How Vancouver is supporting DTES street vendors with new, safe sales locations

The weekly DTES Street Market, supported by the city, is just one of the initiatives Vancouver is using to support street vending.

The weekly DTES Street Market, supported by the city, is just one of the initiatives Vancouver is using to support street vending.

Survival street vending is a critical source of income for many living in the Downtown Eastside, a fact that the city has recognized by investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in safe, seven-day-a-week locations for street vending in the neighbourhood.

They’re an alternative to the informal street-vending scene that effectively took over the 000 Block of Hastings, raising concerns about sale of stolen goods, public access to the sidewalk and street disorder.

Despite claims to the contrary, city police are not ticketing vendors on that block, but they are encouraging them to move to the new locations — and it’s working.

Here’s how the city plan is unfolding, according to a city release today:

The City recently created a legal street vending location at 62 East Hastings that is open Monday to Friday and is directly across the street from where the majority of street vending was taking  place on the sidewalk of East Hastings. There are now safe and legal vending opportunities in the DTES seven days a week for those who rely on vending to help supplement their income through survival vending, including the 501 Powell Street and Pigeon Park locations open Saturday and Sunday.

The vending site at 501 Powell had its busiest day yet this past Saturday as more people are vending and visiting the location.

Reports of City staff and the Vancouver Police Department sweeping the 0-300 block of East Hastings and ticketing and displacing vendors are inaccurate. There have been zero street vending tickets issued during the past two weeks, as the City supports the DTES Street Market Society to provide safe spaces for survival vending.

The City has invested over $200,000 in 2015 for market operations and to create three legal, safe vending places in the Downtown Eastside, plus the purchase of land at 501 Powell. Providing legal places to vend was a key component in the Downtown Eastside community plan which took two years of engagement with the community, including input from Pivot Legal Society and several DTES groups.

The City’s Housing Outreach team are walking around the DTES daily to engage with those who are homeless or sleeping on the street, and actively work with them to find housing and access to services – six people who were sleeping on East Hastings have been housed since November 15. While finding permanent housing is an optimal goal, an additional 70 shelter spaces have opened this week and 100 more beds will be opened in early as part of the City’s Winter Shelter Strategy with BC Housing.