CREATING A LEGACY OF COMMUNITY DOWNTOWN

If cities had heartbeats, Vancouver’s would be beating in its vibrant downtown core. World-renowned for its beauty, accessibility, and livability, Downtown Vancouver is unparalleled when it comes to providing a friendly and inviting environment for residents and visitors alike. 

While the city has always enjoyed a reputation as a fun and safe destination, it was not until the world spotlight shone on Vancouver during Expo ’86 that downtown’s pulse really began to accelerate. The international event introduced Vancouver as a world-class city, and set the stage for an unprecedented boom in development and population growth. Almost 75,000 people now live in the downtown core and just under 9 million people now visit the city each year. Thousands of businesses have been established or expanded to service this thriving community.

Over the past two decades in the legacy left by Expo, many have worked hard to ensure that the city centre reaps the benefits of growth, and addresses the challenges that come with it. And the eyes of the world were once again on downtown Vancouver as it claimed the self-imposed title of 'centre ice' during the 2010 Winter Games.

DVBIA has been instrumental in improving the quality of life in Vancouver’s city centre, by advocating on behalf of its member businesses, as well as residents and visitors. In addition to acting as the principal resource to policy makers, business, media, residents and visitors for information about downtown, the DVBIA has taken a leadership role in establishing programs to address crime prevention, cleanliness, beautification, sustainability, and promotion of downtown as a destination.


DVBIA MILESTONES

1990

  • Vancouver City Council creates the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) at the request of downtown business and property owners.
  • The DVBIA represents approximately 3,500 businesses in an area covering 36 square blocks.


1991

  •  The hard work of the DVBIA's volunteer committees is evidenced in the launch of several new initiatives to improve safety and promote downtown as a destination.
  • New publications and promotions include the What's Up Downtown entertainment guide, Do Thursdays Downtown advertising campaign, and a downtown business directory.
  • Over 10,000 people visit Santa's Magic Forest, the DVBIA's two-week showcase of trees, lights, animated displays, and events on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery.


1992

  • Volunteer artists complete the Granville Street Murals and the Outdoor Public Gallery, which sees several empty storefronts transformed by colorful art in a project sponsored by the DVBIA, the federal government, and other sponsors.
  • The DVBIA publishes Inside Vancouver: The Definitive Downtown Sourcebook, a detailed reference guide to the businesses, services, and amenities available downtown.
  • The DVBIA-sponsored Business Community Facsimile Alert Computer System launches to provide businesses with early warnings from the Police about fraudulent crimes, and to provide education about crime prevention techniques.


1993
 

  • The Downtown Ambassador Program is created to provide visitors with directions and recommendations. Four Ambassadors are hired to entertain passersby with music and comedy, and to dispense information about downtown.
  • In December, a group of 40 volunteer Ambassadors hit the malls to give directions to shoppers and distribute parking discount vouchers.
  • The DVBIA creates the Downtown Access and Parking Map, which highlights the heart of the downtown peninsula and its many attractions.
  • It's Better Downtown is the slogan of a new advertising campaign featuring testimonials from business leaders explaining why they have chosen to locate downtown.
  • The DVBIA receives two International Downtown Association (IDA) awards for Superior Contributions in Downtown Revitalization, for Inside Vancouver: The Definitive Downtown Sourcebook and the Granville Street Murals and Outdoor Public Gallery.


1994

  • A motion to renew the mandate of the DVBIA for another five years meets with unanimous approval from members at the Annual General Meeting.
  • Collaboration between the DVBIA and Vancouver Police Department results in a 50 percent decrease in the incidence of illegal street vendors.
  • The DVBIA launches the StreetFare performance festival in August, in partnership with Street Access Entertainment Society.
  • The International Downtown Association honors the DVBIA with awards of merit for three of its projects: the Official Downtown Vancouver Business Map, the Downtown Ambassadors, and the It's Better Downtown advertising campaign.


1995

  • The DVBIA's joint sponsorship and funding of Police bicycle patrols downtown plays a key role in reducing property crime.
  • Through a partnership with the Vancouver Recovery Club and the Robson Street Business Association, the DVBIA hires two outreach workers to communicate with panhandlers and provide them with referrals to support services in the city.
  • DVBIA representatives participate in the formation of the Vancouver Economic Development Commission.
  • The DVBIA launches its first ever website, featuring the contents of its Downtown Fact Sheets, interactive maps, and articles about downtown.


1996

  • StreetFare, Vancouver's International Street Performers Festival, attracts 23,000 people to downtown. Performers from around the world entertain and delight residents and visitors, and bring business to downtown's array of restaurants and shops.
  • The DVBIA and the Vancouver Cultural Alliance launch the Bravo Vancouver Campaign in October, encouraging Lower Mainland residents to participate in various arts and cultural events occurring in the downtown core.
  • The DVBIA is the recipient of the BC Gas Best in the West award for Facts on Demand, a program that provides easy access to information about downtown to investors and entrepreneurs from around the world.


1997

  • The Downtown Clean Team, a partnership between the DVBIA, Street Youth Job Action and the City of Vancouver, sees young people employed to support the beautification and cleanliness of downtown streets by removing graffiti and litter.
  • New partners sign on to support the summertime Downtown Ambassadors Program, which proves to be a hugely popular and welcome service to the residents, visitors and businesses of downtown.
  • The DVBIA receives the BC Gas Best in the West award for Bravo Vancouver: Experience the Arts.


1998

  • Expansion of the DVBIA to include downtown south and quadrants of the east and west signifies a momentous event in the association's history. It now represents almost 8,000 businesses in a 90-square-block area.
  • The DVBIA hires a full-time Director of Crime Prevention Services.
  • The 700 to 900 blocks of Granville Street are designated as The Entertainment District by the City of Vancouver. Expansion of the DVBIA to include this area and the commitment of local businesses to improve Granville Street are strong contributing factors in this decision.
  • The DVBIA begins an exhaustive planning exercise to create a ten-year business plan.


1999

  • In an overwhelming vote of support from its membership at the Annual General Meeting, the DVBIA's annual budget increases from $705,000 to $1.8 million. The additional funding will help to expand the Downtown Ambassadors Program and create a Loss Prevention Program.
  • Vancouver City Council approves a new 10-year mandate for the DVBIA beginning April 1, 2000.
  • The DVBIA continues to be a strong voice in the formulation of the Downtown Transportation Plan.
  • In the ongoing renaissance of downtown Granville Street, the DVBIA facilitates the installation of decorative banners, hanging floral baskets and sparkling tree lights, and contributes to various promotions in support of local businesses. The association also acts as an advocate for further study of traffic and development issues impacting Granville Street.


2000

  • The DVBIA is honoured by the International Downtown Association with the organization's top award for Downtown Management, based on the communications process leading to the 10-year plan approved in 1999.  It is the fourth prestigious IDA award received by the DVBIA during the course of its brief 10-year history.
  • The DVBIA is honoured by the Business Improvement Associations of BC with the BC Gas Best in the West award for its crime prevention services.
  • The DVBIA extends its highly successful Downtown Ambassadors Program to a year-round service, providing visitors with hospitality services, first aid, and monitoring of safety concerns.
  • The Loss Prevention Program is launched, the first amongst North American Business Improvement Associations to assist downtown businesses in reducing theft and property crime.


2001

  • A new brand and visual identity is launched for the DVBIA, which includes a redesign of all association stationery and publications.
  • During an extended public transit strike, the DVBIA is instrumental in measuring the impact on downtown residents, visitors, and businesses, and meets regularly with provincial representatives, civic officials and TransLink in a successful effort to expedite an end to the strike.
  • The DVBIA continues its role as a sponsor of important civic events, with support for the Word on the Street Festival, St. Paul's Hospital Lights of Hope, Vancouver Tourism awards, and the Greater Vancouver Leadership Summit.


2002

  • The promotion of downtown continues with the launch of the My Downtown branding and marketing campaign, increasing visitation and driving people to the DVBIA website for more information about downtown businesses, retailing, dining, attractions, entertainment, and unique experiences.
  • The DVBIA collaborates with the City of Vancouver on the Granville Street Redesign Study and the Street Furniture Project, both designed to create a more vibrant commercial and entertainment district and provide for new bus shelters, benches, litter receptacles, and bike racks.
  • A new website, www.downtownvancouver.net, is launched to provide even better access to DVBIA resources such as the My Downtown Online Business Directory, program information, facts about downtown, and a comprehensive member database.


2003

  • The DVBIA takes a lead role in the Yes 2010 Campaign to support Vancouver's bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  As a result of the campaign, a public referendum held in February 2003 achieves a 64% result in support of hosting the Games.
  • The International Olympic Committee awards the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to Vancouver and Whistler.
  • The DVBIA is a leading founder of the province-wide Safe Streets Coalition that brings together more than 65 like-minded community and business organizations, in response to the challenges posed by growing disorderly behaviour on our streets.
  • The DVBIA successfully opposes a proposal to triple the sales tax on paid parking in downtown commercial areas.
  • A full-time Member Services and Projects Officer is appointed to interact with members online and by phone, providing a friendly face and voice for the association, greater awareness of services provided, enhanced member relations and improved communications.


2004

  • A comprehensive planning exercise is completed, leading to a three-year Strategic Plan, a concrete plan of action and road map to guide the association for the period 2004-2007.
  • The DVBIA adopts new Vision and Mission statements and Guiding Principles for the association.
  • The hard work of the Safe Streets Coalition pays off when the B.C. Government passes the Safe Streets Act and Trespass Amendment Act, which provide new regulations aimed at combating aggressive panhandling and reducing property crime and trespassing.
  • The DVBIA's involvement in and sponsorship of successful public events continues. More than 30,000 people line the streets on a sunny Saturday in March to take part in Vancouver's first ever St. Patrick's Day Parade on Granville Street, celebrating CelticFest 2004.
  • The DVBIA is a proud supporter of the first annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade held in November, which attracts a crowd of 300,000, brings in a record 9,088 pounds of food for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and 1,200 toys for the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.
  • The DVBIA hosts the 50th Annual Conference of the International Downtown Association, which attracts more than 1,000 delegates from around the world to Vancouver in October, making it IDA's most successful conference ever.


2005

  • The DVBIA celebrates its 15th year of serving its member businesses, and residents and visitors to downtown Vancouver by launching the Mosaic Art Tile Project Legacy Project.
  • The Safe Streets Act and Trespass Amendment Act goes into effect.
  • Construction of the Canada Line, a 19-km long, $2 billion automated rail-based rapid transit service connecting downtown Vancouver with the Vancouver International Airport begins. Two blocks of Granville Street are directly impacted.
  • The DVBIA’s leadership and advocacy efforts in relation to the Safe Streets Coalition were recognized with the Cornerstone of Excellence Award (Government Relations Category) by the Canadian Society of Association Executives.


2006

  • Board and committee members are engaged in a comprehensive planning exercise leading to a five-year Strategic Plan to guide the association through the period 2007-2012.
  • The DVBIA is a strong supporter of the newly formed Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition advocating for Vancouver City Council to change its current policy from a six-to-one ratio to a three-to-one ratio between what commercial property owners pay in property taxes versus a residential property owner over the course of a twenty-year period.
  • Construction begins on Canada Line, a 19-km rapid transit line running from Vancouver International Airport to downtown.
  • The first ShopGranville promotion and loyalty campaign runs for 6 weeks offering the equivalent of tax savings at participating Granville Street merchants to encourage people to “Shop the Line” during construction of Canada Line.


2007

  • Canada Line and the DVBIA run cooperative advertising features in 24 Hours Vancouver to promote shopping on Granville Street during construction.
  • The City designates $21 million for the re-design of Granville Street. A DVBIA Granville Street Construction & Design committee is struck to work with the City to meet common principles and mitigate impact to businesses.
  • The DVBIA, along with all Vancouver BIAs, support in principle Mayor Sam Sullivan’s Project Civil City aimed at reducing aggressive panhandling, the open drug market and homelessness in the next few years.
  • 2007 property tax allocation held by Vancouver City Council to 2006 levels as recommended by the Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition.
  • For the first time, the DVBIA sponsors the free Jazz at Canada Place event as part of the TD Canada Trust International Jazz Festival.

 

2008

  • Construction begins on the long-awaited re-design of Granville Street. Ten blocks, from Drake to West Cordorva will be transformed, with new lighting, street furniture and sidewalk treatments. A new civic space will be created on the 700 block for festivals and major events.
  • The eight-year-old Downtown Ambassador program expands operations from 16 hours/day to 24 hours/day thanks to funding from the City of Vancouver on a one-year trial basis
  • The DVBIA engages its members to help it define the association's role during the 2010 Winter Games. A 15-month operating plan is created.
  • Six more mosiac art tiles are created in partnership with the 2010 Cultural Olympiad bringing to 18 the number of free pieces of 'art under foot' for visitors to downtown to enjoy.
  • The Downtown Community Court launches co-locating justice, health and social services.

 

2009

  • The majority of construction re-design of Granville Street is completed. Ten blocks, from Drake to West Cordova are transformed, with new lighting, street furniture and sidewalk treatments. A new civic space is created on the 700 block for festivals and major events.
  • More than 35 business readiness presentations are given to 1,200 attendees representing 800 unique businesses getting them ready for the 2010 Winter Games. 
  • The Downtown Ambassador program expands into Gastown.  
  • New sponsorship includes the 2009 Juno Awards FanFest on Granville Street, the Canadian Country Music Awards, DOXA Film Festival, the Queer Film Festival, the Europeon Union Film Festival and the return of the Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square. 
  • The $2 billion, 19km Canada Line linking the Vancouver International Airport with downtown opens three months ahead of schedule and includes two downtown stations: Vancouver City Centre and Waterfront Station.  

2010

  • Downtown is 'centre ice' as Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Games. The Olympics entice more than 50% of locals or more than 1 million people to venture downtown for free activities, country pavilions and sporting events. Pedestrian corridors on Granville and Robson Streets are a big hit.
  • New sponsorships include LunarFest (during the Olympics) and TaiwanFest on Granville Street.
  • The newly re-designed Granville Street is ready in time for the Olympics. People of all ages and nationalities take to the street to 'reclaim' it as their own. It was an outcome dreamed of, but never imagined. To extend the warm Olympic feeling through the summer, 'Rediscover Granville 2.010' is staged with the City of Vancouver to take advantage of the street still closed to traffic. Festivals, dancing, extra seating, artificial turf and more are added.
  • Buses return to Granville Street after a four-year absence for Canada Line and re-design construction. Street parking returns to Seymour and Howe Streets.
  • Separated bike lanes along the Dunsmuir viaduct, Hornby Street and the Burrard Street bridge complete a downtown loop of new cycling options.
  • Four final mosaic art tiles are created during the 2010 Cultural Olympiad and installed in city sidewalks bringing to 22 the number of pieces of 'art under foot.'
  • DVBIA defends its Downtown Ambassadors program against a complaint brought by Pivot Legal Society and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users to the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
  • Vancouver City Council approves a new 10-year mandate for the DVBIA beginning April 1, 2010.

     

    2011

  • Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition achieves success in getting the City to shift 1% of taxes from businesses to residents resulting in a $142 million shift since 2005; $54 million in the DVBIA area specifically.
  • The Bosman Hotel Community on Seymour Street opens as the Vancouver location for the federal Chez Home/Soi pilot housing project with 100 temporary beds and social services. The DVBIA hires Bosman clients to assist with gum removal services.
  • The International Downtown Association and Canadian Society of Association Executives recognize the DVBIA’s work for the 2010 Olympics with multiple awards.
  • The City opens HEAT shelters during the winter months to house the homeless throughout the city, including downtown.
  • The City, in conjunction with DVBIA and other business groups, completes an economic impact study of the new Hornby Street separate bike lanes.
  • VIVA Vancouver, a celebration of road space as public space, is launched on Granville Street on weekends during the summer.
  • The DVBIA launches an award-winning ‘Vanlover’ campaign to attract Vancouverites back downtown after 60 businesses where vandalized and/or looted causing millions of dollars in damage following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

     

    2012

    • Year one of a new five-year strategic plan begins with a new vision: Downtown Vancouver is a vibrant, prosperous, safe and sustainable community, and with a mission that by 2017, Downtown Vancouver will provide an enriched urban experience that cannot be matched.
    • DVBIA members help prioritize and provide input on creation of the City’s Transportation 2040 Plan.
    • The Downtown Ambassador program re-launches with new blue uniforms and with a renewed focus on serving and promoting members and assisting visitors.
  • The BC Human Rights Tribunal rules in favour of the DVBIA and its Downtown Ambassadors program in a complaint brought by Pivot Legal Society and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.
  • The TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival moves its opening weekend from Gastown to downtown. Downtown Jazz is sponsored by the DVBIA.
  • An integrated street-level wayfinding system with the City, TransLink and DVBIA is piloted.

 

2013

  • After years of residential development, numerous commercial buildings begin construction in the central business district.
  • The iconic Sears department store on Granville Street is sold to Cadillac Fairview. Re-development of the site begins and Nordstrom, a Microsoft Centre of Excellence and Sony Pictures Imageworks HQ are announced as major tenants.
  • DVBIA provides input on the City/TransLink’s Downtown Bus Review, the first review of the network in years.
  • Property owners and managers on Hastings West create an advisory committee with additional dedicated funds to improve the retail and public realm of the street. A ‘Perch’ in the parkette between Hastings @ Hornby called Lot 19 is born with bistro tables and chairs.
  • A graffiti abatement project with Emily Carr University of Art & Design sees 12 electrical boxes on Granville Street WRAPed in artwork; the project wins awards from BIABC and IDA.
  • Street Food City, a hub of food trucks, is added to the Dine Out Vancouver calendar of events in January sponsored by the DVBIA.
  • New Member Orientations are launched to educate and engage new members.
  • Downtown Ambassadors begin using web-enabled iPads in the field to offer real-time information anywhere, anytime.

2014

  • The DVBIA supports the Mayors’ Council’s new 30-year regional transportation plan that will require a Provincial referendum to generate new funding.
  • City of Vancouver Council, with input from the DVBIA, approves a new 30-year West End Community Plan that includes the two blocks of commercial/retail on Alberni Street.
  • Property owners and managers on Alberni create an advisory committee with additional dedicated funds to improve the retail and public realm of the street, including a major lighting upgrade.
  • Thirteen guiding principles are developed with input from festival organizes and members to provide input on the City’s planned re-development of the north plaza on the Vancouver Art Gallery. 
  • Terracycle, the City and DVBIA launch a cigarette butt recycling pilot program on Granville Street aimed at keeping sidewalks clean and butts out of the water system.
  • ‘The Perch’ public space activation program expands to three privately owned plazas with bistro tables and chairs, buskers and other activations.
  • Downtown Ambassadors and Loss Prevention Team members transition to management by Securiguard.
  • An appeal of the BC Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling in favour of the DVBIA and its Downtown Ambassadors program goes to the BC Supreme Court.

2015

  • The DVBIA celebrates its 25th anniversary. The possibilities are endless….
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