June 14, 2019

Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver: 3-Year Progress Report

In 2015, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) undertook a strategic planning process that might have invited a bit of cynicism — give a fancy name and lengthy timeline to a stock-in-trade exercise, and call it transformative.

That exercise, however, was Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver, and it has already proven to be anything but typical. For one, it’s a 25-year legacy ‘vision’ project laid upon a foundation of rigorous research and public engagement. For another, it included recommendations that, unlike many corporate visions, were tied to tangible actions that would change the very face of downtown and how it would be utilized for the next generation.

And as a public expression of that vision’s intention, CEO Charles Gauthier committed DVBIA to “bring something to life” within the first year of releasing the report. So they did — award-winning Alley Oop, the laneway behind West Hastings street between Seymour and Granville, which was transformed from service corridor into a bright, playful public space.

An even better example of the Re-Imagine commitment? The governance structure of the DVBIA itself which, behind Gauthier’s leadership, was re-jigged — Board refreshed, committees disbanded, committees created — in order to empower and energize the organization, and better position it to realize the recommendations contained in the Re-Imagine report.

As a result of bringing the leaders of tomorrow to the forefront of the organization, the DVBIA has, of late, found itself championing a variety of initiatives that, as Gord put it, seem a bit foreign for a business-forward organization. Bike lanes. Child care. Living wages. Why would a business advocacy organization be involved in many of the same issues that are often believed to make business more challenging?

Gauthier answers this question, and many more, with the support of special guests Landon Hoyt and Julianne King of the SFU Public Square research team that led the project. Armed with three years’ worth of data and insights, they compare reality to the plan, and give an honest assessment of how well-positioned the DVBIA is to move forward, both with ongoing dialogue, and the commitment to change.

Championing the Vision: 3 Years into Re-imagine” will be presented to members at the DVBIA Annual General Meeting next Tuesday, as one of the cornerstones of the organization’s resolution to renew its mandate for another 10 years, which will be subject to a vote.

Guess what? We think it might just pass.

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Ackery’s Alley is another addition to people places in Vancouver, and is set to launch with a fun party:

  • Thursday August 9
  • 7 – 9 pm
  • Behind (east ) of the Orpheum Theatre (near 675 Smithe St)

It’s another welcome transformation of underutilized city space.  It joins Alley Oop (more HERE), Jim Deva Plaza (HERE), Bute and Robson (more HERE) and the 800 block of Robson Street (more HERE). I’ll bet I’ve missed a few.

Funding for Ackery’s Alley was based in part on a Kickstarter campaign. At last count, 428 people had pledged $ 64,736 to make it happen.

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Looking for some fun tomorrow morning (Wednesday May 25)?  Meet me at London Drugs plaza, Georgia & Granville.

Good old HUB is gearing up for Bike to Work Week (May 30 to June 5) with another Share the Road Challenge.  In this friendly competition, various groups and companies form teams, with members using different modes of transportation — transit, bike, car. Each team picks a common start point and we see who gets to the finish line first (Granville & Georgia). All in good fun — with a point to prove.

Teams last year included City of Vancouver.  Mayor Robertson (bike) came in second to Councilor Reimer (transit). Councilor Jang (car) was a distant third.

See you at around 8 a.m., when the first team members should start arriving. I’ll be interested to see whether Mr. Gauthier of DVBIA will be a team member this year, as promised to me in 2015.

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