Shuttered Shops & Homelessness

Businesses and shops throughout Vancouver are closing up and moving out to avoid high rents, leaving behind empty storefronts that Vancouver police said become attractive shelters for the region’s homeless.

On Feb. 23, Vancouver police working in downtown Vancouver told members of the  Vancouver Police board on Feb. 23 that shuttered businesses on downtown streets encourage homeless and street camper occupation.

VPD patrol officer Blake Chersinoff said that the team at the Granville South Community Policing Centre encourage “street campers” to move away from commercial storefronts during the day, but they return every night.

It’s the same thing day every day.

“We go to them, and work with the homeless outreach groups,” he said. “We help when we can.”

Columbia Street in  New Westminster is also transforming rapidly. 

There are 33 storefronts that are closed along Robson, Granville and Burrard Streets, the areas falls under the jurisdiction of the Granville Community Policing Centre’s area.


Businesses in New Westminster are also finding it hard to stay operational as rents rise. Several long-time shops are moving off Columbia Street because of rising rents, including Paper Poet, a printing store that prints wedding invitations.

The owner told me she was moving the bulk of their operations online, and closing her storefront. They have offices on Clarkson street that they will continue to use to consult with clients, but the shop on Columbia also sold stationary and trinkets for letter writers everyone. She also had to sell several of her vintage printing presses.

Her old shop space remains vacant. As does the space two doors down which Bosa Properties rented for six months to promote its pre-sale offerings for complex that will open in 2018 in front of River Market.

Across the street, three shopfronts are also shuttered.

Complete Communities

Downtown and economic revitalization are central elements to most of the region’s 2040 plans, as part of the goal of creating complete communities. These concerns are outlined with Metro Vancouver and on the websites for New Westminster, Burnaby, and other cities and townships in the region.

Unlike bedroom communities, where people live in one place and commute to another for work, complete communities, according to Metro Vancouver, are areas that offer a full lifestyle. People can work in where they live,  reducing reliance on cars for commuting and other carbon-creating activities.


But, downtown shops remain empty.



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