A fake beach set up in the heart of downtown Vancouver is attracting the wrong kind of sunbathers, according to local merchants who say they feel threatened by the growing presence of homeless people.

The pop-up park Picnurbia has been a magnet for lunch-time diners and weary tourists alike during its run in Robson Square this summer, but jewelry vendor Aroka Kushner says the undulating plush surface of the structure is also drawing in enough vagrants to become a sort of homeless camp.

"When they move far enough away, I can kind of ignore it, but when they come closer they're smoking pot -- they were drinking the other night. There's like a roughness, so it's not pleasant," she told CTV News.

"This morning I had one threatening me. I wanted him to move and he was so abusive -- I'm kind of shaking from it.... He said, ‘I'm going to make your life hell; I'm going to harass you all day.'"

Police officers come by in the morning to wake the campers up, but have told Kushner that's all they can do.

Those using the temporary park as a crash pad are defending themselves, saying they're not out to cause any trouble.

One woman, who gave her name as Laura, has been sleeping on the fake beach for a couple of nights while she looks for a place to live. She says that the homeless should be allowed to stay.

"Even the cops that have come here agree that it's pretty comfy and see why people would [sleep here],'" she said.

She estimates that about 20 people are sleeping in the park on a regular basis, and claims the informal community that's sprung up in Picnurbia takes responsibility for keeping the peace, forcing out undesirables.

"It's actually quite safe," she said.

"It's really nice because you get to meet so many cool people just chilling at this spot."

Picnurbia will be dismantled this weekend as Robson Square reopens to traffic, but the city hopes to make the area pedestrian-only again in the future and the pop-up park may be back.

"We have not determined future of Picnurbia yet, but are investigating potential ways to re-use it," Vancouver spokesman Alex Russell said in an email.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington