Increased development in the Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside puts pressure on existing retail and small businesses. Rising land and rent prices – and the general scarcity of affordable 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. At the same time, there are many street-facing underutilized buildings in these areas that could provide far greater benefit to the community.
Together with local community partners and with the support of the City of Vancouver, we are creating 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.
In the first phase of this project, we identified potential locations, assessed retail and service gaps and build partnerships with the community. The next step is to start repurposing one or two locations in the Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourhoods of the Downtown Eastside.