A move planned by a Downtown Eastside staple for the destitute is stirring mixed emotions among retailers and binners.
United We Can, a bottle-and-can recycling depot on East Hastings Street, has outgrown its location. It services 800 binners a day, and has 200 employees.
Its presence has fuelled a micro-economy on the street outside consisting of drug sales, trading in stolen goods and services for hire.
Locations being looked at include a property at Main and Cordova streets and underneath the Georgia Viaduct.
John, who did not want his last name used, said that for binners like himself, the more central the location the better.
“It’s hard enough as it is with cops and fines, what about the elderly and sick? They can’t walk far,” he said. “The sidewalk out front (on Hastings) is safe — under the viaduct could be dangerous.”
Tyler Lapore owns Super Champion, a niche bike shop near Main and Cordova streets. He said moving the depot to his area could discourage new business.
“I think the viaduct would be a better location,” he said, “I’d like to see it going somewhere not near retail.”
George Metrakos, United We Can executive director, said management is responsible for the inside of the depot, not for what happens on the street outside.
“We can’t tell (people) how to spend their bottle-return money. The DTES is an addiction-driven economy and has been for a long time.”