B.C. Liberals: Yaletown small business tour shows impacts of NDP’s failed housing policy

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, accompanied by MLAs Jane Thornthwaite and Sam Sullivan, toured several Yaletown small businesses on Tuesday that they said have faced the brunt of unintended consequences from Premier John Horgan and the NDP’s failed housing plan.

“The NDP’s housing approach is failing our most vulnerable citizens and is devastating local Yaletown businesses and neighbourhoods. Their decision to convert former motels into shelters without any onsite clinical supports is wreaking havoc on the neighbourhood,” said Wilkinson on Wednesday. “Vulnerable people are simply being warehoused by this government without the help they desperately need and, in turn, the local area is seeing major spikes in crime, property damage, and threats to residents and employees.”

BC Liberals say that since this government began warehousing vulnerable populations in hotels throughout the province without the necessary onsite supports, the conditions around these shelters have deteriorated and neighbouring communities and small businesses are being left to deal with the consequences. Local Yaletown small businesses like Roxyburger, Reckless Bikes, Domino’s Pizza, and Brunch Vancouver have all seen abrupt negative impacts to their operations with staff harassed, customers feeling unsafe, and regular occurrences of property damage, thefts, and threats.

“Real supportive housing requires full wraparound supports in order to actually help people. By failing to provide the 24/7 onsite mental health, addiction, and recovery supports that at-risk populations need, the NDP government is putting vulnerable citizens at risk and local small businesses in danger,” said Thornthwaite, BC Liberal Mental Health and Addictions Critic. “By simply warehousing human beings in places that aren’t equipped to provide them with the mental health and addictions supports they need to get well, the NDP are all but guaranteeing this situation will continue to spiral out of control and solve nothing.”

Just hours after the owner of a Domino’s Pizza spoke with the Official Opposition, one of his delivery drivers was violently assaulted and had to receive medical attention.

“These small businesses are being subjected to property crime and threats of violence, all while losing customers who no longer feel safe in the area. Despite the deteriorating situation, every single owner we spoke to was full of compassion and desperately wanted to see these people properly cared for,” said Sullivan, MLA for Vancouver-False Creek. “Everyone involved wants to see positive outcomes for those suffering from mental health and addictions here in Vancouver. So why isn’t the NDP doing their job and acting on behalf of British Columbians who want to see these people helped? We deserve so much more from this government.”

Bryan D., owner of Domino’s Pizza, said: “There has been no communication from BC housing or the B.C. government. The move of the homeless encampment to the area my business is located has resulted in increased crime. We have had multiple thefts, break-ins, attempted robbery, and continuous harassment of our employees. We have had to install extra security cameras, a new door security system, and GPS systems for our electric delivery bikes as they continue to be stolen. Employees have chosen not to work at this location because they are not safe.”

Jay Bomford, owner of Roxyburger, said: “What is happening now is not only scary and depressing but comes at a time when our businesses are struggling more than ever.

“My day usually starts early when I arrive at work and begin cleaning the human feces that is left on our front door and back steps. I step over a plethora of used needles trying not to get them jabbed in my shoes as they often do. I try to talk nicely to the people using my parking space to shoot up that I need to park as I am working in the building. This is the way I begin every day.

“My staff has a new policy that no one leaves alone as there have been several instances of violence or threats of violence towards them. Some again are questioning if they feel safe enough to work on this part of Granville since the new residents have moved in. I have spoken with many regulars that don’t feel safe coming to the street anymore as they are accosted and threatened. I have even had a few say that they are selling their places in the neighborhood because they no longer feel safe to enter and exit their homes that they have lived in for years. I feel for them and understand.

“There will not be much left after all my staff and customers and the residents on nearby streets have been scared away.”

Ian Turnbull, owner of Brunch Restaurant, said: “There is always someone shouting or fighting on the street. We’ve only been open for a month and I’ve already seen things that I didn’t think would happen in Canada. Just last week someone shot an explosive at a passing police car. I’m concerned for my family who come to Brunch. My kids ride in on their scooters for a visit and see all of this. Our customers have to deal with it as well. Our staff has to work extra hard to try and erase the signs of these issues. I don’t even have the heart to ask them to clean up the back alley and end up doing it myself, sometimes after a 12-hour shift.

“I feel like whoever made the decision to put these people downtown just wanted a quick fix and didn’t want to help the people who are suffering and certainly didn’t consider the consequences to those in the neighbourhood. Don’t get me wrong. I realize these people need help. I just don’t think putting them all together in our city’s core is the place where they will get it.”

1 COMMENT

  1. This article is misleading and requires correction. The converted Howard Johnson Hotel on Granville St. and the Buchan Hotel on Haro St. provide support services to the residents. There is no evidence that the alleged increase in crime in the neighbourhood is tied to these housing projects; it is more likely that any increase in crime is attributable to the economic effects of COVID-19, mainly lost employment, as well as the high cost of living in the downtown core.

    When the NDP government converted these hotels into support homes, it was merely their rapid response plan to house people in need who were already living in the area. These housing projects did not attract more people experiencing homelessness to the downtown core, but rather got them off the streets and into homes with bathroom facilities, which has likely helped to reduce the amount of feces that Mr. Bomford needs to clean up.

    The Buchan Hotel specifically provides support for women in need, and the Liberals’ disapproval of these shelters gives me the impression that they’d prefer these women be on the streets than in housing.

    According to letstalkhousingbc.ca, the supports found in these housing projects are as follows: “Both hotels will have wraparound supports where people have access to services such as meals, health care, addictions treatment and harm reduction, as well as storage for personal belongings. The sites also have 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood.” These projects clearly provide support services to the residents but this article implies they do not.

    As a person who lives in Yaletown, I appreciate the support for those who are experiencing homelessness in the downtown core. I’m also disappointed by the comments of my MLA, Sam Sullivan of Vancouver-False Creek. Being someone who should know all the facts about a housing project in his riding, he has decided to take advantage of small business owners to try to mislead the public.

    If the Liberals truly cared about homelessness in the province, they would have made it a priority during their 16 years in power. In the NDP’s first term, they have actually taken meaningful action to address this challenge. It’s disgraceful for the Liberals to attack the most vulnerable people in our society and to use small business owners as patsies to falsely accuse the NDP. This is not the kind of behaviour or leadership that our province deserves from our elected officials.

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