Downtown Vancouver BIA offers funding for businesses hit with vandalism 

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Sheryl Matthew dreads getting a 2:30 a.m. phone call, which usually means yet another broken window at one of her Vancouver coffee shops and another whopping repair bill.

As downtown Vancouver businesses report worsening levels of property crime in recent months, Matthew’s two locations — Finch’s Tea and Coffee House on Pender Street and Finch’s Market in nearby Strathcona — haven’t been spared.

Three weeks ago, someone broke a large 5×7′ window at Finch’s downtown, costing Matthew $1,300 to fix, equivalent to a couple weeks’ profit in today’s post-pandemic, inflation-battered business environment, she said.

“There was also just huge glass, broken and hanging, and dangerous,” she said. “We had to shut down and  lost a day’s business.”

Two weeks before that, someone threw an apple through the store’s front door so hard shards of glass were found on the opposite side of the room.

A new program launching Monday hopes to help businesses like Matthew’s struggling with mounting repair bills for damaged doors, shattered windows and vandalized storefronts.

The Downtown Van storefront security grant is meant to ease some of the financial costs incurred by businesses due to criminal activity that resulted in damages to storefronts, windows and doors.

“We want to ensure that the ongoing damage caused by prolific offenders does not deter new and existing business owners from operating in the downtown core,” said the business improvement association’s  president and CEO Nolan Marshall III. “Our mission remains the same, to keep Downtown Van a clean, safe, and welcoming environment for all.”

The grant also applies to implementing security improvements, such as anti-graffiti coating, security cameras, shutters and gates.

The organization will match up to 50 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $5,000, to repair and restore the damages.

Any street-level businesses in downtown Vancouver is eligible.

Applications can be submitted starting Monday until Feb. 28, 2023 or until funding runs out. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come first-serve basis.

The Business Improvement Areas of B.C., which represents more than 70 business districts, said public safety, violence, property crime and vandalism have reached a tipping point, not just in Vancouver, but across the province.

It called on the provincial government to implement a financial assistance program for businesses affected by crime.

Much of the vandalism Matthew sees hit her stores and other downtown stores is senseless and hurts small business owners trying to recover from the pandemic.

“I have the most ridiculous debt now,” she said, adding the vandalism and property crime “compound the financial difficulties small businesses are having as we try to navigate our way out of the effects of COVID.”

The Business Improvement Areas of B.C., which represents more than 70 business districts, said public safety, violence, property crime and vandalism have reached a tipping point, not just in Vancouver, but across the province.

It called on the provincial government to implement a financial assistance program for businesses affected by crime.

Much of the vandalism Matthew sees hit her stores and other downtown stores is senseless and hurts small business owners trying to recover from the pandemic.

“I have the most ridiculous debt now,” she said, adding the vandalism and property crime “compound the financial difficulties small businesses are having as we try to navigate our way out of the effects of COVID.”

Source Vancouver Sun