Vancouver (with the exception of the goddawful downtown east area) is a fabulous place. I've always thought it was one place I could quite cheerfully emigrate to. Fabulous skiing & windsurfing nearby, beautiful parks, beaches and harbour... It's just great. The rapidly increasing number of homeless in the city centre is a big problem though....
I was there in 2010 and even back then the homeless was looking to be a social problem for the city. Wasn't as bad as San Francisco in the same year but it was definitely something that was a blight on such a beautiful city. It was clear to me that the city didn't look to care for its unfortunate, and seems to have got worse since.
What cities (even Melbourne) don't realise is that it's the tourists that notice these things more than the locals. The locals are busy going about their days to really notice and become immune to it. Tourists on the other hand get up early in the day to explore. This is the time when the homeless are still bedding down, makeshift tents and living areas are still unpacked. The tourists are bright eyed and keen to see the sights... and they sure see the sights.
Shame really. I too have always said if I ever had the chance to emigrate elsewhere, it would be to Vancouver. Just hope they do the right thing and find a better solution for the homeless crisis they clearly have. Ditto Melbourne.
It was getting bad back in 2006, which is the first time I went there. Actually, it wasn't just confined to Vancouver - it seemed to be Canada as a whole. It was moderate in Ottawa, quite noticeable in Montreal & Victoria, and absolutely rife in Toronto. The only place (that we went to) which didn't seem overtly affected was Quebec City.
I haven't been back to any city other than Vancouver, so can't comment whether the situation seems better/worse/same. Maybe it's just the time of year (I've been in Jan-Feb every time i.e. cold), but it always seemed particularly prevalent around entry points to the subway systems and shopping complexes (esp. Toronto where you just about had to carve your way through the smell of p1ss with a chainsaw). Not in a threatening way mind you, just a little unsettling & confronting.