A colourful mural in Vancouver's Cambie Village neighbourhood has been dismantled and thrown in the dump, after JJ Bean Coffee moved into the location.

The Faces of Vancouver mural was completed in 2007 and took artist Teresa Waclawik three years to complete, as a fundraising project for street youth charity Covenant House.

Local residents donated money to the charity to have their faces painted onto the side of a building on Cambie Street and 18th Avenue.

Waclawik, who now lives in Ottawa, says she is heartbroken the mural is gone and says she did not give permission for it to be taken down.

"From my imagination, came this idea to represent the people of Vancouver... thereby bringing the community together," she told the CBC.

"It was my greatest achievement as an artist and then to see it destroyed in such an untimely manner, was shocking to me."

Mural 'would fall apart'

Waclawik blames Vancouver coffee chain​ JJ Bean Coffee, which has begun work on the location and plans to open up a patio there.

But founder John Neate says the mural has been coming down in sections for the past few weeks and was beyond saving.

"What we discovered is the bottom three or four feet was totally rotted. It was never probably sealed and never had a rain screen wall so as we touched it, it would fall apart".

The cafe says it's looking at reproducing some of the images from the mural after construction is complete.

But Joshua Keshet, who appeared on the mural along with his wife and two sons, says that's not good enough. He has managed to retrieve many of the broken pieces of the mural.

"It's devastating because it's not just my family... it's the entire community," said Keshet.

"The reality is nobody was told, there was no posted sign. We knew the tenant changed, but we did not know any plans, who was moving in or the future of the building."

Keshet has managed to retrieve some of the dumped mural, but most of the pieces are gone.

"They should have tried to cut them all in square pieces and we would have found a nice place in the community to put them," said Keshet.

Meanwhile Waclawik is hoping she can help salvage something.

"I suggested they use part of the wall — I could come back to do a mosaic with the pieces inside the coffee shop so at least something is preserved," she said.

"When an artist creates a piece of work there should be respect for it... I didn't create it to be destroyed."

On mobile? Click here to see Teresa Waclawik's YouTube video about the mural