crime creators. Are we spending the same on these small town addicts? I see no real effort made in the north Okanagan on this issue, why?

    Governments seem oblivious to the questionable results we obtain from the huge pile of money spent on the down & out, why zero real attempt to get better results? Why no real new effort to help the masses of marginalized other than all the current programs, many of which seem to be very satisfied with the status quo?

    A very sage older First Nations friend of mine opined this on Trudeau’s first 2 terms, “He divides Indian Affairs into two ministries, saying it would help us, all I see is more employees and the same rotten service”.

    (Response: Terrific information … and a unique, personal perspective. Thanks. Governments too often seem to judge the success of assistance programs based on the total amount spent, not the results. Clearly the BILLIONS various governments and agencies have ploughed into the downtown eastside is NOT working… it’s worse than ever. And what is City Hall’s (NDP, COPE, Greens, One City) answer? Spread of the homeless, the druggies, the chemically-infected crazies to the main shopping district and into the residential areas of Yaletown, West End. Just think of the damager these far left radical extremists will do in the next year!! And what will happen if so many Vancouver voters stay home again, let the far left activists get their base out to control the vote, and we still don’t get rid of the radicals running City Hall in the Fall 2022 Civic Election! h.o)

  9. Not Sure says:

    I grew up in Vancouver and moved up north after graduating from UBC in 1974. I have never regretted the move. So if someone says Vancouver sucks, I am not going to jump very quickly to its defense. Nor will I spend much time trying to defend Vancouver against these attacks: That it is “a city without a soul; a dystopian short story that no one cares to finish.” That it is “a cesspool thanks to the “woke” politicians who believe that catering to the drug needs of the denizens of the street is the way to go.” That it is “filthy, littered with discarded needles, drugged up addicts, aggressive panhandlers, and just plain crazies”

    So bash away. I hope you get what you are looking for but I am a bit surprised at some of your comments. Let’s specifically start with the poem from your friend. It is a great poem. But I am not sure you and I are seeing it the same way. I read it as a sympathetic view of the street people of Hastings.

    The dreamers, the terrorized, the fragile, the walking wounded
    The suicidal, the helpless, the discontent and the lonely…

    No one sees them in the streets…
    Though they are still present, loitering vagabonds, feeding pigeons
    Glaring into restaurant patios, talking to the deaf-eared diners.

    We are grotesquely fixated on the haunted faces
    The chronic social albatross, the old men on the streets
    The faces of the lost…benign spirits, a rider less horse
    Can you imagine not knowing anyone…in the whole world?

    (I love “deaf-eared diners” by the way.)

    If we don’t ache for these people. But according to you if we were shown a comprehensive map outlining all the homeless housing, druggie assistance centers, social agencies for troubled youth, mental health services sites the City, aided and abetted by the NDP provincial government, have DELIBERATELY piled into and around Granville Street … right up to Burrard, the “people” would be appalled.

    I know you are more sympathetic than you are sounding but it appears that you see these poor people of Hastings as a blight that is spreading “like a cancer” into the downtown core and services provided for them “shouldn’t be installed right in the centre of the city’s prime shopping/dining/entertainment district unless you want to deliberately destroy it and benefit the suburbs.”

    So Vancouver politicians are deliberately destroying downtown Vancouver to benefit the suburbs?

    Where would you provide the services? the suburbs? What do you think should be done to get to where you hope Vancouver should be?

    (Response: Professor Herschorn’s poem was indeed sympathetic to the plight of many of those we see in the Hastings/Main area …as am I. As a society, we could/should do more to provide medical and social assistance/programs to help those who want to be helped. But NOT in, on and around the city’s prime shopping/dining/ entertainment street/area. That is just NUTS in itself!! Or incompetent! Or a result of blind ideology that places the down and out AHEAD of jobs, services, safety of everyone else! Or deliberately designed to destroy the city’s business core, get rid of cars there … even if it pushes businesses, jobs, the tax base further out to the suburbs! h.o)

  10. e.a.f. says:

    Welcome back. Happy to hear you had a good vacation.

    Yes, Vancouver has become a mess and its been going downhill since Art Philips closed Granville St., to traffic. This wasn’t Europe and once it started to deteriorate no politician did much of anything to change it. The DTES has slid from a rather vibrant area where people walked and shopped until the homelessness increased and the area could no longer control the problems. Everyone ignored it except of course the Union gospel Mission, The United Church in the area and the Salvation Army. All three organizations could have told the politicians what was needed. I remember when the United Church opened their church at night in winter because the homeless had no where to go. Had the government started to work on issues back then we might not be where we are today.

    I recall at the time, around the 1980s, the Vancouver Sun, did a series of articles about homelessness. One homeless man was quoted as saying, “if you’re not crazy when you hit the streets, you will be after you’ve lived on them for a year”. There in lies the problem. We don’t “catch’ people when they start to fall between the cracks.

    The homeless problem was made worse by the fent. trade. People got so addicted and so fast, without places to detox, etc. No real help was available unless your family could come up with tens of thousands of dollars to place you in a program for 3 months or more. When fent. was really getting a grip on our cities the provincial government stood around and did nothing. At least Alberta banned pill presses. Christy Clark did nothing. I can recall reading about the Surrey strip and all the dealers. Open air drug markets.

    In Vancouver the same has happened. It does drive down property values, but sometimes I suspect there are those who benefit from that. Once an area is blighted, they can buy, redevelop and money made.

    I don’t need to go into Vancouver to see it, though I’ve driven through and saw it all, you can see it on a smaller scale in Nanaimo, the effects of the drugs. There is no longer a safe supply of drugs in this province. You see street people severely addicted or mentally ill wander around, with behavior which is frightening to the public and the people themselves must be so unhappy with their living conditions they continue to do drugs. Its how the survive their surroundings. Some areas and people look like something out of the middle ages. How can we as a society let others live like this.

    Yes, handing out free clean drugs is a solution for some, but there has to be more than just the drugs, there needs to be support services and they can’t all be in one location. It makes it so easy for drug dealers to find their market/customers and no police to stop it.

    Buying up hotels was the fastest solution for the government. The public didn’t want street people on the streets, so put them into buildings, but that didn’t accomplish much. These people need help. Judges need to get a grip. The revolving door we have in the court houses have got to be glued shut. It reminds me of the silly line of , go forth and sin no more. Right, that line never worked. Judges release people with orders but they aren’t followed anymore than abusers who are ordered to leave their exs alone follow judges’ orders. Some of them know its the price of being a “crook”, others are too far gone mentally for them to change without a lot of help.

    Of course sending people to jail costs money and even there drugs get in.

    If we are to “clean up” Vancouver the city needs new politicians who know what they are doing and that goes for senior beaurocrats also. All three levels of government need to step up with money which is used to help people, not go on a hiring spree. Pencil pushers don’t solve the problem. Vancouver doesn’t need another subway/skytrain. It needs to deal with the drug problem and homeless.

    Riverview or a replacement needs to be opened, not just on the lower mainland but in several locations in the province so not all problems wind up here.
    Severely addicted people need medical help. When I see some of them on our streets . How did they get that way? WellI just shake my head and wonder how did our society get to this point. I saw it in my neighbourhood. It takes approx. 2 months for some one to go from “normal–going to work, etc” to not knowing who they went to school with or that they lived another life previously.

    The police know who the drug dealers are, street level and the main organizers. they need to be arrested and sent to jail or medical treatment. It will be costly but an extra 40 police officers on foot on the Granville Strip and DTES arresting dealers, drunk in public, etc. Camping on the streets, needs to stop. Where will those people go? If they want to camp, the government can build them a camp ground. we have a lot of them already but this one would be different in a very rural area, with no towns close by. Judges need to ban repeat offenders from the areas they offend in. Mostly though government needs to start working with people before they get to the stage they are at, living on the streets.

    There are some people who will always be addicted. Supplying them with clean drugs is the smart thing to do and provide them decent housing, but not in 50 or more people in one location. The government needs to figure out who can benefit from services to “get clean”, those who never will, those who are mentally ill, etc. Just doing that will be an enormous task, but if we don’t do anything, we will have areas that look like something out of the middle ages and the person who lives in those conditions or dying could be some one you care about.

    Our first responders are run off their feet with over doses. We can not keep this up.
    Yes, the current mayor needs to find another job. The 4 from the right need to forget about it. There needs to be serious people who run for the jobs on council. Perhaps then we can get back to looking like we did and it was fun to go downtown and enjoy yourself. Yes, there was a time as a teenager you went downtown to Granville St., with friends on a Saturday, went for lunch and a movie and your parents didn’t worry.

    (Response: I don’t blame the homeless, the mentally ill or even the druggies: they are just gathering/circulating/spending their days and nights where City Hall and the NDP government put them! As they said in the movie …” If you build it, they will come!” Well, COPE, the Greens, One City and the NDP HAVE built it .. lots of it … and now the homeless, the druggies, the panhandlers and the mentally ill street people are ALL there …as City Hall and the Provincial government destroy Vancouver’s downtown. And it’s already spreading to Yaletown, Davie and Robson … scaring local working residents (imagine leaving for work in the dark at 6 or 7 a.m!!!), and no doubt forcing many families and seniors to stay very close to home. h.o.)

  11. Not Sure says:

    I am not defending Vancouver, nor am I attacking New York. The problem is real for both. You questioned NVG’s article because you weren’t familiar with the publication or the author. Short google search of “New York homelessness” got me this on the first page of hits.

    New York Post who describe plenty of problems with homelessness in New York and give examples from Times Square.

    or The Daily Mail

    How about Reuters with more examples from Times Square.

    Honestly, I have no idea what the best solution may be. Are the services provided in the downtown causing more people to head downtown (build and they will come as you say) or do we need to build them where the people are. In one of the articles I read (not one of the above because I wasn’t familiar with the publication), the writer said that punishing people by making it harder for them to get shelter is counter productive.

    In other words, providing services in South Van will not bring the people to South Van. Most of them will stay where they are with no services rather than move to unfamiliar territory. That is the writer’s opinion of course but that is something we have to consider.

    I think what I am trying to say Harvey (and I am the last to claim any expertise here) is if we don’t trust the politicians and if we don’t trust the so called “poverty pimps” and if we don’t trust sources in the media because we aren’t familiar with them or question their bias and if most of society doesn’t care because they don’t live or work in the troubled area and can shop in any number of other areas including on line, how the hell will this ever get solved.

    If anything we have to start with the root cause and deal with poverty, drugs and mental illness before it spreads uncontrollably onto the streets. We need to be proactive rather than reactive and how often does that happen?

    Nice if there was an easy answer.

    (Response: Of course, there are homeless in New York City … lots of them. The difference is City Officials there don’t allow …or assist/encourage them … to take over Times Square or Central Park or Broadway’s shopping area like the extremist lefties now running City Hall, and their allies in the NDP government, have inflicted in Vancouver. I’m not saying these unfortunates don’t need. deserve help (if they want it) but not in the shopping/dining/entertainment core of the downtown! What the City/NDP have done to Granville … and are now spreading into Yaletown, Davie and Robson is a disgrace. h.o)

  12. e.a.f. says:

    Yes Harvey, the organizations you mentioned did build it, as you say. However, you fail to mention the B.C. Lieberals who built and did nothing and the problems started back then with the drugs and homelessness. By the time the NDP was elected the problem was in “full bloom”. the NDP’s reaction was, build housing for these people as fast as possible. It did spare some from dying on the streets in bad weather or from illness brought on by living on the street. At least the people have a roof over their head. It is truly too bad others have to live with the problem of the drug addicted and homeless but what is the alternative. No housing for the homeless and drug addicted. There have been winters people have died on our streets frozen to death. Is this what we want? Had the B.C. Liebrerals done something besides make IPPs rich and enable drug dealers and money launders we might not be here today.

    We can object to the way various organizations have handled the “solutions” to the problem, but at least they did try, which is more than we can say about the B.C. Liebrerals.

    I note your comment about people being afraid of being out when its dark, they’d rather stay home. One could say this is a first world problem. At least they have a home and job. those that frighten them have neither and are desperately ill.

    the majority of people who are mentally ill don’t get the treatment they need. If they go to hospital, they are asked if they are going to self harm. If the answer is no, they put you in a room and leave you there. Eventually you get tired of sitting there and leave. There are not enough child shrinks–psychiatrists, in this province nor beds in hospitals for children with mental health problems. If you want to see a psychologist, it costs you money and a lot of families can’t afford that. It might be about time the ,provincial government starts to cover psychologists. Its fine if you have money and can afford the fees for your kids, which can run up to $200 an hr. How do working people afford it. The kid then starts self medicating. What is a parent to do? Private care in a good facility can run tens of thousands of dollars. Only the well to do have that kind of money.

    No one wakes up one morning and says I’m going to be homeless and an addict as a career goal. Now there are those who wake up one day and decide being a successful drug dealer ……….there is money to be made. Then the B.C. Lieberals let them launder it through the casinos. At one time laundrying your profits had to be done in other manners, such as setting up a company which looked legit and some even worked at it. Today its so easy to put the money into the housing sector.

    Unfortunately the RCMP has made several stupid mistakes in their investigations, i.e. the surrey 6 trial. The B.C. Lieberals made things easier by disbanding RCMP provincial squads. /that is how we got to where we are and others in an attempt to help those who were homeless and/or addicted are now vilified. We may not like what they are doing, but at least they are doing something, which is more than we can say about the B.C. Liberals.

    Drug addiction is a complex problem and we’re leaving it to politicians who rarely have the expertise to solve the problem., Those that work for them frequently are simply learning as they go along.

    it would be interesting to interview some of the homeless and addicted so we had a clearer picture of who they are, how they got there,, where we as a society, missed the boat, so to speak in helping people.

    If you have a child who is having a mental health crisis, it can take over two weeks to see a professional and that if you know the system and have money. Now try that at min. wage and working two jobs.

    The difference between being crazy and eccentric is the amount of money you have in the bank. read that 40 years ago. It was true then and is now.

    It was like back in the day, if you had money and a heroin habit you could live a decent life, go to work, etc. Its why we had functioning alcholoics people who drank like fish but still went to work each day and functioned, Knew more than one of them. Their “drug” of choice was affordable, they had homes, they had people who made sure they were feed and clothed.

    Mental health problems aren’t going away in our society. the drug trade flourishes. There aren’t enough well thought out services. and we wonder why we are where we are. Perhaps its time to have a good look at the way things are handled in Portugal.

    (Response: Looks to me like you’re trying to “spin” the lefty radicals and the NDP government in Victoria out of their very apparent disastrous policies/actions/funding that has made Granville Street a “no go zone” for so many! The issue of this blog is not the problems or reasons behind homelessness, drug abuse, or so many mental illness victims on our streets: it’s WHERE the ideologically blind radicals at City Hall have put so ,many of the facilities catering to them (housing, social service centres, medical and needle exchange etc) … right in the HEART of the city’s shopping, dining and entertainment district!! Ridiculous! Incompetent! Has already destroyed the city’s core and is now moving on, spreading into Yaletown, up Davie and Robson streets. And you can’t blame the Liberals for what has been going on for the past eight years: it’s the result of destructive projects developed and put into effect in/around Granville Street by the NDP, COPE, Greens and One City. h.o)

  13. e.a.f. says:

    They put the services where the clients are. There is no point in putting housing and clinics in Kerrisdale,etc. First the tax payers would revolt. they would protest 24/7 to try to prevent anything in their areas which would lower the values. Where would City Hall put these facilities? really I’d like to know where people think the services ought to go.

    As you point out the problem is moving into Yaletown, Davie and Robson and there aren’t services there. It could be an increase in addicted and homeless or some homeless and addicted feel safer in these areas than in the DTES or Granville St.

    This problem, homelessness and addiction has been in the making since the 1980s. When various political parties, in office, put services to accomodate the addicted and homelessness people still weren’t happy. Where do people want these services or do people not want services for people and just let them die. Without the services which are in an inconvient spot to many, if they weren’t there how many people would be dead?

    As to Granville St., it hasn’t been a great area since the days it was turned into a no car zone. We just have different problems now. The housing is there because that is where the addicted and homeless live. If they don’t have housing they die on the streets. What are we to do? Let the homeless and addicted just die? I know some people think the addicted and homeless aren’t worth saving, but who are they to make those decisions? Its not fun or pleasant to have drug addicts live next door. Our neighbourhood found that out, but how can we let those people die? It would seem some people care more about the welfare of animals than they do human beings and yes those who are drug crazed addicts and homeless are human beings.

    Harvey your article is good. You point out a problem we all know is there but no one seems to have a solution that voters and politicians will buy which are consistent with the Constitution. If we didn’t have addicts and homeless people we wouldn’t have the problems you noted. How do we fix it?

    (Response: You wrote “They put the services where the clients are.” Absolutely untrue in the case of the Granville core! Our civic “leaders” ATTRACTED the homeless overflow there, away from Hastings Street, by establishing “temporary” housing for down and outers in a parkade off Granville, near Helmcken, then bought an old hotel nearby … increasing the “temporary” housing supply …and then, away they went …adding more and more (funded with the help of funding from Horgan) and THEN added service centres for druggies, places for troubled youth and finally even a needle exchange !!! Right on or abutting the city’s main downtown shopping street! Geez!!! Either TOTAL incompetence …or DELIBERATE destruction of the businesses there …for some ideological jollies. h.o)

  14. NVG says:

    Harvey could, would you, categorize every elected Council member just so I, and perhaps others, will know who you object to, strenuously, some times, because based on your current name calling method of “radical lefties”, “left-leaning”, “far left activists”, and “lefties”, well it leaves me in the dark as to whom you are actually upset about on Vancouver Council, or for that matter Parks and School Boards. With this information I could recommend to others in 2022, Vancouverites of course, of your advice on whom to vote for. It would also help me when I go back to your previous Posts, comment sections.

    Who are the Lefties?

    The 2018 election results:

    Carr, Adriane (69,730) Green
    Fry, Pete (61,806) Green
    De Genova, Melissa (53,251) NPA
    Swanson, Jean (48,865) COPE
    Hardwick, Colleen (47,747) NPA
    Wiebe, Michael (45,593) Green
    Boyle, Chistine (45,455) OneCity
    Dominato, Lisa (44,869) NPA
    Bligh, Rebecca (44,053) NPA
    Kirby-Yung, Sarah (43,581) NPA

    (Response: Your list is out of date… some elected to a particular slate for Council are no longer a part of the same. But just reading/listening/watching the news over the past few years and looking at what they have done to the City and how they have raised taxes over and over again on struggling property owners, it’s very easy: Lefty Extremists: Greens, COPE, OneCity; Very left, the Mayor (former NDP MP); centre right; NPA. ALL the Greens, COPE, One City should be sent packing in the next civic election … replaced by NPA and other candidates from new slates who care about the WORKING population, families, seniors, businesses … you know, actual taxpayers !! h.o)

  15. NVG says:

    Property taxpayers, you’re one, are tipping in 59% of the City of Vancouver’s Operating Revenue budget for the upcoming year. What are your thoughts on eg. Downtown Vancouver Churches being flipped because the parishioners are ageing out, bound for nursing homes, property is no longer needed, the only requirement for the exemption to continue is one room, one cubicle, be provided to pray in. One minister is selling off the property at today’s assessed value even though from their very beginning they were subsidized by property owners like you Harvey. The proceeds from the sale are then shipped overseas. Dan Fumano, Joanne Lee-Young’s article on “State of Grace: A reverend and his real estate, and how he fills in gaps in seniors Care”?

    Its not an issue just for your City, but every community across British Columbia.

    (Response: Religious institutions provide many social/spiritual services that people badly need …so I’m not against them having tax-free status on those parts of their operation that fit those needs. And yes, we all (owners and tenants) have subsidized their operations for years. But when a dwindling congregation sells, if the site goes for residential or commercial uses, the city will then benefit rom future taxes, based on the new assessment/evaluation, so I’m ok with the current situation. h.o)

  16. JC says:

    Interesting, your last point about being allowed to smoke in Times Square. I thought post-Bloomberg, New York City was totally draconian in its attitudes to smokers. I remember the musician Joe Jackson got so sick of the restrictions on public smoking, he left NYC after 25 years and moved back to Europe!

    I agree with your last comment about throwing out the Greens, COPE, and OneCity mob from the Council (and School and Park Boards for good measure). The only trouble is there are so many candidates standing who will split the centre/centre-right vote, I’m fairly certain the Mayor will be re-elected. The election should be the NPA’s to win, given all the problems in the city, but they seem fairly divided too.

    Another problem when it comes to the decline in public order in the City, is that so many of the policy tools needed to address it are beyond the power of the City Council. Riverview is still closed (I think the NPD said they would bring it back in some form, not sure what the status is on that), so in the short/medium term, we’re going to be stuck with a lot of mentally ill people wandering the streets. Harm Reduction (as opposed to detoxing and getting people off drugs) is the policy solution of the times, and we’ll be stuck with a lot drug users wandering about. Another problem is all the prolific offenders. Again the city can’t do a thing. The damage was done by the Gordon Campbell Liberal government when they gutted the Corrections department 20 years ago. The Downtown Vancouver remand was closed, and several other provincial jails were shut in the Lower Mainland, along with major staff layoffs. Without any place to put them, the prolific offenders keep getting bail, probation, or suspended sentences and go on to commit more crimes, and not just property offences either, violent one’s too.

    Remember that homeless encampment at Strathcona Park last year? Two of the ‘residents’ broke into a home near Queen Elizabeth Park and murdered an elderly woman living on her own. And when the VPD went to arrest the accused, they were attacked by the other campers in the park! Not a very happy story but I think it neatly sums up the growing disorder in Vancouver. I think the public are getting sick of it but I honestly don’t see anyone in the governing class who are willing to do something about it.

    (Response: You are absolutely correct about the danger of splitting the vote: I’m sure it’s exactly what Stewart s counting on! It’s time for the moderate centre right to come together, put the City first and convince several of those putting themselves forward for Mayor (without a realistic chance of being elected) and get behind ONE candidate who actually could defeat Stewart. I’d say that’s Sim … who came so very close clast time. And then, the City needs a slate of partially NPA and partially new Councilors, who make it clear they want to take back the city from being a free homeless haven (often for people from outside the Vancouver area and even BC) , and provide services for the druggies, the mentally ill, but outside of what should be a vibrant, welcoming the shopping, dining, entertainment core area. h.o)

  17. HARRY LAWSON says:


    I disagree that they put the services where the people are.

    I served on a committee that recommended bringing mental health and addiction services to every neighbourhood in Vancouver. The staff would travel from location to location .

    We saw was the ghettoiaztion and concentration of services as being detrimental to outcomes

    We received push back from the unions all the way up.

    Mental health and addictions know boundaries ,does not matter what social economic group your in.

    Homelessness is in every neighbourhood in Vancouver.

    (Response: Clearly ghettoization and concentration of services is what City Hall and the NDP government have CREATED … and it has destroyed Vancouver’s downtown … and is now spreading, endangering Yaletown, Davie and Robson areas. Many thought I was exaggerating or over-reacting in 2016 when I warned about how City Hall was allowing, even encouraging the spread of Hastings/Main problems up Granville too. Well, look at it now! A disgrace; a tragedy; a festering cancer … thanks to the lefty extremists now in charge at City Hall … aided and abetted by funding/encouragement from the NDP provincial government…. and a tame media allowing it all to go on without hard questioning or OUTRAGE! h.o)

    • Jane Burkart says:

      Moving it to every neighbourhood has destroyed the city..
      Mt Pleasant is now crime filled .. not long ago we had a man get his throat slashed on a quiet Sunday afternoon.. Nobody blinked an eye..
      We’ve become conditioned to waking up to stolen property, human feces wherever it lands.. small fires set in laneway garbage bins in the middle of the night.. caught on camera fires set in business doorways.. dial a dope drivers hovering around.. stolen bikes.. strange men following women home forcing their way inside homes.. . .. My friend recently had the daylights beat out of her car with a Hoverboard.. while she was inside the car.. she picked glass out of her hair for days, totally traumatized.. for some reason our hood is now the catalytic converter theft capitol of Vancouver..
      Two BC Housing buildings within 3 blocks of each other is bringing us to our knees.. the non profits managing staff have admitted in community groups.. there are no supports in place.. Bloody nightmare..

      (Response: Vancouver has TWO growing and very serious problems: a radical left-controlled Council who .. by catering to them and providing the best services they can get anywhere in Canada … WELCOME the homeless, the druggies, the thieves, and the anarchists; and then, there are our Courts … a total farce, where judges are so busy, so dedicated to protecting the “rights” of the thieves, robbers, vandals, property destroyers and seven violent criminals, they don’t seem to even realize that it’s ALSO their DUTY to protect the citizens by keeping repeated recidivists LOCKED UP until their trials and then sentencing the guilty to REAL jail time, not just suspended sentences, probation or a few weeks of rest and relaxation in jail before they get out to steal, mug, vandalize and terrify the citizenry again. h.o)

  18. Not Sure says:

    You may be wondering why someone like me is commenting on a post about Vancouver when I live way up north. Easy. Homelessness is a universal problem and even in my neck of the woods there has been controversy over where to place affordable housing.

    You are upset at where the services are being provided. This article (from last March) lists a number of places/old hotels that could be converted for use as homeless shelters.

    The headline mentions the Days Inn on Kingsway at Victoria. Other places mentioned: 2400 Kingsway (near 33rd) the old Army and Navy on Hastings (DTES) another on Terminal Avenue.

    I am guessing you don’t like the old Howard Johnson on Granville. (Although that area never had much of a reputation in the 60s when my much older brother warned me never to go past the Vogue Theatre when as a 12 year old I was starting my downtown adventures with Saturday matinees.) How about the Buchan on Haro? Are you glad they cancelled the plans for one near Jericho Beach in the Point Grey area. (Now why would they cancel that one?)

    After a 47 year absence from living in Vancouver I am not all that familiar with the neighbourhoods and how much they may have changed. But which of the places in the article do you specifically oppose. Where would you be putting them instead?

    (Response: Any parent who would send their 12 year old down to a Granville Street matiness these days should be charged with child endangerment! There is no black and white answer as to where to place facilities housing, serving homeless, drugged up or mentally challenged individuals. We need a variety: sometimes a converted home in a residential neighbourhood could be best; other times fully staffed medical/social worker staffed facility is needed. But NONE of them should be next to schools, in areas where are no services, little transit … or amassed in one area that cripples and destroys the city’s core shopping, dining and entertainment district.. and where it becomes DANGEROUS for children, families, seniors to walk. h.o)

    • Jane says:

      Not Sure .. The 2400 Kingsway site is a lovely location, last year I had a friend stay there after leaving hospital.
      But the location is somewhat isolated, a McDonalds next door it’s sort of isolated. It would make a great location for homeless seniors.
      What isn’t in the article the city also purchased the Best Western at Kingsway and 10th for folks that moved from Strathcona Park encampment.
      It’s 2-3 blocks from another site the Biltmore. The area has become a crime ridden mess too many in a close proximity. The Kingsgate Mall has had to hire double the private security guards.. yet you just watch folks walk out with stolen goods because it’s less dangerous than confronting them.
      The city is in desperate situation.. the attacks are so random. It’s really sad.

      (Resopnse: Nothing will change with the current radical left City Council: they’re actions and inactions have put out a Welcome mat for the homeless, druggie, and thieves …and now we are all living in greater fear and chaos. h.o)

  19. Gilbert says:

    The decision to close Granville Street to traffic was fine, but it needed to include all traffic. This means no buses as well.

    To make it decent, it needs to remove the homeless and drug addicts, and put them in another area. Maybe the left wants a lot of its supporters in the downtown area, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of destroying the downtown.

    Another way to make the downtown nice is to have a visible police presence. People need to feel safe. Then we can have a much nicer downtown.

    (Response: A Granville pedestrian plaza from, say, Georgia to Nelson …leaving the cross streets open for traffic … with outdoor patios, a stage or two, could become a great people gathering place, but you’re quite right: the homeless sleeping in doorways, or hanging outside their free government hotel rooms, the drug users shooting up, the beggars etc have got to go FIRST …and then there would have to be an on-foot police presence to protect young adults, families, tourists the plaza could attract. You know, the ones who would SPEND money there, support the businesses … not just attract drug dealers, police cars and ambulances. But let’s keep it real: that will NEVER happen while Stewart, COPE, the Greens, One City control City Hall. h.o)

    • NVG says:

      Vancouver’s ‘Pavement-to-Plazas’

      “We’ve led a Pavement-to-Plaza program at several locations over the past few years with the support of community partners. The program aims to provide high-impact, low-cost public spaces through action while planning.

      Inspired by New York and San Francisco, we convert road space into people places –usually in neighbourhoods with:
      High pedestrian traffic
      Vibrant retail
      Public bike share
      A need for more public space
      Ontario – 5th Plaza
      18th – Cambie Plaza
      Bute – Robson Plaza
      Main Street and E 14th Avenue
      Jim Deva Plaza
      Adanac-Vernon Plaza

      Not Sure / Harvey Oberfeld 7th Plaza proposal:

      Granville Street from Nelson to Georgia

      High pedestrian traffic??? Well not right now, too many beggars
      Vibrant retail???? Well no, not right now, too many buses and beggars and the buildings are run down due to the …. beggars
      Public bike share???? No, the ones that aren’t stolen, off ramp and go north on Seymour already to avoid the proposed plaza streets
      A need for more public space??? We’re still trying to figure out where the public will park their cars because the buses would have re-routed around the new plaza

  20. Not Sure says:

    This is an interesting topic Harvey, so let’s sum up. There is a growing problem of homelessness in the downtown area of Vancouver. You are not opposed to providing services/shelter for these people but you fear the concentration in the downtown core.

    Sidebar: one of the things that bothers me about this topic is the marginalization of these people. Nobody wants to see some “bum” sleeping in the doorway of some business but not all of them are dangerous. Who are the people moving into the Granville area – the helpless or the harmful?

    The reason I ask that is because we want to help the people who desperately need our support and will probably go wherever the support is offered and then we can deal with the drug dealers, aggressive panhandlers etc. in some other way.

    But that aside. The article I linked details several locations of buildings/hotels that can be used for shelter. Two on Kingsway, the old Army and Navy in the DTES, one on Terminal Avenue, one on Haro Street closer to Stanley Park than downtown, the old Howard Johnson on Granville closer to the bridge than what I remember the downtown shopping/movie area. That same article linked to two previous stories about 140 homes being proposed at Arbutus and 8th and another 90 homes at the corner on King Edward and Knight Road.

    Isn’t this the spreading out away from the downtown core that you want?

    I know this problem can’t be solved quickly enough, but is the Vancouver council on the right track with these proposed locations? Or are they still missing something?

    (Response: The terrible damage has already been done: take a stroll down there sometime a group, never alone now! Not only did the province buy a hotel on Granville, but also the Bosman Inn a block away …and I believe room are also being rented by taxpayers for welfare recipients in other hotels in the area. On or right near what used to be the city’s PRIME main shopping/entertainment street!!! And then, of course, opened all kinds of social and druggie service sites close by to cater to them. Now it look like a mini Hastings/Main area … and getting worse by the week. Ridiculous! A killer of business, for sure … but the extreme lefties don’t care about businesses/workers/taxpayers’s all about their blind ideology to cater to down-and-outers, the druggies, the mentally ill to the point I think some of them ENJOY pushing them into the faces of taxpayers who actually work, own property and have money. h.o)

  21. nonconfidencevote says:

    20+ years ago I used to drink in a pub just off the Granville strip on Howe St
    It was frequented by the likes of Jim Green, (senator)Larry Campbell, and some hangers on.
    I would play pool with Jim when the place was slow ( he was a pretty good pool player).
    I sat and talked with him many times. Nice guy. We disagreed , argued, laughed, never got too serious about most things.
    A municipal election approached.
    Jim convinced and coached one of his acolytes( who’s name shall remain anonymous) to run for a position on the Parks Board.
    This person had never been in politics and didnt know anything. Jim held this persons hand and guided them through the entire process….what to do and more importantly, what to say…at all times.
    The “coaching sessions” were usually held in the pub.
    I will never forget the evening of the election.
    The pub became their “base” to view the results.
    When it was announced that the person won the Parks Board seat….. they burst out laughing in disbelief.
    Cackling and crowing as they hugged Jim, the King maker.
    On they have moved to bigger and better.

    Poverty Pimps doesnt even come close to describe what these people are.

    (Response: I hate to admit it, but so few people take the time to have any knowledge of or even care who runs for City Council (in almost any BC community), and those who delve into the candidates for Park Board or School Board are even fewer. The net result … with a fairly low turnout are Councils, Park Boards and School Boards elected by radical activist and lobby groups, who DO get their supporters out. People have to wake up and realize THEY end up paying the price ,financially and in quality of life for decisions made by the extremists now in control and who cater to others! One thing that would help: the local TV media, perhaps because they don’t know or are just lazy, often don’t identify Party/Slate affiliations when identifying Council Members, or park Board members etc… like they do provincial ad federal elected officials. It would really help if they showed the Part/Slate I.D. …so voters get a greater idea of how the Council and Boards are run (COPE, Greens, OneCity) and how their ideology affects their voting on issues. h.o)

    • NVG says:

      ‘It would really help if they showed the Party/Slate I.D. …so voters get a greater idea of how the Council and Boards are run (COPE, Greens, OneCity) and how their ideology affects their voting on issues.’ h.o)

      Why is it Harvey that you make the distinction of only including three examples of how THEY run the Council and Boards. (COPE, Greens, OneCity) and leave out …. your …. NPA and Independents et al ( eg. Kennedy Stewart). This is your blog ……. but you leave the impression that those not named by you are somehow impeccable in all matters and should be trusted.

      (Response: Well, if you noticed I left out the NPA in giving examples, you should have also noticed I left out listing the Mayor’s NDP affiliation and those who are Independents in making my point. But I would agree … ALL party/slate affiliations should be identified. h.o)

  22. NVG says:

    Harvey, would you like to see your city run by only NPA Councillors who you favour, or are you open to let in others with like minded beliefs eg Independent Kennedy Stewart? Do the Independents vote as a block (against your beliefs)(Except for the Mayor?)

    On the vote to bring in plazas as you know it, casinos saw the benefit of them after the success of Expo 86 Plaza of Nations. ( (reports/votes on plaza).

    So a question regarding your ‘Granville plaza’ here. Have you knocked on doors looking for support from community partners there? Have you asked Councillors, all, if they would support a Granville plaza?

    I find it interesting though that very few of the commenters here actually live in Vancouver. Lived perhaps, once upon a time, but not eligible to vote now, or they were too young to vote back then. Hands up, those that voted in Vancouver’s last election! Did you vote in your municipality’s election?

    Harvey, you don’t have to raise your hand. Oh, wait a minute, were you so disgruntled with the candidates and their associations on the ballot that you abstained?+

    (Response: Those who have been following this Blog for some time (or those who use the Search section to check it out) would know I have also been critical of the NPA. Read: and also The NPA is one of a number of new parties/slates/independents who seem to be organizing and shaping up for the next civic election … so although I have no recommendations on individuals or slates yet, I have agreed with many of the center-of-the-road positions put forward by the NPA Councilors currently on Council but have seen NOTHING that makes me feel ANY of the COPE, Greens or One City Councilors, Park board or School Board representatives should be re-elected. Too extreme, too intolerant and too disrespectful of those who do actually go to work, invest in businesses, shop, seniors and handicapped or just trying to raise families, buy homes and pay the taxes in the city. And they have done TERRIBLE DAMAGE to the city’s downtown, the parks, Stanley Park … and don’t get me started on the HORRIBLE condition of so many Vancouver streets and avenues these days … except the bike lanes, of course. h.o)

  23. Not Sure says:

    Let’s try one more (4th) time. If you think I am being annoying I am just following the lead of an intrepid reporter who kept pressing until he got an answer.

    I have asked you if you are opposed to some of the proposed sites and I haven’t got a direct answer and your last response surprised me. You said it was too late, the terrible damage was already done.

    I don’t know Harvey. You are shining a light on a very real problem but if it is too late to do anything why bother.

    There is so much to like about this topic, not least of which for me anyway is a flashback to my urban geography course that I took in my first year of university in 1969. I don’t remember much from that course but the prof did spend considerable time on all the planning involved in deciding on the best location for a gas station. This topic could be a textbook case study on where to locate social housing.

    Here is an interesting article explaining why the Howard Johnson on Granville should NOT be used for housing. It is a really good article and while it is just another opinion, he makes a convincing case. (Don’t know anything about the dailyhive but they seem to cover this topic more than any other media source.)

    It also mentions a potential development at Drake and Richards which is close to what he calls the Granville Entertainment District but far enough away to be worth considering. That’s why I am asking about the other proposed spots.

    You hate the majority of the current council – not my council so I don’t care one way or another when it comes to Vancouver elections – but I am still curious if you are prepared to acknowledge that some of the proposed sites on Kingsway or Arbutus or King Edward or Terminal are at least a step in the right direction.

    (Response: I didn’t respond to specific sites for the same reason I seldom like public referenda on policies: I am not the expert on exactly which building or block homeless/alcohol/drug treatment housing should be located. Decisions should be based on client needs and existing available services nearby, but also impacts on the local community, especially seniors and proximity to schools, potential impacts in the way of property and even violent crime, and even transit proximity and frequency. Unfortunately, what we have all now witnessed what a disastrous decision it was by the NDP Mayor, his radical lefties on Council and the NDP government in Victoria to place HUNDREDS of housing units for those down and out (and all the ancillary social/medical/needle services they need) right in the heart of the city’s Granville/core area shopping, dining, entertainment district! Sure looks to me like city planners, social planners and their elected “masters” have been ttalkly incompetent or just made terrible, terrible poor decisions. h.o)

  24. Not Sure says:

    Not completely on topic but you and NVG are sort of talking around it. I don’t know how many civic governments are as politicized as Vancouver. I know my city councillors very well (small town), and might have a broad idea of where most of them fit on the political spectrum but I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it. Not so Vancouver.

    Here is an article on the politicizing of the local election in Edmonton where some NDP MLAs have endorsed certain candidates in various wards.

    I might have voted in one Vancouver election before I left Vancouver in 1974. That would have been in 1972. I honestly can’t remember if my 21 year old self voted and I especially can’t remember who I voted for but it wasn’t Mr. Peanut. Art Philips won and he led the recently formed TEAM to battle the (hardly) non-partisan association (NPA) who had controlled city hall for years. And now Vancouver has a whole slew of parties running. I believe it is the only city other than Montreal that has slates of candidates representing a party. And I wonder if that is healthy especially in this day when we are so polarized.

  25. D. M. Johnston says:

    Victoria, we have a problem!!

    The City of Vancouver currently is on auto pilot, a year before the next civic elections and nothing is being done and nothing will be done.

    Oh yes there will be promises and false claims, supported by alternative facts and fake news quoted by all comers to next years civic elections. In the end, nothing will change because change means someone cares.

    The homeless and addicted have become a money mill for all sort of social groups vying for their cut of the public purse. And yes some do very good, while others its a 9 to 5 job with a 6 figure salary.

    Instead of actually doing something, the Premier does nothing, except for photo-ops and 10 second sound bytes. Always, it is someone else’s problem.

    This is not really a federal problem, but many with their own politcal axe to grind want it to be, especially the major city mayors, with their collective hands out for more federal cash, which in the end will not spent wisely.

    Question: “Do you want to spend $1 billion to build quality social housing and a $2 billion LRT network connecting BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park/Marpole/New Westminster or spend, a now, $3 billion for a 6 km subway that is being built strictly for politcal prestige?”

    In Vancouver, the homeless and the addicted can do what they like, so it seems, but god help you if you drive a car because you become a cash cow.

    Historical note: The Granville mall was based on European pedestrian malls, except for the prime ingredient, a tramway, because the success of a pedestrian mall is quality transit. Vancouver didn’t and Granville St. became an eyesore.

    I am no longer appalled at how ignorant our regional and provincial politicians are on important fiscal matters and it is all about raising more taxes, tax homes higher, tax car owners, tax, tax, tax, so the politicians favourite niche groups have their share of cash. In my book, it is nothing more than Greenwash and the homeless and the addicted are poster boys/girls for more and more taxes and unscrupulous politicians want to keep it that way.

    Yet for all this tax and spend, the cancer of DTES is now engulfing the entire city and neighbouring municipalities and cities. The poor are growing poorer and despite the density rhetoric, spread by land speculators, land developers, and their paid for politicians, affordable housing is nothing more than a politcal catchword, and does not rate to be a politcal promise.

    Yes, Vancouver is a dump and is being kept as a dump and until the voter elects politicians who put the city first and not their politcal agendas, Vancouver will remain a dump.

    (Response: This morning, I heard mayoral candidate Ken Sim on CKNW (lost to Stewart by less than 1,000 votes last time) ..and was impressed with how “normal” he sounded: seemed more interested in taking on regular civic livability issues, not fighting another French Revolution on downtown streets against anyone who has a job or money . People can check it out from the CKNW Audio Vault, Oct 17 at 8:30 a.m. for the next week. h.o)

  26. RIsaak says:

    The pandemic, all the city dwellers fleeing to the urban regions has also increased the homeless issue nationwide.
    This is also apparent in BC’s Okanagan, only we don’t get the hoards of Poverty pimps or anywhere the same media attention that the DTES does.

    Home prices here have almost doubled in the past 2 years,

    This region had a lot less visible homeless folks 2&1/2 years ago, but we’re nowhere near as sexy a story as cities are.

    (Response: Homeless, and druggies and mentally ill people, are an unfortunate fact of life everywhere, but I’m not aware of as single town or city where “leaders” spend millions to house them, establish social services for them, open needle and medical facilities for them right on or abutting the community’s main shopping street! This is just nuts! Incompetence from City Hall! Or a deliberate ideologically-driven attempt by radical activist types to serve/cater to the down and outers, even if it destroys the downtown, businesses, kills investment and drives away shoppers, families, seniors. h.o)

  27. NVG says:

    You are on the same page as Daphne Bramham when it comes to there being a need for radical change for eg. Downtown East Side including a Granville plaza

    (Response: Daphne wrote about the terrible conditions … a true tragedy in July …and, as I mentioned i my piece, I sounded the alarm years ago …but it’s getting worse, not better. And I believe a key reason is what Daphne pointed to in her piece:
    “Over 80 per cent of those living in The Downtown Eastside moved there from somewhere outside the Vancouver area.” That’s a BIG part of the problem … the “do-gooder” radical left activists at City Hall have ATTRACTED the homeless, druggies, and mentally ill by offering/funding so much FREE HOUSING than anywhere else, ABUNDANT DRUG SUPPLY, FREE NEEDLES, FREE FOOD and BETTER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES and a LAISSEZ-FAIRE CITY HALL ATTITUDE/TOLERATION of almost every anti-social activity, even if it destroys property, scares business away, intimidates families, kids, seniors and destroys neighbourhoods. Vancouver is reaping what the NDP, COPE, GREENS and OneCity have sown!! And it’s a horror. h.o)

    • NVG says:

      I just went onto Wikipedia to discover that YOU haven’t had a Vancouver City council NPA majority since 2005 -2008. I think what you have to do is organize a way to get that majority back again otherwise your vote will be going nowhere to turn the situation around when it comes to the homeless, and the millions of dollars lost on them.

      (Response: And look what’s happened to the city since! Mind you, I was no great fan of the NPA either, and have written critically of them in the past, but what makes them hopeful is that the COPE, Greens, OneCity and NDP types running City Hall for years now have been MUCH worse, almost disastrous for working Vancouverites, businesses, families and seniors. h.o)

  28. NVG says:

    Good Morning Harvey,

    Bob Mackin’s Blog post this morning is on the last chapter of money laundering and its ‘disgusting’ and ‘distasteful’ effects on downtown.

    Ross Alderson (Sept. 9-10, 2021)
    “But when I came to Vancouver and I would drive from Vancouver head office to the downtown area to go to my meetings, I would drive through Hastings and Main, and what I saw down there, you know, you know, it just — you don’t see too many places in the world. It’s disgusting. And I — I just — the whole thing to me was distasteful, and I felt that I was in a position that I had the information that this needed to be out in the public forum and that was my frustration.”

    (Response: Many years ago, I happened to visit New York’s Bowery area, which was considered a terrible place back then, filled with homeless and druggies. It was not as bad as what became of Hastings/Main! Now, through ill-thought out policies and spending, an incompetent City Hall here …with provincial assistance and funding … has spread Hastings/Main to Granville and it is already expanding to Davie, Robson and Yaletown. Disgraceful! h.o)

  29. TedBundy says:

    Harv, the billions squandered on the 2010 Olympics, lined the wallets of the corrupt IOC, but now 11 years later, we are left with a squandered reputation as a world class city, and usual mindless politicians selling us out in the name of climate change. What’s their next excuse in the race to the bottom?

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