More than 84 downtown Vancouver businesses closed their doors forever in 2020

·2 min read
Downtown restaurants make up the majority of the businesses that have had to close. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Downtown restaurants make up the majority of the businesses that have had to close. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

At least 84 businesses in downtown Vancouver had to permanently close their doors during 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the State of Downtown 2020 report released on Thursday by The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, 45 per cent of businesses closed were independently owned.

"There's no doubt that this has been a horrible year, 2020," Charles Gauthier, association president and CEO told CBC 's On the Coast in an interview.

The report stated that Granville Street was the street the most affected by closures, as it saw at least 29 businesses shut down.

"Downtown restaurants were most impacted by the pandemic and account for almost half of total street-level business closures," the report stated.

Granville street saw 29 businesses close down because of the pandemic in 2020.
Granville street saw 29 businesses close down because of the pandemic in 2020.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

The report also outlined additional effects COVID-19 had on the downtown area.

Working from home shrunk the daytime downtown workforce from about 116,000 people in 2019 to as few as 11,000 people in 2020.

The average office occupancy in the downtown dropped as low as 10 to 30 per cent at times in 2020.

Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought, Gauthier says they remain optimistic about the future.

"We believe in the long term economic and social health of our downtown core and plan on working together with the City of Vancouver and other stakeholders on economic recovery initiatives," he said.

The DVBIA says many downtown businesses have been able to adapt well to the current pandemic restrictions, such as restaurants which opened temporary patios when indoor dining shut down.

Some downtown restaurants opened temporary patios when indoor dining shut down.
Some downtown restaurants opened temporary patios when indoor dining shut down.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

"Our downtown has fared better than a lot of North American downtowns and I believe it will come back a lot better," Gauthier said.

The report also lays out suggestions for the B.C. government on how to safely reopen and welcome people back to the city.

"Once restrictions are eased and it's safe to welcome people back to downtown, we need to continue to support public events and festivals," said James Anderson, a research and data analyst with the DVBIA, in a pre-recorded video presentation.

With the province's vaccination plan well underway, the DVBIA says it has strong hopes for downtown Vancouver's future and expects it to bounce back better than ever.

"Downtown has strong market fundamentals, a diversified economy and a robust destination brand, which makes me optimistic for the future." Gauthier said.