Economic Revitalization

Economic Revitalization Projects


Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (Access)

BladeRunners Creative Industries

BladeRunners is an international award-winning employment model for at-risk youth to enter the construction industry. The Firehall Arts Centre, W2 Community Media Arts Society and Intersections are working together to nurture the talent of at-risk youth for employment in the creative industries. Participants will obtain job and life skills training, produce a professional portfolio, gain employment experience, and be placed in employment with job coaching support.  It is expected that BladeRunners will help launch young people into a career in film, video, stage or multi media.  (2009)

Atira Women’s Resource Society

Arts Cooperative

An artisans’ co-operative was established to provide women in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) with an opportunity to develop and enhance their skills, and to provide them with alternative employment options. The first phase targeted residents of Bridge Housing for Women, a supportive housing program, and the second phase supported renovations to increase capacity and open the project to more women in the community. This was a partnership with Central City Mission Foundation.  (2004)

Women’s Social Enterprise:  Business Incubator

Women’s organizations interested in becoming involved in social enterprises were assisted to explore their capacity for social enterprise, including cooperatives, with the aim to have the groups establish community-based businesses. (2005)

BCIT School of Business

DTES Business Education

Building on a pilot project, teams composed of students, faculty advisors and business mentors prepared plans to address issues identified by client businesses. The primary goal of this initiative was to develop the viability of emerging and existing businesses in inner-city areas of Vancouver. The project was a collaboration with UBC, SFU, Emily Carr and Business Improvement Associations. (2004)

BOB (Building Opportunities with Business Inner City Society)

Business Cluster Strategy

A key component of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan is implementation of a comprehensive business cluster strategy to leverage economic and employment opportunities for DTES residents and businesses, as well as to establish strategic partnerships between government, educational institutions, community groups and the private sector. The cluster strategy focuses on four high-growth industries: construction, business services, tourism and hospitality, and investment and development. The strategy is part of the core functions of BOB. (2005)

Business Development Services

Business development services are provided to enterprises in the DTES and surrounding neighbourhoods, including those in the private sector and social enterprises operated by non-profit organizations and cooperatives. Services include business planning, expansion, relocation to the DTES, marketing, product development, financial planning and loans, and capital improvements. (2006)

BusinessLinks Employment Program

BusinessLinks is an employment outreach program designed to increase access for DTES residents to the hospitality, tourism and service industries, particularly targeting employers who have recruitment seasons or group-hiring practices. The program includes a training component for potential employees.  (2005)

Case Coordination Project

The DTES Case Coordination Project (CCP) focused on helping long-term unemployed residents of the DTES move into employment. It provided intensive one-to-one support for clients, many of whom were not able to participate in mainstream employment. The support provided by case coordinators enabled some clients to stabilize their lives and others to move into employment, volunteering or training. The case coordination model was decentralized and flexible, both in terms of the methods of delivery and components of the program. The CCP was a demonstration project funded for three years and was documented in a final report.  (2004) Read the report.

Core Operations, Benefit Agreements, Cluster Development

Building Opportunities with Business Inner City Society (BOB) delivers the Economic Revitalization Plan and Employment Strategic Plan. BOB is a self-reliant, sustainable, non-profit organization, guided by the principle of revitalization without displacement. Its mission is to provide economic leadership, partnership, resources, and support to help implement the strategic plans to the benefit of DTES businesses and residents. Working in active partnership with businesses, residents, community organizations and other stakeholders, BOB will be a socially responsible champion of DTES business and residents. The Community Benefit Agreements provide employment support for construction jobs, recruitment and training of inner-city residents and procurement of goods and services from inner-city businesses. The Cluster Strategy consists of two existing clusters (Tourism & Hospitality, Construction) and three emerging clusters (Information Communications & Technology, Creative Industries, Green Industries).  The clusters facilitate business development opportunities that have the potential to employ inner-city residents and increase business sales for inner-city businesses. (2005-2009)

Employment Training Fund

BOB works to increase employment opportunities for inner-city residents through building relationships with employers and employment service providers and connecting them via job postings, customized skill development training and job retention and support. Services offered are:  employment counseling, recruitment, job postings and employer breakfasts. (2005-2008)

Integrated Database Development & Implementation

This project supports businesses located in the DTES to take advantage of capital projects such as the construction of the Athletes’ Village for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and other Games-related projects, redevelopment of the Woodward’s department store, and the Carrall Street Greenway. BOB is responsible for supporting, coordinating and/or undertaking these and other initiatives to maximize benefits for inner-city neighbourhoods. Critical to the success of this work is development and implementation of an integrated database to provide relevant and timely information.  (2005)

Project Development

This project developed and coordinated activities leading up to the incorporation of the Building Opportunities for Business Inner City Society (BOB) in 2005. The project involved community groups, local business leaders and others from the wider community, with the aim of re-establishing economic activity in this historic community.  (2005)

Canadian Business for Social Responsibility Association

Seeing is Believing

In partnership with the Carnegie Community Centre, a pilot program was designed to build awareness among business leaders of issues in the DTES. Through visits to a variety of community organizations, participants developed an understanding of what actions they could take to support the community at both a personal level and a corporate level. Seeing is Believing is now an ongoing program sponsored by Canadian Business for Social Responsibility.  (2004)

Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise

Building Social Enterprise Conference

Held in January 2007 in Vancouver and focused on supporting successful social enterprise development across the country, Building Social Enterprise was the second Canadian conference on social enterprise. The conference provided training and networking opportunities for about 500 attendees including social enterprise groups, managers and staff, government staff, consultants, funders and academics. It offered workshop sessions in four practical learning streams: Early Stage Planning, Operations and Growth, Enterprise Series, and Social Enterprise Environment. (2006)

Canadian Mental Health Association

DTES Financial Literacy

In collaboration with Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS) and Westcoast Community Enterprise, a two-year pilot financial literacy program was designed and delivered to marginalized people moving towards self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship.  The three organizations incorporated financial literacy into their existing programming, trained staff members in topics of financial literacy, mentored staff and addressed financial issues experienced by marginalized populations involved in business development.  (2004)

Carnegie Centre


The three-day 2009 event was a pilot in preparation for a bigger creative event for homeless and under-housed DTES residents. HomeGround held during the 2010 Winter Olympics provided a comfortable refuge where participants could enjoy a meal and be entertained by, or participate in, community-based art and music activities. The event was produced by Carnegie Community Centre, the DTES Neighbourhood House and associate community groups. Workshops leading up to the event allowed for the production of art in several disciplines by community members. The art was showcased at the festival. In addition, the event provided service, health and shelter referral for homeless individuals.  (2008-2009))

Community Arts Calendars

The Community Arts Calendar served as both a promotional and informational tool for community arts initiatives. It also encouraged resource sharing among local groups. The 2005 calendar was available in print and web formats and covered the full spectrum of arts programming in the DTES. The calendars highlight the wealth of arts assets available in the community. (2005)

Carnegie Centre,Vancouver Moving Theatre

Heart of the City Festivals

Arts and cultural activities have been identified as key elements for the social and economic revitalization of the DTES. This funding supported the DTES Heart of the City Festival in 2004. A second phase, in collaboration with Vancouver Moving Theatre, expanded upon the 2004 successes to support the festival for two more years. Events included a gala concert, community barn dance, coffeehouses, music and spoken word showcases, literary readings, history walks, ArtTalks in local homes, and a Breaking into Biz forum for community artists. The festival has become an annual event.  (2006-2009)

City of Vancouver

Arts and Culture Strategic Framework & Investment Plan

A Strategic Framework and Investment Plan for arts and culture activities in the DTES was prepared. The plan outlines community issues, assets and opportunities and builds on existing cultural infrastructure, creating guidelines and action plans to support and facilitate sustainable community development and economic revitalization through arts and culture activities. (2005). Read the report.

Business Leaders Event

The purpose of this event was to bring downtown Vancouver business leaders together in an informal setting to learn about successful private and public projects and opportunities to participate in the VA Economic Revitalization Plan.  (2004)

Carrall Street Greenway

Successful economic revitalization of the DTES, including business retention and expansion, is dependent upon addressing crime and safety concerns in the community. The Carrall Street Greenway physically links the popular and historic Gastown and Chinatown neighbourhoods, and also improves the appearance and physical environment in the community.  Funding was provided for detailed design work and drawings, for the Hastings Intersection and the Heritage Zone, a concept design for the Park Zone, Maple Tree Square concept design options, and Suzhou Alley landscaping. (2004)

Centre for Business and Community Economic Development

The building at 390 Main Street is a significant physical landmark located at Main and Hastings Streets in the DTES. It earlier housed a community bank, and more recently was occupied by non-profit organizations that offer employment and community economic development services to DTES residents. The building was initially the focal point for implementing the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Strategy. Vancouver Agreement funding assisted with capital improvements, furnishings and equipment to house community agencies that work with businesses and potential employees. (2004)

Community Hanging Baskets

Landscaping with Heart, a Coast Mental Health social enterprise assembled fifty-four summer hanging baskets.  The Strathcona Business Improvement Association assumed ownership of the baskets and will maintain them for three years. The Downtown Community Court hung the baskets and is responsible for watering them.  (2009)

Community Murals

Community Murals is engaging the local community in tackling graffiti and beautifying DTES neighbourhoods. About 50 buildings were identified as suitable locations for murals with priority to frequently tagged walls, locations within close proximity to participating community organizations and visibility to foot and vehicle traffic. Murals are being designed and painted by community artists and residents.  (2008)

Creative Pathways

Creative Pathways will develop a three-year strategy to establish creative pathways in the DTES with a focus on the public realm. It will include monthly signature events, public art installations and community development and capacity-building initiatives. It will address hours of operation for restaurants and services, as well as community-based park programming that interacts with arts and cultural facilities that animate the public realm.  (2008)

DTES Arts Demonstration

DTES artists and arts organizations put on several community arts events: a Downtown Arts Walk where artists and galleries open their spaces to public; a Spring Live Arts Fair to showcase local artists; Dancing on the Street where dance organizations put on workshops and site and theatre performances; and Storytelling in which personal and historic stories are shared through verbal communication, video and digital media.  (2009)

DTES Northeast Sector Industrial Strategy

The Northeast Sector industrial area is a significant asset in future growth of the DTES. The study reviewed current economic activities, identified industrial employment opportunities, analyzed the municipal and regional context to identify industrial business potential, analyzed how industrial land in the study area could be most intensively used, analyzed cluster strategies employed by cities in Canada and the U.S., and recommended strategies and policy changes to retain and enhance successful industrial uses and to increase employment opportunities for inner-city residents. (2004)  Read the report.

Four Pillars Employment

The Four Pillars Employment project provides supported employment to individuals in recovery from problematic substance use. By providing counselling, social and professional skill training and post-employment assistance, the project aims to prevent relapse and support transition towards regular employment and reintegration into society. Coordinated by the City of Vancouver’s Drug Policy Program, this project is a continuation of a successful 2007 pilot project. In addition, this project will provide a supported employment model that other municipal governments can use. (2008) Read the evaluation reports: Summary Report & City of Vancouver Report.

Hastings Street Renaissance

The program encourages commercial property owners to improve exterior facades of vacant, deteriorating retail spaces on Hastings Street.  An improvement grant is provided to a non-profit organization that will either be the future tenant or the property manager.  The majority of completed storefronts support arts based businesses such as theatres, studios or galleries.  It is expected that the improved storefronts will bring more retail activity to the area and stimulate the improvement of other building facades. (2009)

Identification of Construction Related Employment Opportunities

Several high-profile events and developments in Vancouver between 2005 and 2010 will likely generate investment, employment and other economic spin-offs. These include the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the 2006 World Urban Forum, the redevelopment of the Woodward’s building, the expansion of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the redevelopment of False Creek and the False Creek Flats. This project identified associated employment opportunities in construction-related fields for DTES residents. (2004)

Renovations of 390 Main

The building at 390 Main Street, a significant physical landmark, was renovated to create a centre for business and community economic development. Community organizations are located on the premises.  (2004, 2005)

Take 50

Take 50 established a T-shirt design and production company at Britannia Secondary School, employing students to gain hands-on business skills.  In addition the project provided a legacy of computer hardware and software for ongoing community and school use.  It is expected that this program will continue as a means for developing management, marketing, sales and bookkeeping skills.  (2009)

City of Vancouver, EMBERS

Sew a Legacy:  Olympic Banner Sports Bags

The City of Vancouver worked closely with EMBERS (an inner-city employment and business development non-profit) to foster the sewing skills, business acumen, and employment capacity of inner-city sewers. Olympic banners were used to produce drawstring sports bags for inner-city school children. (2009)

City of Vancouver, Gastown Business Improvement Society

Business Plan for a ‘Dumpster-Free Alley’

In order to increase demand for local goods and services, the physical appearance in the DTES must continuously be upgraded to address crime and safety concerns. Clearing alleys of litter is a critical component of this work in order to improve business opportunities and expansion possibilities in the community. The Gastown Business Improvement Society and the non-profit United We Can have been working together for several years on joint initiatives to beautify historic Gastown and create employment opportunities for low-income local residents. This project will expand upon work to date and involve creation of a business plan for the ‘Dumpster-Free Alley’ pilot project. (2004)

City of Vancouver, Parks & Recreation Board

Public Space Event Planning

The Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board, working with Vancouver Moving Theatre, developed a coordinated arts program and event plan for the DTES. Funding supported determining performing arts organizations interest in performing in public spaces, determining their infrastructure needs, linking park programs and events with potential private and public sector funding agencies, holding a public information meeting in the DTES to provide information about this initiative and solicit public input, and producing a final report summarizing the initiative.  (2004)

Strathcona Public Realm Design

This project explored options for streetscape improvements in the historic Strathcona community, as well as ways to improve public safety and security and enhance local storefronts. (2005)

Covenant House

Stars for Success

This pilot project provided employment opportunities in downtown Vancouver hotels for youth living on the street. It was a partnership of Covenant House, Vancouver Community College, and the Downtown Vancouver Hotel General Managers’ Association. The project addressed training, employment and homelessness among youth by providing entry-level employment to 20 committed youth interested in working in Vancouver hotels.  (2004)

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

Education and Tourism Wing

An education centre and gift shop were added to the garden to increase the number of tourists, provide cultural and historical education and develop employment opportunities for DTES residents. These enhancements facilitated the social enterprise aspect of the garden generating funding for the non-profit society. This project builds on the partnerships between the Vancouver Agreement and the Chinese community that were established in the funding of the Chinatown Millennium Gate.  (2004)

EMBERS (Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society)

Business Development Support

This project comprises two components that are aimed at helping entrepreneurs in the DTES develop and establish their own businesses. The first component focuses on a series of build-your-own-business workshops and mentoring services. Twenty business planning and business management workshops are offered in three repeated sessions for a total of 60 workshops over one year. Hands-on mentoring and business coaching support is also offered to workshop participants. The workshops are designed for low-income, inexperienced entrepreneurs who do not qualify for existing self-employment programs. The second component provides ongoing one-to-one business management consultation and business development service supports to proven entrepreneurs to help them establish, attract and stabilize sustainable business ventures to the DTES.  (2004)

Entrepreneurship Training

Economic development and job creation are key goals of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan. EMBERS provides entrepreneurship training to low-income and inexperienced entrepreneurs in the DTES. Training provides participants with information to support them in planning and operating a business. Following the training, participants are linked to a variety of supports to help them sustain their businesses.  (2004)

Micro-enterprise Development Program

This program focuses on business training for self-employed DTES residents and for enterprises employing fewer than five people. The program goal is to build entrepreneurial management skills, operating capacity, competitiveness, equity and employment/business income for owner-operated and micro businesses in the DTES. Due to the high risks associated with business start-ups in general, which increases for those with limited financial backing, EMBERS has developed a six-part program for such business operators.  (2007)

Environmental Youth Alliance

Food Economy Assessment

This project was identified as a key activity to support the strategic objectives of the Emergency Food Task Team. It involves examining Vancouver’s food system, particularly in the DTES, performing a survey of Vancouver’s emergency food system, and examining opportunities for food-related social enterprises.  (2004)

Fast Track to Employment

Business Retention and Expansion Strategies

In order to implement the VA Economic Revitalization Plan, two existing non-profit organizations, Fast Track to Employment (FTE) and Partners for Economic and Community Help Society (PEACH) were merged into a new organization, Building Opportunities for Business (BOB). FTE was tasked with creating framework for BOB by establishing connections with development projects, investigating options for sustaining the Social Purchasing Portal and designing a model for a commercial property database.  (2005)

Cook Street Studio Feasibility Study & Business Plan

The Cook Studio Café is a social enterprise in the DTES that provides training and employment for at-risk youth in food services, and operates a café. This project included a feasibility study, a business plan, and engaging an architectural firm to refine the current concept to include dining, carry-out, bakery and related services in a market-like setting.  (2004)

Social Purchasing Portal Expansion

Expansion of the Social Purchasing Portal assisted in attracting business to the DTES, retaining current businesses and increasing employment opportunities for local residents, all of which are key components of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan. This project assisted Fast Track to Employment to engage additional business participation, create greater supply-chain transaction activity, and promote employment development in the community. (2004)

Gastown Business Improvement Society

Gastown ‘MUD’ Marketing Concept – Website Update and Expansion

The Gastown Business Improvement Society represents 450 businesses and 50 property owners. The Modern Urban District (MUD) project supported the development of a newly branded website. provides business members with marketing tools such as micro-site templates and web referrals, and consumers with an easy-to-navigate overview of Gastown’s offerings. (2007)

Tour de Gastown

The legendary Tour de Gastown is one of the most famous races in Canada. Held over a super-fast 1.2 km course, the Tour de Gastown features North America’s top riders battling wheel-to-wheel for more than $15,000 in cash prizes and a chance to add their name to a stellar list of past winners, which includes Alex Stieda and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. (2005)

PEACH (Partners for Economic and Community Help Society)

Loans Program Review

A loans program review and Loans Policy Manual was prepared for a community-lending program. (2005)

Potluck Café Society

Business Plan for Catering Expansion

Potluck Café Society is a non-profit organization established in 2000 to provide job training and employment opportunities for residents in the DTES, as well as providing free and subsidized meals to marginalized area residents. The purpose of this project was to develop a business plan to assess the feasibility of expanding the rental equipment portion of the business to a full-service event rental stream.  (2005)

St. James Community Service Society

Emergency Food Providers’ Coalition

In partnership with the Salvation Army and the Vancouver Food Bank, St. James Community Service Society revised the business plan for its Emergency Food Distribution Program. The revised program was a response to the overflow of people using the existing program thereby causing disruptions to the community and businesses.  (2004)

Strathcona Area Merchants Society

Branding Strategy & Marketing Campaign

The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (BIA) operates under the society charter of the Strathcona Area Merchants Society. The Strathcona BIA developed a branding strategy, expanded the website, developed a professional services directory and prepared a corporate recruitment model to attract and retain businesses.  (2004)

Strathcona Business Improvement Association

Strathcona Marketing Strategy

As part of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan, this project created a business attraction and marketing strategy for the Strathcona BIA. The strategy identified green business practices to increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and attract like-minded businesses to the area. The City of Vancouver worked with the Strathcona and Chinatown BIAs, to help create synergies between the two neighbourhoods and their respective marketing plans. Together the BIAs represent around 1,200 businesses. (2008)

SUCCESS (United Chinese Community Enrichment Society)

Chinatown Millennium Gate Tourism Development Initiative

The stunning 15-metre tall traditional Chinese gate at the western entrance to Chinatown is a key component for the revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown. SUCCESS, the Chinatown Business Improvement Association and the Chinatown Merchants’ Association carried out business training, developing and packaging tourism activities for domestic and international travellers, developing and implementing marketing strategies to encourage visitors to shop and use services in Chinatown, and developing partnerships with other tourism-related organizations beyond Chinatown.  (2006)

United We Can (Save Our Living Environment Society)

Business Plan for a Social Enterprise

United We Can (UWC) created a five-year business plan for its social enterprise to guide its future operations, explore opportunities arising from the 2010 Winter Olympics and identify new products.  The planning process also built organizational capacity through a staff mentorship program that developed skills in business planning, project management, communications, meetings and presentations. (2004)

Facility Relocation

UWC is a highly successful social enterprise that provides income, employment and some social services to “binners,” individuals who generate income by selling recyclables collected from garbage bins and recycling boxes. The 2005-2010 UWC Business Plan calls for expansion of services to include bottle depots in other areas of the downtown peninsula and development of new services in multi-material waste collection. These business goals require a larger facility in a new location. This project funding supports the site search and depot relocation initiative. (2008)

Urban Native Youth Association

Native Youth Centre Planning

The Urban Native Youth Association is Metro Vancouver’s only Native youth organization that provides programs such as tutoring, peer leadership, employment, culture, sports and recreation.  A new facility, the Native Youth Centre, will provide a multi-purpose facility for Native youth in Vancouver and a central focus for programs. Funding was provided to undertake architectural work, marketing, capital campaign activities, and project coordination.  (2004)

UsMoms Community Projects

Coordinated Food Processing/Distribution

The goals of this social enterprise project were to establish a coordinated food processing and distribution facility in East Vancouver to improve access to free and/or low-cost nutritional food for low-income and single-parent families. The project also provided employment training and job opportunities for those who use the service. (2004)

Vancouver Agreement Coordination Unit

Corporate Partnership Plan

A detailed corporate partnership plan was required to develop sales and marketing tools to promote the Vancouver Agreement, identify likely corporate partners, define sponsor benefits according to investment level, and to define an overall strategy to maximize in-kind and funding partnerships.  (2006)

Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association

Chinatown Bilingual Campaign

This campaign is the second phase of a successful pilot project initially funded by the City of Vancouver to attract new English-speaking customers to Chinatown while retaining existing Chinese-speaking clientele. The campaign expands upon the Chinatown Bilingual Signage Promotion that includes store decals and the launch of a recipe card program. The campaign also included customer service seminars for shop owners and their employees to enhance awareness and the importance of good customer service. (2006)

As part of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan, this project created a business attraction and marketing strategy for the Chinatown BIA. The focus was to develop a recruitment package for new businesses, create an action plan to improve customer service, market the Chinatown brand to tourism operators and develop marketing tools for merchants. The City of Vancouver worked with the Chinatown and Strathcona BIAs, to help create synergies between the two neighbourhoods and their respective marketing plans. Together, the BIAs represent approximately 1,200 businesses. (2008)

Chinatown Marketing Strategy

As part of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan, this project created a business attraction and marketing strategy for the Chinatown BIA. The focus was to develop a recruitment package for new businesses, create an action plan to improve customer service, market the Chinatown brand to tourism operators and develop marketing tools for merchants. The City of Vancouver worked with the Chinatown and Strathcona BIAs, to help create synergies between the two neighbourhoods and their respective marketing plans. Together, the BIAs represent approximately 1,200 businesses. (2008)

Rickshaw Adventures

This project supported the development of an incorporated company, Rickshaw Adventures, which is owned and operated by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association. Rickshaw Adventures offers guided pedicab tours and fun, safe transportation throughout Gastown and Chinatown. It is a self-sustaining business created to stimulate business activity and heighten awareness by increasing the number of tourists visiting Chinatown and Gastown. (2008)

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