Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings
Increased development in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood creates pressure on existing retail and small businesses. Rising land and rent prices – and the general scarcity of affordable commercial spaces – threaten their sustainability while new commercial functions cater mostly to a far more affluent demographic and are detached from the community’s cultural heritage. This loss of cultural identity is particularly apparent in Chinatown and Strathcona. At the same time, there are many street-facing underutilized buildings in these areas that could provide far greater benefit to the community.
Joji Kumagai of the Strathcona BIA, Wilco van Bemmel of Walas Concepts and June Chow of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, have recently taken the initiative for a project to create community-serving retail in underutilized Chinese society buildings. Our project will create opportunities for affordable retail and micro-enterprises that serve the community, strengthen the local culture with functions that fit the community fabric and cultural identity, provide inclusive employment opportunities and improve the public realm by activating storefronts and streets.
The City of Vancouver has awarded a DTES capital grant for phase 1 of our project. In this first phase, we search for potential locations, assess retail and service gaps, build partnerships with Chinese societiesRead More
The Strathcona BIA Renewal process has concluded. On March 8, 2017 City Council approved the renewal term of seven years through 2024 and the funding cap.
During the various consultation sessions members identified many key priorities such as beautification initiatives and public perception of the area, as well as wanting to see continued investment in safety, property maintenance and cleaning programs.
Now that the process has wrapped up we can look ahead and begin evaluating and implementing additional programs such as:
- Beautification projects that could include public art pieces like installations, sculptures, murals, upgraded lighting etc.
- Pilot program to address and support members with debris on private property including hazardous material.
- Sustainable transportation advocacy plan that incorporates parking, movement of goods and people and curbside uses.
- Implementation of a Community Policing Centre on East Hastings.
- Strengthen our advocacy work at various government levels.
Thank you to all our members for your ongoing support, especially those who take the time to submit feedback and attend working sessions. Your feedback is what shapes the programming.
We look forward to working with, and on your behalf to build a thriving mixed-use, inclusive, and resilient local economy.
SBIA Open Letter to Vancouver Coastal Health and City Council – Supervised Injection Sites Consultation Process
The SBIA has penned an open letter to Vancouver Coastal Health and City Council regarding recent public consultations spearheaded by Vancouver Coastal Health with respect to the two new supervised injection sites in our community. A copy of the letter is below or click HERE to view our op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun.
Proposed locations for the sites are:
- The new DTES Mental Health and Substance Use Drop-In-Centre at 528 Powell
- The Heatley Integrated Health Centre at 330 Heatley
An open letter to Vancouver City Council and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
On September 21st, Vancouver Coastal Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer announced the location of two new proposed supervised injection sites for the Downtown Eastside (DTES), both of which are slated to open in early 2017 in Strathcona. As the representative body of 450 businesses, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) welcomes the opportunity for meaningful consultation on this important matter, because what our community comprising 9,000 residents and 7,000 employees has been afforded to-date borders on shameful.
With three open houses scheduled in the middle of the work day, during the middle of the week, we gather that “official” consultation on this matter is now considered complete. This raises concern for us, not to mention the broader question as to whether this is the type of process Vancouverites can expect from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) when proposing supervised injection sites in other neighbourhoods.
In a hurry to prepare applications in response to a grave increase in overdose deaths throughout the city, VCH raced through the required process. Only a handful of the business owners and residents we work with were aware of the VCH-led open houses or had an opportunity to attend the sessions and provide input. The session I attended had less than twelve participants present.
The SBIA supports supervised injection sites and recognizes the need for these facilities, but they represent just one pillar of an overarching strategy. What is not clear at this juncture is what additional resources will be provided to support these new sites and ensure the safety of those who will use and work in them, as well as Strathcona residents, customers, and business owners who live, work and play in the community where these sites will soon operate.
As the city?s oldest neighbourhood, Strathcona has deep roots in the business community of modern Vancouver, serving as a gateway to the city for those arriving by road, sea and rail since the mid 1800?s. A “starter neighbourhood” historically, Strathcona remains a vibrant mix of industrial businesses and single family homes despite a noticeable lack of traditional amenities such as grocery stores, parks, neighbourhood pharmacies and walk-in health clinics, express transit service, sports fields, public pools or ice rinks, a community police centre, or even a post office.
Members of the SBIA are proud to be part of the DTES. However, ongoing public health issues like overdose related deaths in the area have prompted the need for renewed and meaningful dialogue with Vancouver?s policy makers on our urgent resourcing needs. Rubber stamping policies that address one issue, albeit a critical one, will not solve the broader problems communities will encounter, and could easily create new ones.
Strathcona business owners already cite safety as a primary concern due to an increase in homelessness, open substance use, and often, misinformation about the issues at hand. Currently, the Vancouver Police Department?s DTES BEAT Patrol ends at Gore Street, the border of Strathcona, but there were no indications at the VCH open houses that additional resources will be directed to the help the VPD extend their patrol into Strathcona, which experiences the same issues that are prevalent a few blocks away.
Supervised injection sites cannot exist in a silo, removed from the broader community fabric, especially amongst the mix of businesses and homes bordering the two new sites. In order to truly move the dial on issues that affect all Vancouver neighbourhoods, we need to work together – government, business, residents and advocates – to develop holistic approaches that address the health challenges we currently face. This begins with up-front, open and collaborative stakeholder engagement to ensure the community understands the importance and impact of supervised injection sites, and continues with a multipronged approach to both harm reduction and safety.
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association welcomes the opportunity to host a working session with members of Vancouver City Council, Vancouver Coastal Health and any business owner, resident, or stakeholder that wishes to build a better city.
We hope you will be in touch.
Strathcona Business Improvement Association
As part of the 2016 Hastings Urban Tree Nursery expansion, three beautiful new benches have been added to the Strathcona streetscape. You’ll find them at 649 E Hastings Street, 901 E Hastings Street, and 477 Powell Street. Haeccity Architecture, a small architecture firm located in Strathcona, approached SBIA with a customizable bench design and generously offered to donate the design and their services for the HUTN.
Community Design Workshop
On February 18th, SBIA and Haeccity held a Bench Design Workshop open to all SBIA members and the public. Sixteen people attended and collaboratively customized the Haeccity bench design to suit the desires of the businesses at each location. The finalized bench designs were sent out for multiple quotes for fabrication of the steel and wood portions. SBIA members returned the most favourable quotes and Quest Metal Works and MakerLabs were selected to manufacture the steel chassis and the wood slats, respectively.
Manufacturing and Installation
Haeccity donated reclaimed fir beams they had salvaged from the previous MakerLabs location in Mount Pleasant when it was demolished in 2015. The benches were installed in August and September 2016 by MakerLabs. Check out these awesome benches around the neighbourhood and let us know if you have a favourite design!
Do you think your business is a good candidate for a HUTN tree planter or bench outside your storefront? Contact the SBIA sustainability coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more about participating in the HUTN 2017 expansion.Read More
We are pleased to announce that at the 2016 Annual General Meeting held on September 28, 2016 at the Pink Pearl Restaurant, members unanimously voted in support of the renewal term of 7 years, the cap of $7.449M and the 17/18 budget. The Board of Directors expresses its thanks and gratitude to the many members for their time and input for face-to-face meetings, survey participation, open house attendance and conversations over the phone to help set the mandate and budget for the next seven years.
The final step of the renewal process will be a letter from the City of Vancouver in late 2016 to officially inform SBIA members of the BIA’s renewal application. Then the renewal application will go to Council in spring 2017 for approval.
At the AGM, we said farewell to two outstanding directors, Toby Barazzuol and Colin Stansfield. Toby served on the Board for over ten years, including three years as the Chair, and was instrumental in spearheading the SBIA’s sustainability work and community-building efforts. This work has allowed the SBIA to represent the interests of its members in a much broader spectrum of community dialogues and to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in external funding to deliver innovative projects. Colin served on the Board for four years and was instrumental in redefining the work of the Community Relations Committee by initiating the Policy & Positions document and advocacy strategic direction and was a key resource to the bring local news back to the Board table. Thank you Toby and Colin for your many years of service to the Strathcona BIA.
Board of Directors 2016-2017
Appointed by acclamation, we welcomed two new directors, Darryl Ray and Anu Kainth, to fill the vacant seats left by Toby and Colin. Darryl Ray is the Partner and General Manager of the Butler Did It Catering and Anu Kainth is a property manager for buildings in the Railway area. Re-elected to the Board were Emma Carscadden (Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects), Tammy Tsang (My Loud Speaker Marketing), Rick Havlak (Homestead Junction) and Jason Gilron (Pacific Restaurant Supply) while Peter Joe (Sunrise Soya Foods), Wayne Nelsen (Patricia Hotel), Amanda Dalla Zanna (Savoury Chef) and Braden Parker (Low Tide Properties) will be serving their second year of the two year term.
The AGM concluded with keynote remarks from David Lewis, Team Lead for the Integrated Graffiti Management Program for the City of Vancouver.Read More
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2000. We serve more than 850 business and commercial properties within our catchment area and provide advocacy, marketing, property maintenance, safety and sustainability services to our members. Funding is provided through a BIA levy, mandated by a City of Vancouver bylaw that is required to be renewed at the end of each renewal term. The current seven-year renewal term expires in March 2017, and your BIA Board of Directors, a volunteer group comprised of property and business owners from the area is seeking a renewal agreement for a new seven-year term, to run from April 2017 until March 2024. Renewal was a major initiative by the Board of Directors in late 2015 and 2016 and the SBIA engaged members in a number of outreach initiatives to get feedback and seek approval for another seven year term. These initiatives included:
- Development of Proposed Directions for 2017 to 2024: Renewal, which highlights key activities and achievements from 2010 to 2017 and proposed strategic objectives for 2017 to 2024
- Two surveys of members to solicit feedback on past achievements, future direction and budget
- Open House on June 28
- Door to door outreach and in-person meetings with property and business owners
- At the 2016 AGM, there will be a vote on the renewal term of seven years, the budget cap over this period and the 17/18 budget.
Spotlight on Associated Plastics with co-founder Lloyd Gormann
For his entire career, Lloyd Gormann has been involved in the plastics industry. Whether it?s movie props and set or manufacturing a range of specialized pieces from simple clear Plexiglas to scale model dinosaurs to guitar accessories, he has done it all.
In 1996, while working for a large plastics company, Lloyd and business partner Ernie Singh decided to start the business that would become?Associated Plastics. Lloyd wanted to create a company that was geared more towards specialty and smaller project runs that offered quality products and service for a good price.
Associated Plastics offers a variety of services, including?fabrication?of plastics, non-ferrous metals and wood, and their?installation. Having such diversity in the products and services helped them greatly in the beginning.
Like many small businesses in the startup phase, cash flow and getting their name out were their biggest challenges. Fortunately, Lloyd had established relationships with set decorators, which secured film industry work ?right off the bat?; this work ensured growth from the start. He remarks that when working with the film industry,?It?s not so much price but the quality of service you offer? that sets a company apart.
From its outset, Associated Plastics has had a deep commitment to the community. ?The first thing we look for on a resume is if that person is from the area,? says Lloyd. He also tries to source everything as locally as possible and to work with businesses in the neighbourhood.
Lloyd Gormann is co-founder of Associated Plastics located at?1104 Franklin Street. Associated?Plastics has had its work featured on the Canada Line and on various film sets, including the television?show?Smallville.
To learn more about the company, please visit?associatedplastics.com.Read More
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association has teamed up with the Province of B.C.?s LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program to help small and medium sized businesses identify potential energy and money saving opportunities.
The Strathcona BIA is always looking for opportunities to support member businesses in improving their ability to thrive well into the future. Partnering on this offer with the Province of B.C., BC Hydro, FortisBC, and Metro Vancouver to offer a walk-though energy assessment of your business, and to identify areas for savings, makes good sense environmentally and economically.
LiveSmart BC Business Energy Advisors (BEAs) will be in our area between
October 17th and 23rd to conduct free, on-site walk-through energy assessments. An assessment takes approximately one hour. Following the assessment, you will receive a report tailored to your business? needs outlining ways to conserve energy, how to receive rebates and incentives where available, and what bottom line savings can be achieved if recommended changes are made. Opportunities include technology upgrades such as lighting and boilers, as well as low- and no-cost opportunities to save energy, improve the look of your business, and reduce maintenance.
This is a free service with no obligation from your business to implement any recommended energy saving opportunities. Businesses that do wish to proceed with changes will also receive assistance in identifying suitable contractors and applying for utility incentive programs where applicable.
To book an energy assessment, learn more, or confirm eligibility, please contact the Metro Vancouver BEA team at email@example.com or 604.255.5734, and identify that you are a Strathcona business.