You’ll be happy to know that most of the city is very safe.
However, the one area you’re going to want to avoid in downtown Vancouver is a section of East Hasting street, this is not a tourist friendly area. For the most part East Hasting street is where you really see a lot of the craziness, but I would avoid the entire downtown east side if you’re just visiting Vancouver.
There is a rumor back in the early 1900’s that other provinces were sending their homeless to Vancouver on the train because Vancouver is one of the few places in Canada you won’t die if you sleep outside in the winter.
This has caused a century long understanding that (even now) if you’re homeless – you go to Vancouver. The homeless population mixed with people who have addictions and mental health issues make up a big part of the east side of Vancouver. The concern about this area is that a lot of the people are unstable and desperate and that’s never a good combo.
We don’t have a lot of gun violence in Canada because guns are heavily regulated here. So the idea of someone pulling a gun on you is highly unlikely.
There is also a lot of open drug use on the streets. This makes it very common to see people under the influence in the area. Over all, probably not something you want to deal with on your vacation or if you’re moving to Vancouver for school.
I should also clarify that not all of East Hasting Street should be avoided. It’s only about a 5 block radius from East Hastings and Main street that isn’t tourist friendly. Their are a ton of good restaurants on East Hastings street in East Vancouver and Burnaby
But that’s pretty much it for the city of Vancouver, everywhere else in downtown Vancouver is really quite safe and same goes for the other neighborhoods in Vancouver.