As summer begins to wind down, I’d like to update you on some important issues in Hastings Crossing.
There have been rising reports of safety and security incidents in the area over the past weeks. It can be difficult to know how to respond to these incidents, and to understand the responsibilities of police and the City of Vancouver.
At times, you may face a non-emergency situation that still limits your ability to carry out your operations. If you’d like support de-escalating a situation, HxBIA has a contract with Mission Possible Neighbours that allows any member to call for a response. You can reach an MP Neighbours supervisor at 604-338-7150.
In emergency situations, please call 911.
I have requested that a representative of the Vancouver Police Department and of the City of Vancouver, particularly Sanitation, take part in a meeting with BIA members to respond to questions about services available and appropriate responses. Please send me an email if you’d like to take part in that meeting.
In more positive news, this month we are launching a social media initiative to highlight the strength and diversity of HxBIA members. We plan to create compelling stories of the people, businesses, non-profits—even the architecture in Hastings Crossing. These stories will be shared on our social media channels and we would welcome interest from any member with a story to tell.
One of those members, PrintPrint, is currently offering free $100 credits to local businesses in need of printing and graphic design services. Please see this link for details.
Lastly, please keep an eye on our website for information on our upcoming Annual General Meeting. This meeting will once again be online only this year. We look forward to hearing from members on September 23 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
All the best,
While the BIA has been relatively quiet on social media while we focused on Covid and renewal in 2020, we understand the value of our reach on these channels. We will be making much more targeted and frequent use of our website and our Instagram and Twitter accounts. One way we aim to highlight some of the organizations and people in our BIA is through short articles we can share with our followers. If you are interested in having the BIA share a story on your organization, please contact me directly.
We have recently welcomed Clean Start BC to Hastings Crossing. Clean Start is a social enterprise providing employment to people with barriers. One of their services is specifically targeted at preventing the spread of Covid-19; more information is available on their website.
Our additional cleaning service through United We Can continues to run in the western end of the BIA between Cambie and Richards along Pender and Hastings (including alleys). Last summer, we coordinated with the City on an additional MP Neighbours shift in the afternoons/evenings around the street market. We received the good news that this additional support has been extended for the full year 2021. And of course we maintain our regular contract with MP Neighbours throughout the BIA, and they are able to respond to safety concerns that you may have (604-338-7150 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Please direct any emergency calls to 911, of course.
Our neighbourhood is not looking its best these days and after adding more cleaning support, I’m now working on two more initiatives to improve sanitary conditions. And as we look forward to the holiday period, I’m exploring an opportunity with Atira and the City of Vancouver to help local organizations brighten up the neighbourhood with holiday lights.
We would love to make it easy for you to plan, buy, and install a light display in your windows. To this end, we plan to make funding available to offset the cost of lights and will offer design and installation services at no cost.
Please contact me as soon as possible if this is something you may be interested in!
As we move through the summer and into the fall of an eventful 2020, HxBIA continues to engage on priorities for the Downtown Eastside. Beyond Covid-related supports such as rent relief and property tax reduction, I have heard from many of you that the levels of garbage and other waste have become a serious barrier to operating in the neighbourhood. The BIA has been working with other DTES organizations and the City of Vancouver to improve conditions and I will have an update on a new cleaning initiative soon.
We are also developing our strategic plan to cover the BIA's next five years. Member input is critical to this plan to ensure we reflect your priorities, concerns, and vision for Hastings Crossing. I encourage you to take five minutes to complete the survey.
Your opportunity to provide feedback through our online survey has been extended and will now close on September 5—in two days. Those who complete this short survey are eligible for one of three prizes:
· Academie Duello is offering the choice of a Swordfighting and Adventure or an Archery and Adventure session for two.
· Community Impact Real Estate is providing a $100 gift card to East Van Roasters.
· The BIA is offering a $100 gift card from The Pint Public House.
If you haven’t already done so, please take advantage of this opportunity to shape how your BIA serves you. And don’t forget to drop me a line if you've already completed the survey and didn't enter your contact information for the draw!
In addition to the survey, there will be three virtual meetings over the next two months:
From the article:
"What many critics fail to realize or admit is that the DTES is a community. Despite being in the vise-grip of a deadly health crisis, this is a neighbourhood where people know and look out for each other, and it is one in desperate need of normalizing, beyond government agencies.
“What is happening in the DTES is mental health colliding with drugs,” summarizes Snelgar. “On whether this should stop people visiting the area, no, that would only hasten its decline, and in my opinion we need to continue to work to uplift the area and, more importantly, the individuals.”
Our DTES needs Vancouverites to care for it by frequenting it. By being there. By walking its streets. By supporting its citizens and businesses, not by fear mongering or creating division — something Snelgar is very familiar with."
In response to the increasing challenges of street activity and litter faced by businesses within the district, HxBIA has teamed up with Mission Possible to launch a new service for HxBIA business members.
This service, free to members, gives you the ability to request support for removal of litter and drug paraphernalia from your storefront and alley space on an as-needed basis.
HxBIA’s MP Neighbour teams will now have access to the equipment required to respond directly and quickly to businesses as needs arise. Simply email SERVICE@HXBIA.COM or call either the BIA office at 604.789.2186 or MP Neighbours at 604.253.4469 Ext. 152 to arrange for assistance.
This service is available starting August 15th Monday – Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM.
This service is an expansion to our MP Neighbours service. As always, the MP Neighbour teams will remain available to members through our regular patrols and on an on-call basis to respond to deescalation or safety concerns.
Additionally, this expansion project also results in two extra days per week of micro-cleaning service provided by Mission Possible Maintenance, bringing total days of micro-cleaning services in HxBIA to twelve days from four.
Whether they live in the neighbourhood or not, the (HxBIA) said it is inviting all Vancouverites to a free outdoor movie showing in one of the city’s oldest downtown outdoor public spaces.
On July 14, the HxBIA will present a free screening of The Truman Show, which stars Jim
Carrey as Truman Burbank, an insurance salesman who discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.
The movie will began at sunset, at approximately 9 pm in Victory Square, located at 200 West Hastings Street.
“We are thrilled to be putting this free event on for our community,” said HxBIA Executive Director, Brennan Fitzgerald. “We see these types of events in other parts of the city and are glad to be bringing this to the Downtown Eastside for all to enjoy.”
The HxBIA noted that this screening marks the organization’s first outdoor community movie event.
Anyone planning to attend is advised to arrive early to get a good spot and bring a blanket or chair with them to sit on.
Vancouverites will be able to soak in a movie under the stars for free in Victory Square Park on Sunday, July 14 at sunset.
Presented by the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association, the event will mark the first time that a movie is shown outdoors in Victory Square Park.
Guests will be able to view the classic comedy, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, an insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.
“We are thrilled to be putting this free event on for our community.”, says HxBIA Executive Director, Brennan Fitzgerald.
“We see these types of events in other parts of the city and are glad to be bringing this to the Downtown Eastside for all to enjoy.”
The showing will begin at sunset at approximately 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 14. Guests are advised to arrive early in order to get a spot and to bring a chair or blanket to sit on.
Free movie in the park at Victory Square When: Sunset at approximately 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 14
Where: Victory Square Park – 200 W Hastings St, Vancouver
HxBIA has added our support for Councillor Lisa Dominato's request for a Nighttime Economy Strategy.
We believe great potential exists to further activate Vancouver's nighttime economy. Here in HxBIA and the Downtown Eastside more broadly, particular consideration should be given to examine how a Nighttime Economic Strategy could benefit businesses, residents, and community members. HxBIA looks forward to participating in future discussions and will work on behalf of our members to ensure this strategy can bring benefits to our district.
Read more about the motion here
Vancouver City Council has passed a 2% tax shift from commercial to residential after significant advocacy from Vancouver's BIA's and other experts.
In a time when commercial properties are facing drastic increases in assessments and massive tax increases, this tax relief is much needed.
"Business Improvement Associations made their case to council Monday, with the West Broadway BIA telling councillors that it had seen 75 businesses close since 2015 — many citing rising tax bills."
Read more here:
Written for Daily Hive by Brennan Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association.
In his recent Globe and Mail article, Marcus Gee’s description of his visit to the Downtown Eastside is certainly a common narrative we hear from many visitors to this unique part of our city.
He isn’t wrong with regards to what can be witnessed when walking down our streets and alleyways. He’s not wrong that governments have failed to adequately address the complex challenges that exist here nor provide for the most basic needs of some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens.
And he’s not wrong that the situation is unacceptable.
But allow us to showcase what else you will see and do on any given day in the Downtown Eastside once you open your eyes and heart a little wider.
You’ll see a neighbourhood filled with people from all walks of life. You’ll see teams from Mission Possible, a social enterprise transforming lives through meaningful work, keeping our streets clean and safe. Around every corner you’ll discover murals and public art that tell stories of the community. You might take in one of a number of events and festivals going on, such as the Eastside Culture Crawl or Heart of the City Festival. You can enjoy award winning chocolate at East Van Roasters, a social enterprise that employs and empowers women re-entering the workforce. You’ll have a great lunch at the renowned Ovaltine Cafe, which was just identified as one of the world’s top 50 cafés for its “noirish, Edward Hopper” charm. To end the day, relax at Skwachàys Lodge, an innovative Indigenous art hotel and gallery.
You’ll see a place with more than its fair share of bumps and bruises, but you’ll also catch a glimpse of what makes this community strong, vibrant, and dynamic.
If we’re going to be honest about the Downtown Eastside, we also have to be real. We can talk about the innovation, compassion, energy, and culture this community holds without minimizing the complexity of the challenges that exist here or the need for action from all levels of government. There’s more here than what might first meet the eye.
We don’t presume to speak on behalf of the Downtown Eastside community as a whole, but as a collaboration of hundreds of businesses and organizations in this area, we are glad to offer our story for the consideration of all visitors to our neighbourhood.
So if you’re interested in being surrounded by a community rich with diversity, culture, innovation, and excitement, we invite you to come for a visit. Take in a festival; check out our unique businesses and social enterprises; meet new friends; volunteer. Discover the area and all it has to offer for yourself.
Yes, what you might see in the Downtown Eastside may shock or surprise you, but keep an open mind and you’ll be surprised in more ways than one.