Workers, businesses speak out on growing crime in Strathcona, downtown neighbourhoods
VANCOUVER -- A delivery driver says he was randomly attacked near the Georgia Street viaduct Tuesday while he was on his way back from making a delivery.
Imran Alikhan said a man jumped in front of his vehicle and wouldn’t let him pass. He said when he rolled down the window to try and speak to the man, he was attacked.
"I just put the window down and asked him, 'What’s your problem?' And then he punched me in the face," Alikhan said. "When I got out of the car to talk to him, he punched me again, under the eye."
He said the man ran away, but while Alikhan was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he noticed the man approaching the vehicle again.
"I was still sitting in the car, he came and grabbed the (Domino’s) sign on top and smashed the rear window," he said.
Alikhan works for the Domino’s on the Granville Strip and even though the attack happened in Strathcona, the owner said the recent rash of crime has left his employees reluctant to work.
The owner, who couldn’t do an interview because of company policy, said there’s been a spike in crime in the area since people from Oppenheimer Park were moved to empty hotels in the downtown area.
Despite government officials saying it would be a temporary adjustment, the owner said the situation has gotten worse.
Ian Turnbull recently opened his restaurant, Brunch, on the Granville Strip in May.
"We love this neighborhood because there are lots of people who live and work in the area and it seems close-knit," Turnbull said.
But some things can’t be ignored.
"In the back alley, anything is possible. I’ve found needles, for sure, garbage, feces, I don’t know if it’s human or from an animal," he said.
He said the open drug use was most disheartening to see.
"There were three people, two doors down from us, sitting on the sidewalk in the rain with needles in their arms,” he said, describing what he witnessed Friday morning. "I hope the people who are hurting and who need help can get it."
Vancouver police said they’ve been hearing concerns from Yaletown residents and have implemented measures, such as increasing police bike patrols.
"We’re steering away from putting Band-Aids on solutions. We‘re in the works of doing as much as we can to help those who need help and the current residents," said VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin.
Turnbull said the police are doing the best they can and governments need to step up to help.
"They’re the ones who need to handle the situation and find the best solution. Get the experts involved and try something new because whatever they’ve been doing in the past just isn’t working," he said.
In a statement to CTV News, the province said it recognizes there are "significant needs" and is working with the local health authority to bring in additional supports.
"These are longstanding challenges in our communities and COVID-19 has made them even more acute, but everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities and get the care they need," the province said in a statement.
It said Vancouver Coastal Health has a clinical outreach support team with nursing staff, which will soon have social workers.
It said VCH is also creating three new outreach teams to sustain health supports and to address substance use and housing issues.