Here are some tips on dealing with panhandlers from somebody who does it on a regular basis. There are a lot of people out there that have no choice. They closed down a lot of wards at our mental health facility and there weren't enough group homes for them to transfer people to so they ended up on the east side.
- Be polite, even if you can't stand them when they ask you for change respond with "sorry I can't today" or something along those lines. It will prevent you from being harassed or verbally abused.
- Be selective, if you are a bleeding heart and inclined to give money to panhandlers be picky about who you're giving it to. Choose the people who are providing a service such as shoe shinning or selling things they've made over people who are just sitting there demanding money.
- Find an alternative, if you don't want to give them money maybe take the time out of your day to stop in at one of our many veggie markets and buy them some fruit. What is a 34 cent orange? Or maybe even a smile to brighten their day.
Vancouver is ugly and all of it's citizens live in deplorable conditions. The homeless (junkies, mentally ill and alcoholics) are just as well off as the working class. Most yuppies and professionals are more unpleasant to deal with than the bums. WARNING! Do not spend your money or your time in this city for any reason not even the olympics 2010. This is the most disgusting, disappointing and depressing place to live. Everything here is a facade! Stay out! I am working very hard to move away from this real hell on earth. Downtown Detroit and New York are safer.
When you get around Gastown, which is the funnest place to go at night, you will run into alot of colourful (nicely put) characters. Just watch your self, especially the more east you go, the worse it gets.
However, generally, anyone who will actually approach you is quite harmless and just asking for money. They will not hurt you and are usually quite friendly considering their situation. But overall, walking around there at night is not the best display of society at all.
If you wander through the Gastown area of Vancity be warned that if you walk too far..and head too east you enter a very dodgey area with a lot...A LOT...of beggars and junkies and god knows what else...people having full on conversations with themselves...people not afraid to approach or follow you. Being 2 girls on this trip we were a little bothered by how close the bums actually get to you. I live in Toronto, for crying out loud, and I have never seen more street people than I did when I visited Vancouver!! It was surprising, actually, because I had heard that they had a bit of a "bum" problem but I was not expecting to see so many wandering the city centre!
Walking back from Chinatown, I'm looking for my Mazda car I had parked in this area. I see some weird looking people around there... I press my purse closer to my chest and accelerate my pace. I'm so intrigued that I start looking at those people. There's no particular type of people...you see women, men, caucasians, asians, africans... but their common point is that their eyes are in the vague...
I didn''t know it back then, but I'm in fact "Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood having hard core drug problems.
The positive thing though is that Vancouver tries to deal with this problem with innovative solutions like offering addicts to get their fix from nurses and doctors (around 600 injections a day paid by the Canadian government) to try to protect them from diseases, keep them off prostitution and to break the circle of violence...
They are out in force in Vancouver especially in areas that attract tourists as well as downtown. Gastown has security posted .. Just don't make eye contact and they, for the most part, leave you alone.
Becareful where you are, especially around China Town. Avoid going down Hastings street at all cost. It is dangerous and filled with junkies, and the mentally ill. Many purse has been stolen here...and many a car broken into. I was lucky to have someone warn me as i was walking toward the street.
While Vancouver is undeniably pretty from a distance, up close it has become an appalling stew of junkies, beggars and scavengers that is unrivalled in the developed world. It is easily the most annoying and depressing city I know to walk around in. You will be hounded for money from one end of the city centre to the other, you will see countless drug deals taking place under the incompetent eyes of the local police, and you will see the full effects of failed drug policies. This city has the highest crime rate in North America, so don't ever, ever leave anything in your car or it will most certainly be broken into or stolen. I suggest you delay any planned visits until the city gets its act together, or you will be truly astonished by what you see.
Along the streets of downtown Vancouver, you will see TONS of beggers and homeless people. See, I'm a nice person, so when they would try and stop me for money, I would tell them no I don't carry any, and they would be so polite and say things like "thank you anyway" or "have a nice day" or even "God Bless You"....So it kinda makes you feel bad!
Note: I suggest ignoring them if you don't intend on giving them anything, or if you are a softy :)
While I would not classify the homeless population in Vancouver as dangerous, there are quite a large number of them there owing to the City's mild year-round climate. Many of them will ask passersby for money, but don't feel that you must give them any. They are quite harmless.
Another local warning I would say, not really a danger but Vancouver has a lot of homeless beggars that parole the streets.
They are just like beggars in any other city, nothing more special about these ones.
They say the climate in Vancouver contributes to the problem they have. It is very mild on the west coast of Canada making it a lazy man's job I guess.
Panhandlers, beggars, homeless - whatever you want to call them - they're a part of Vancouver life. Generally they'll ask for chaange and leave it at that but don't be surprised if a couple swear at you which did happen to me...it just depends on your character how you deal with it. Ladies - just keep walking.
I know it is a problem in all big cities, but Vancouver seems to have an overabundance of beggars and street people. There is a big drug problem (heroin) and it has made for a big homeless population. Try to give only when you feel they are sincere, it is neverending and they can be very aggressive and intimidating at times.
If your looking for trouble youll find it. If your not, understand the size of Vancouver brings big city trouble with it. Stay with people you trust and know. I spent two weeks here with no trouble but I drove through areas you wouldnt feel the need to stop at and not to blame crime on the homeless but as an indicator of other problems Vancouver has a surprisingly high number.
I saw quite a few beggars in downtown Vancouver. Some asked me to loan them a nickle or a dime so they could make a phone call; they shouldn't call it a loan because I'm sure they wouldn't pay it back. I guess asking for a dollar or two is too much, so they ask for dimes - they save up for a bottle of mad dog or whatever.