Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Veranda to be Built at Mcdonalds will keep Shopping Carts of Homeless away from Front Door

Above photo: a homeless man sleeps in the sun this morning in front of Mcdonald's restaurant at Main & Terminal.

Mcdonald's restaurant deserves a humanitarian award for the tolerance they have shown for the homeless.

At one point an older manager, a Chinese guy with his head shaved bald, did start insisting that the homeless move their shopping carts away from the front door. "We can't have this," I heard him tell them, asking them to at least park their shopping carts in the parking lot. There was one homeless guy who he asked not to come back because he was parking his shopping cart inside the restaurant. That homeless man sat in the dining area of Mcdonalds one evening and trimmed his hair and put on shaving cream and shaved. The staff didn't notice.

Eventually the manager who was setting limits left. The new managers tend to be teenagers who are not equipped to take on the street people. And they're just earning a few dollars between high school classes, so they really don't care.

Then the City of Vancouver made things worse by setting up a homeless shelter across the street from Mcdonalds. That added to the congregation of homeless people hanging out at the tables in front of Mcdonalds at night, smoking cigarrettes and pot and parking shopping carts filled with stuff pulled from garbage cans beside the door. But many of the regular homeless people at Mcdonalds are not actually linked to the homeless shelter. Those places are more for the homeless-light. The hard core homeless just keep living outside like they've always done.

But Mcdonald's has a plan. A staff person mentioned that they are going to renovate, turn the front patio area into a veranda. It's difficult to get a shopping cart onto a veranda. The veranda will have tables with umbrellas. (The current front patio once had umbrellas but they were stolen. The tables behind Mcdonalds also once had umbrellas but they were stolen too, and later Mcdonalds removed those tables because they were having problems with the homeless and street people hanging out back there all night.)

The homeless will still be at Mcdonalds though. The cheap coffee with a free refill is too good a deal to miss. Most of the regular homeless don't panhandle but they sometimes pick up a customer's discarded coffee cup and take it up to the cashier for a free refill. Some do buy food; the guy sunning himself in the photo bought a burger and an ice cream sundae yesterday.

So many businesses in Vancouver have to work around Vancouver's homeless and drug addicts. It's a real headache trying to use the washroom at Mcdonalds because they now lock the door and you have to buzz and buzz and buzz until the busy staff hear you and let you in. Before that they tried to discourage drug addicts from using their washrooms by installing special lighting that made it more difficult for them to see their veins.

Major renovations at Mcdonalds will begin very soon. In addition to a veranda, they will be installing fireplaces and internet wifi.