Beggars, homeless & junkies, Vancouver
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.
Already this is becoming my major problem in Vancouver.Homeless people.Now i have nothing against homeless people,however dont come up with a long winded story and say how nice i am.Three times in the last 2 hours i have had the following.I am from Oz,In prison,lost my daughter,going to get thrown out.Second one is I havent got enough money for parking(which i stupidly gave her),Thirdly im collecting for the Samaritans.Watch out for these usual suspects.
I slept in alleys, didn't shower, started with $0 dollars, and roamed the streets for a full week during Christmas time. From Dec 23-30 I ventured out main and hastings late at night trying to find a spot to sleep. I took a notebook with me and wrote about 120 pages of my entire experience. I am blogging about this whole thing now at www.godspeasant.wordpress.com. All I can say is that it is not what people think it is. There are a lot of misunderstood, great, educated, intelligent, sincere, and warm people that are either homeless, or are just living in an extremely impoverished state. To those people that have never sat down and talked to anybody that is homeless, I would encourage you do to so with an open mind and an open heart. That way we can all progress in our society and move towards a better future for us all, whether one is rich or poor.
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.
This is not a very safe city, I think it is worse than people say. Yes Robson street is safe, and yes areas like the west end are safe. However, we saw violence, drunks and other dangers all over the city and not just in the east end!! Lots of wannabe gang members who are still as dangerous as real gangsters and a lot of dangerous mentally ill homeless people. Beware and think of carrying mace.
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.
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.
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.
we arrived in Vancouver during the day and immedietely made our way to the East Hastings area to score some buds and seeds. during the day this area was pretty normal we scored some bc buds across from blunt brothers and come some hash then we went and ate crayfish heads in china town. by that time it was late so we found a hotel room but when we were unpacking our stuff another hotel room got raided by the swat team so we decided we would go chill back in east hastings when we got there it was a different feeling than before during the day. we started to look for a hash bar when we met this fellow called sandman he had tinfoil and a radio reciever on his head he was about five six and had long black hair he must have been native american but anyway he tried to rob us but we managed to evade him after he tried to get us to go down an alley way with him. Anyway lots of hookers mediocre bud and crazy mother f*$kers in that city \. ps if your reading this forum sandman f#@# you man next time well take your money homo.
Overall,Vancouver was a very safe city. Everyone is warned about the downtown eastside and it should probably be avoided. When in Gastown, don't go too far in either direction and you should be fine.
I found the homeless people on the streets to be intimidating at first, but they're harmless. Giving them money is a personal choice, but if you refuse, they usually just leave you alone and move on.
Vancouver, especially in recent years, has had an ongoing problem with aggressive panhandling. Aggressive meaning that beggars will approach people as opposed to simply sitting off to the side. It's a huge political topic in the city, but an issue that never seems to get solved.
Some beggars are legitimately homeless. Some are hardcore drug addicts. Some are mentally ill, and some are just begging as a lifestyle choice.
I've noticed, especially on travel forums, that unsuspecting (and often first-time) visitors to Vancouver are often scared by Vancouver's beggars. If they're not scared, they tend to assume that beggars are somehow dangerous, or that they signify a dangerous neighbourhood. This is not really the case.
The beggars in Vancouver are just that. They are not armed robberers. They are not violent. They do not signify bad neighbourhoods. Most importantly, Vancouver's "bad" neighbourhoods, such as the Downtown Eastside, are not violent. They may have a lot of drug addiction and open air drug use, but they are not places of random violence, muggings, or gang warfare.
Beggars are especially visible in downtown Vancouver, especially in areas of high pedestrian and/or tourist traffic. So even places with high end shops will eventually have beggars at one point during the day wandering around outside. Some begging hotspots include Water Street in Gastown, Granville Street, Davie Street, Robson Street, and Denman Street. Even neighbourhoods outside of downtown like Kitsilano and Commercial Drive have their fair share of beggars.
If you look like a tourist, beggars are more likely to hassle you - especially in Gastown, and especially if you dress like you just stepped off a cruise from Alaska. Just tell them no. They will almost always leave you alone. There is no need to fear them. Keep your street smarts and don't feel you need to give away your money. And don't be surprised if you get asked over 5 times in one day for spare change. This is the unfortunate reality of 21st century Vancouver.
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.
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.