Podcast by Price Tags

June 14, 2019

Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver: 3-Year Progress Report

DVBIA Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver SFU Public Square

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.

Ian Hanomansing, co-anchor of The National, moderated. The panelists were: David Frum, senior editor at The AtlanticSue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation; and Christopher Wylie, former Director of Research for Cambridge Analytica, who exposed how social media data was being exploited for political ends.

The panelists discuss disinformation campaigns and the impact they're having on the Canadian landscape, particularly in this election year. 

Chris Wylie contends that Canadians do not take the problem seriously enough because of what amounts to a superiority complex over the United States. 

Sue Gardner echoes his sentiment, adding that Canadians should be very wary and even "scared" about the influence and impact of social media campaigns on our political and social lives and institutions. 

David Frum agrees there is cause for concern, but also suggests that the "robust middle class" in Canada protects us — for now — and that as we move into the future, the preservation of the middle class is essential to our democracy.

Episode was prodcued  by Price Tags on June 14, 2019.