VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An increase in harassment against women and even cases of attempted luring on Industrial Avenue in Vancouver has businesses in the area on high alert.
Some are warning their female staff and customers to take extra care, while others are even changing their hours, saying the area has gotten unsafe.
“We’re locking our doors, keeping our doors locked longer,” Kirsty MacGregor, the owner of Canine Adventure Den Daycare, explained.
Her business is one of two to recently take to social media to put out public warnings, urging customers to be aware when walking through the area.
“So we’ve noticed that there’s a trend happening now, that it’s just getting a little unsafe down our street,” she said. “Our staff — we’re mostly female — and our doors are open at 6:00 a.m. in the morning until 8:00 p.m. at night, so it’s dark out. Some of our staff have been feeling not safe.”
In the post, the Canine Adventure Den — which operates 24 hours a day — asks its customers: “If you walk to and from the daycare with your dog down Industrial, we ask that you please be aware of your surroundings and call 911 should you feel unsafe or witness anyone being harassed.”
MacGregor has been operating her business on Industrial for five years. She says it’s never been this bad before, noting there’s been an “increased amount of drug paraphernalia being left all over the street in front of the businesses.”
Earlier this month, she says two women going to or from the nearby climbing gym reported being harassed. She says some people have even tried to lure customers into vehicles.
“Sketchy area now that it’s getting worse,” she said of Industrial Avenue, which branches off Main Street to the east and is located south of East 1st Avenue.
The stretch of road doesn’t have sidewalks along the entire road, there’s no bus that runs along it, and MacGregor says it’s not very well lit.
As a result of the concerns, MacGregor says her business has had to make some changes.
“Clients can still come, they just need to book in advance to let us know that they’re coming,” she says. “We’ve also said to make sure that they book so we know that they’re actual clients rather than people standing outside the building, just loitering. We don’t want our staff unlocking the doors for people who aren’t customers.
“Everyone’s just being a bit more cautious,” she added.
The Hive Bouldering Gym, which is just next door to the doggy daycare, has also taken to Facebook to ask that customers exercise caution.
“Hivers, we are sad to say, but feel it’s important for our community to be aware: we have had 2 successive reports of harassment in the last week,” the post reads in part. “Specifically, this has been towards women heading to or from The Hive, walking alone on Industrial Ave. We are working to increase awareness and education, while speaking with our neighbours to come up with a strategy to reduce risk to those travelling down our street.”
When asked about the concerns, the Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed said in a statement to NEWS 1130:
“VPD has not noticed any increase in reports of harassment in the Industrial Avenue area recently. I do encourage anybody who is the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime to come forward to the police with information regarding any issue.”
A strategy to increase safety is now in the works among some businesses.
-With files from Ria Renouf