Crime and disorder: Vancouver building chief says tired tenants leave downtown

Vancouver –

Ayala Rome has lived in the West End since 2015. For the past three years, she has managed two apartment properties. She says the state of the neighborhood has gone downhill since the pandemic began.

“It’s not nice to walk around; it does not feel safe, ”Rome said. “As a construction manager, I sometimes have to pick up needles and pregnancy tests from my front door, and that’s not nice. I do not want to touch them at all. ”

The West End is usually one of the most sought after places in Vancouver, but Rome said she has more vacancies than usual and sees tenants moving out of the neighborhood out of frustration.

“They are not happy here anymore, they do not feel safe, it is not clean,” she said.

It follows ongoing reports of crime and street disorder plaguing downtown.

In the latest incident, the Vancouver Police Department released a video of a hotel concierge being chased by a man carrying a knife.

There are now growing calls from business owners to hear from Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

John Clerides, owner of Marquis Wine Cellar on Davie Street, says he holds Stewart accountable.

“A mayor’s primary function in a city is to make its citizens feel safe, to be safe, to make sure they are safe; it does not happen, ”Clerides said. “He is absolutely sitting on his hands and watching Rome burn.”

Stewart’s office said he was not available for an interview but issued a written statement.

“I know the VPD takes this issue seriously and their statistics show that this work is paying off. Every category of crime is down or staying stable compared to before the pandemic,” the statement reads in part.

In response, the VPD spokesman has art. Tania Visintin said many crimes are “hugely underreported.”

“Car thefts dropped sharply due to the pandemic, resulting in fewer people parking on the streets and fewer visitors outside the province,” Visintin wrote in a statement.

“What did not fall were violent crimes (assault, assault with weapons, domestic animals, etc.).”

Clerides also disputes the mayor’s claim that crime is falling or sticking.

“He (Stewart) is out of his mind,” Clerides said. “I’ve never seen so many windows smashed on Davie Street in the 44 years I’ve been down here.”

NPA mayoral candidate John Coupar believes Vancouver has a “public safety issue” and that citizens are giving up.

“I hear from a lot of people all over town that they do not feel safe when they go out,” Coupar said. “I think what has happened is that people are not reporting it because they just do not see action.”

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