Commercial Drive businesses link homeless shelter to uptick in crime

WATCH: Commercial Drive businesses blame homeless shelter for problems

Merchants and property managers along Vancouver’s Commercial Drive say they have been threatened with a lead pipe, spat on and pepper sprayed.

Shoplifting, open drug use, human waste and property crimes are just a few of the problems they say are on the rise.

Shoplifters hit the Super Valu at 1st Avenue and Commercial seven times in just one night, says the grocery store.

READ MORE: Charges laid in double Commercial Drive bank robbery and collision

Some say the problems started to escalate when a low-barrier temporary shelter at the corner of Commercial Drive and 1st Avenue opened in 2015.

“Perhaps there are better neighbourhoods suited for this facility,” said Nick Pogor with the Commercial Drive Business Society.

“But when you bring these facilities you have to manage not only the inside of the facilities but also the outside of the facilities. Whether it’s the retail district or the neighbourhood.”

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WATCH: Developer blames city for cancelled Commercial Drive housing project

Developer blames city for cancelled Commercial Drive housing project
Developer blames city for cancelled Commercial Drive housing project

The City of Vancouver released a statement saying issues in the neighbourhood are not linked to the shelter.

“We are aware that concerns have been raised around homelessness in the community, unrelated to the operations of the shelter,” it said.

“The City has received minimal complaints through 3-1-1 related to the operations of the shelter.”

READ MORE: Man stabbed on Commercial Drive in Vancouver’s 16th homicide of 2017

But Super Valu owner Darcey Houser disagrees.

“We bring our boots to the ground experience and they say it’s not us?” he said.

“We’ve seen what has been done when the shelter has been open and when it’s been closed, we know the difference. We’ve been here for 21 years and we have seen an uptick in crime and all of our problems.”

The lease for the shelter expires at the end of June. The City of Vancouver is exploring potential relocation of the shelter but adds it’s important to provide shelter and support in the neighbourhood.