by Harvey Oberfeld
July 17, 2023
It was only a matter of time.
For years now, Vancouver residents have lived … and suffered … from the Provincial government’s decision to buy up or fund more and more Granville Street area hotels … filling them with hundreds of homeless, druggies and the mentally ill.
What were they thinking!
It actually started under the Liberal government of Premier Christy Clark, working in conjunction with Vision Mayor Gregor Robertson and his allies (Vision, COPE, One-City) on Vancouver City Council.
I sounded the alarm, starting seven years ago: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/granville-street-turning-into-another-downtown-eastside/. And again in 2017: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/media-finally-awakening-to-destruction-of-granville-street-under-vision/
Not only was the obvious ignored, but a new NDP Provincial Government under Premier John Horgan (and Housing Minister David Eby!), in conjunction with the even more left radicals occupying City Council (NDP Mayor Kennedy Stewart and COPE/GREEN/ONE CITY Councillors) actually INCREASED downtown hotel acquisitions, funding and operations, to house the city’s most unfortunate.
Right in the heart of the Granville Street shopping, restaurant and entertainment core!
To the tune of hundreds of millions more dollars! (In fact, the NDP Provincial government paid out more than $56 million in 2020 on just one hotel, the former Howard Johnson’s at Granville/Helmcken.)
The result of all this: the Granville area was brought to its knees.
Vancouverites would be shocked if the city’s “working” media compiled a list and mapped out ALL the hotels and other properties the BC Government acquired/owns/operates/funds as social housing, drop in centres , medical/mental services and even a needle exchange now …. in Vancouver’s retail/restaurant/entertainment core, from Hastings to Drake and from Burrard to Seymour.
Making things worse … much worse!
Ideology ruled, and the interests, lives … and safety … of local shopkeepers, businesses, restaurateurs, working residents/families/seniors and visiting tourists be damned!
The result: crazed drug users now regularly careen through the area, wander mid block right into traffic, shoot up or pass out in doorways, and there are so many aggressive panhandlers, shoplifters, thieves and vandals that many retailers, eateries and customers have fled the area.
News reports tell stories of increasing attacks in the area involving assaults, knives, a machete, shootings, even biting and murder.
The violence is also spreading … from Granville Street into nearby Yaletown and the West End.
Vancouver’s Granville and surrounding area, I would argue, is now a perfect text-book example for urban planners of how ideologically-driven politicians (NDP/VISION/COPE/GREENS) and incompetent and politicised bureaucracy can destroy a city’s whole downtown shopping, dining, entertainment and tourist-oriented core.
Locals know what the politicians have wrought … and many now stay away from Granville Street, even during the day.
A few weeks ago, I had no choice: had an appointment mid-afternoon on Hornby, so I parked nearby on Helmcken. Sure enough … encountered a dishevelled man, angry at some unknown/unseen entity almost as soon as I got out of my car. No doubt about it, I felt unsafe walking just a block and a half in what used to be a very calm commercial/residential/retail neighborhood: but I did make it safely to my destination.
But others are increasingly now not so lucky.
Last week, a visitor from New Zealand became the latest victim, stabbed right in the middle of the “entertainment district”, at Granville and Nelson.
Just the kind of foreign publicity Vancouver tourism needs: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/new-zealand-tourist-victim-of-random-stabbing-attack-in-vancouver-canada/FIRVWHZCS5HB7ORMAFUOCIWT3Y/.
Visitors, like Vancouverites, are now reaping what City Hall and the BC government had sown.
And this being only mid-July, how many other tourists this Summer will suffer the consequences of checking out what the Travel Guides call Vancouver’s “downtown pedestrian mall” of shops, restaurants and bars??
TripAdvisor informs the world the Granville area is: “A major congregation spot for all Vancouver’s street performers, jewelry vendors and off-beat personalities.”
Off-beat, alright! Better watch your purse, your wallet, your camera and your back … and beware the needles, the knives and those lurching about, screaming at the world.
Welcome to downtown Vancouver!
Stewart and most of his old Council were fired by the voters last Fall.
But that still leaves the BC NDP government … especially former Housing Minister and now BC’s NDP-appointed but publicly unmandated Premier David Eby.
It’s about time they got called out LOUDLY by the public, civic community organizations and the media for how they destroyed Vancouver’s Granville core!