Editorial: Time to deal with decay of downtown core

What is the state of your downtown? All good? If that’s your answer, you are easily pleased or have set a low bar for what makes a downtown all good or even partially good.

The truth is the state of downtown in Metro Vancouver is not all good at all. It is by and large shabby and getting shabbier, and that is not good for business, let alone the quality of community that is at the bedrock of any downtown worth living and working in.

In its State of Downtown 2022 report, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) provides a detailed overview of the area’s many attributes and opportunities.

Nolan Marshall III, the DVBIA’s president and CEO, optimistically states in his introduction to the report that he believes Vancouver “is in a position to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic faster than most.”

It might be, but as Marshall concedes, “the next few years will not be free from challenges.”

Atop that list of challenges is the continued erosion of public safety and the civic pride that it goes hand in hand with.

As BIV’s report on small-business survival underscored in last week’s print edition, the increased tolerance of petty crime and open drug use and the proliferation of graffiti and garbage are major impediments to that survival.

Aside from a wholesale community-wide decision to stop tolerating that downtown degradation, a retooling of the institutions charged with making that happen is needed.

Enforcement of civic standards is a good place to start. The report from the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act provides detailed insights and recommendations on that front and how to unify what is a fragmented and inefficient policing system in the province’s urban centres.

And this year’s municipal elections will give you and your businesses the opportunity to push for the kind of substantive changes that could make a real difference in the state of your downtown.