We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

This image has an empty alt attribute, its filename is Screenshot-2024-04-01-at-1.38.28-PM.png
Back to Newsroom

Will the Streets become the New Street Market?

Uncertain future of Downtown Eastside Street Market worries vendors and shoppers

Mike McNeeley
Writer, Photographer

This image has an empty alt attribute, its filename is Screenshot-2024-04-01-at-1.38.28-PM.png

The future of an important community service in the Downtown Eastside is unclear and the residents that rely on it are worried about how they are going to survive during an uncertain transition.

The lease for the Downtown Eastside Street Market’s current location at 26 E. Hastings St. expired at the end of August. At Megaphone’s press time, the city and market operators had yet to announce if a new location has been secured or when vendors would be able to set up shop at a new space.

Organizers are confident a solution will be found.

“The market will continue, just at a new location,” said Brianne De Man, manager of charitable programs at the Binners’ Project, which currently holds a contract with the City of Vancouver to help manage the street market.

However, city staff told The Tyee in July that while they were working on finding an alternate spot, they “currently do not foresee a viable location.” The market has been without a permanent home for years, moving from empty lot to empty lot. This latest uncertainty has many folks who depend on both the income and goods the market provides feeling fearful.

Underneath the “keep calm and carry on” attitude, there is a layer of anxiety that permeates the market.

“This issue always comes up. It has happened to us so many times before… We are looking for a home,” said Dustin, a vendor who has been involved with the market since 2012 and asked that only his first name be used. “The feeling is vendors have not been supported. The strain of the unknown is much higher on the people who have been here a long time. The city is aware of the mental health issues down here. You can not push the bottom further down. Everyone will be very, very sad if a place is not found soon.”

Joe Konkin, a 64-year-old vendor, is also concerned how challenging it might be for him to get his things to and from a different market location.

“In order to maintain being a vendor, I moved close to the market. I must store everything in my room, which is on the fifth floor,” Konkin explained. “The new location should be in the vicinity. Guys like me can’t do anything else. If this goes, I don’t have anything else for a good retirement.”

Jason Taylor, a vendor for 15 years, agrees, pointing out that the market is an essential service for people living with health challenges and in extreme poverty. 

“Being a vendor at the market elevates people out of their addictions and gets them off the street,” he said. “It improves their lives.”

If anything, the market needs to be expanded, Taylor said.

“We need a bigger space. The locations are getting smaller. We will be back on the streets, where the cops will come along and throw everything in the garbage.”

One of the market’s coordinators, Brent Skorohach, said shutting down the current site isn’t the answer.

“Ever since day one, the market has existed pillar to post. If people have no where to sell, they will be forced to sell things on the street,” he said.

The market features a variety of items for sale, including toiletries, arts and crafts, and collectibles.

Julie Summers, who sells clothing and jewelry there, said the market makes such a big difference in people’s lives and wonders how long the market will be in limbo.

No matter what happens, vendor Farhad Shokrani said that street commerce won’t stop in the absence of a sanctioned location.

“It is very necessary to have a market, or everywhere will become a market,” Shokrani said.

Stories of change are best when shared

From social media to texting to email, consider sharing links to the Megaphone stories that move you—so that we can all move forward.

Mike McNeeley

Mike McNeeley

Writer, Photographer

Mike McNeeley was born in Kincardine, Ontario and moved with his family to Vancouver more than 45 years ago. He calls the Downtown Eastside home. Mike is a Megaphone vendor and avid photographer; he's had his images published many times in the magazine, Hope in Shadows calendar and Voices of the Street literary anthology. When he's not shooting pictures, Mike enjoys other creative pursuits such as sculpture and live theatre. He is part of The Shift peer newsroom team and member of the Binners Project.

What Sets our Newsroom Apart

Rooted in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, we're committed to amplifying voices that are overlooked by mainstream media. We’re actively growing our team of storytellers and journalists to serve our community.

More about our Peer Newsroom

“Why "The Shift?" So the framework of Megaphone magazine can “shift” to being a more inclusive street paper, empowering those with lived and living experience to tell the stories that matter the most to them and their communities.”

Paula Carlson Editorial and Program Director

Sign up for community news you can't get anywhere else


Support our work to change the story on poverty

Your donation directly amplifies marginalized voices and creates meaningful work opportunities for our vendors and storytellers.

Donate today