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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Achieving economic and social sustainability in the inner city : the role of business improvements districts Blackman, Michael Jason


The inner city has been the site of many efforts to respond to economic decline and social stresses. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) represent a new form of governance that plays an important role in the revitalization of inner-city districts. This work considers how the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (BIA), a BID located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada can contribute to the sustainable social and economic development in the Downtown Eastside district. The Strathcona BIA is distinguished from most other North American BIDs as its territory includes a large number of industrial properties. Low-income residents and industry in Strathcona currently face the prospect of being displaced by the construction of market housing. A review of literature that considers the processes affecting the inner city is combined with a review of best practices of BIDs to inform recommendations for the Strathcona BIA. A vision for Strathcona that meets the Vancouver Agreement's key objective of 'revitalization without displacement' involves three main components: 1) a public realm that is truly open to everybody; 2) a hub for cultural performance and production where artists can make, display, and sell their work; and 3) a green, specialized industrial cluster that employs local residents and innovates in a competitive marketplace. There are a multitude of activities that the Strathcona BIA may undertake to assist in the sustainable revitalization of the neighbourhood. A good starting point for the BIA involves a partnership with the stakeholders in the community to participate a municipal urban planning process to institutionalize a vision of the community in an Official Development Plan (ODP). The ODP can then serve as an important tool that guides interventions and activities pursued by the multitude of stakeholders in the community, including the BIA.

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