Share your ideas on the creation of a green community economic development commission

BOB Business and Social Enterprise Developer, Brian Smith,  has been asked to participate in the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Working Group on the Green Economy.   The Group is being convened by the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC).

At the first meeting of the group, there were six identified priority areas for which the group agreed to establish sub-committees.  Each sub-committee’s first objective was to prepare a short document on the priority area for the next meeting on July 14th. This draft document is to outline the main opportunity in the specific area, along with 3-5 actions that could lead to green job growth. The Working Group will then research these recommendations and incorporate them into a draft implementation plan for the Greenest City initiative, which will be open for further comment by the entire External Advisory Committee.

The sub-committee that Brian has proposed and is interested in helping to steer concerns Community Economic Development.  This applies directly to the inner-city and people who have barriers to employment, but has positive implications in other neighbourhoods too.

In Brian’s words:

…CED is applicable across the City and, in turn, could benefit a variety of neighbourhoods, small businesses, social enterprises, co-ops and people. Given the City’s apparent commitment to the Greenest City initiative, I feel there is a good opportunity to advance some CED in Vancouver.  BUT, I need your help! So, please reply to BOB with your respective interest and time availability in helping to shape a CED strategy that can be included in the Greenest City Implementation Plan.



Please read Brian’s overview of the CED Sub-committee below:

Community Economic Development (CED) for the Greenest City

CED is a holistic approach to economic development involving the mobilization of resources from various economic and non-economic sectors in the community with the intention of building local capacity and local solutions.  It is particularly relevant to the world’s greenest city as it uses local resources, which generally are lower in carbon intensity, to find local and more sustainable solutions to local problems.  Integrating CED into the green economy strategies for Vancouver’s Greenest City ambitions compliments the more traditional macro-economic development strategies by integrating localized approaches with broader global outreach strategies. The benefits of a CED approach include:  local employment, local investment, increased local capacity and commitment, local spending in the local economy, and appropriate sustainable solutions to local challenges.

Goal: Foster green business development and associated job creation for Vancouver’s marginalized inner-city residents

Action 1: Apply a CED Lens to all programs and policies of the City, where each department, program, grant, expenditure from parks and social development to legal services and planning would eventually be able to articulate the social, economic and environmental impact of their work/business/purchasing.

Action 1a: Establish a City of Vancouver funded Community Economic Development Commission that would:

  • work internally applying the CED Lens and externally facilitating CED on the ground;
  • develop and implement procurement policy that directly benefits co-operatives, social enterprises and small businesses that are committed to hiring people with barriers to employment; and,
  • educate community (NGOs, workers, and businesses) about realistic opportunities for green job and green business development

Action 1b: Institutionalize – as part of any development permit process, require  a Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) as a necessary component of all new developments (for local jobs, procurement, and/or training).

Action 2: Establish a green zone (may need an incentive attached) in the DTES for piloting green enterprise development projects.

Action 2a: Develop employment agreements with incentives for medium to large size green businesses to hire people with barriers to employment.

Action 2b: Establish and administer a green CED fund to facilitate green employment or business development projects in the inner-city;

Action 2c: By way of an immediate pilot project, establish, through the allocation of City-owned land, an Urban Farm Network that trains and hires people with barriers to employment

Action 3: Develop and direct education and training in green collar vocations to people with barriers to employment.

Please comment below or contact Brian directly at to share your thoughts and ideas.


Social Purchasing Works

At least Saul Brown seems to think so. Saul and his company are members of our Green Inner-city Cluster and have helped us on SOLEfood and the Sustainability 2.0 Expo among many projects. His company provides sustainable and socially responsible corporate gifts and operates out of a green building in Strathcona.

Building Opportunities with Business maintains an online directory of inner-city businesses with particular emphasis on those that are sustainable and socially responsible. Many large organizations such as Business Objects and SFU use it to buy their catering, recycling, or cleaning services. Next time your business or organization needs to hire someone for a job, if you’d like to hire someone who is progressive and working towards improving Vancouver’s historic inner-city, check our online business directory first.

If you operate a business in Vancouver’s historic inner-city and wish to be included in the directory, you can register online. We’re making a few changes and additions to our website which will be finished soon according to our web developers.

SOLEfood garden raising a success

Over 50 volunteers and at times nearly as many media people descended on Hastings and Hawks in the DTES for the official garden raising of SOLEfood. We built twenty-four 12ft by 4ft garden boxes and numerous composting containers made of recycled shipping material. Also assembled was a small shed as well as the beginning of the general clean up of the sight which included fridges, wood, slate, metal, and other miscellaneous garbage.

Lots still needs to be done. SOLEfood was always intended to provide training and employment for inner-city residents. However it is a long way from being a functioning farm. We need to:

  • Finish building garden boxes
  • Line all garden boxes
  • Fill boxes with drainage rock and soil
  • Remove urban debris
  • Relocate and secure garden shed
  • General clean up and securing of site

All that work needs to be completed before we can begin planting and growing food on East Hastings. There is lots of good news such as a local chef wanting to buy our vegetables and a farmer in the valley willing to provide us with starter plants.

The garden raising received a lot of media coverage, including two BOB staff members making the front page of the Vancouver Sun. Here is a list of stories I collected:

We took some pictures and put them on Flickr. We might put a few on Facebook too.

Resilient Cities Roundup

The conference has ended, the booths have been taken down, the speakers are heading home. All that remains are the reflections, the calls to action, the manifestos.

Stephen Rees has written a lengthy piece on the GCAT recommendations released at the conference, particularly around public spaces and public transit.

Volunteer Corey Burger’s account of Day One, particularly the afternoon session we were both at around ethical purchasing. No mention of BOB, the SPP, or the CBA….

Moura Quayle has written an account of her participation in the conference and surrounding events. She also concentrates on the release of the GCAT report.

Guttersnipe has a roundup of the first day’s major speakers including the mayors of both Portland and Vancouver plus Paul Hawken and someone from one of Oregon’s most famous companies, Nike.

The conference also had an official blog on which includes a lot of the comments that were made on Twitter. had a couple posts including this summation of the keynote given by Paul Hawken, sustainability visionary, on day one.

Translink scored an interview with a speaker from New York’s Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Kahn.

One last account of Day One, by Kristina on Therapy for my Sustainable Soul.

That’s enough for now, more reflective pieces will undoubtedly emerge. Hopefully all the talk leads to some action, the Green Inner-city Cluster is committed to bringing urban agriculture to the inner-city of Vancouver and will soon put out an official call for support.

Vancouver Green Capital

That is apparently our new marketing slogan. When I say our, I mean the City of Vancouver in this case. In a speech to our buddies over at the Board of Trade, the Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson outlined his strategy to attract green industry investment to Vancouver and the surrounding municipalities and raise our international profile.

This all sounds great, but as someone who works for an organization doing economic development in Vancouver, I’d like to see a little more than speeches and whirl wind speaking tours.

Majora Carter meets Mayor Robertson

Majora Carter meets Mayor Robertson

The Mayor and Majora Carter will both be speaking at Resilient Cities and the number of shoulder events continues to grow I just registered for the Board of Change one. We’ll see if this conference and these speeches have any effect in changing Hastings and Main.

This story is getting national attention and I guess our focus on around 40 blocks of the city, kept me from posting it ASAP. I think ultimately there are only so many people who have been organizing a green industry cluster and proposing a green economic zone.

Frances Bula and her readership have been discussing this in detail, there are just only so many hours in the day.

Urban Strategies for Transition Times

That is the subtitle for the upcoming Resilient Cities conference.  Building Opportunities with Business is one of many official sponsors (we may yet have an official shoulder event, I will bring it up at the next Green Inner-city Cluster meeting, which is on September 9th, contact if you’re interested in learning more).  The conference continues to secure speakers and coordinate sessions and the organizers sent out the following message today which I’m passing on to our readership:

You could hardly attend a more timely conference than Gaining Ground/Resilient Cities.

What is driving this conference is the conviction of the organizers that cities have a unique and special leadership role in the sustainability agenda: to implement urban strategies for a green world and to spread knowledge city-to-city.

Yes, state/provincial governments and nations are also charged with these responsibilities, but the more abstract and political these concerns become, the more challenging it is to deliver effective policy or to leverage inter-jurisdictional agreements.

Cities and city-regions are where the rubber hits the road-literally and figuratively. Their scale is right and the culture of local interaction is direct and immediate. Collectively, cities are where most of us live, consume and produce.

Because of this immediacy, the conference hopes to play a meaningful role as a platform for Vancouver’s emergence as a green city. The timing is right, and the city is poised.

Some take the view that cities must become resilient to respond adaptively to imminent ecological changes and to energy and other imperatives. We’re not denying that need-and the conference will have much to say about these matters. But in using the word “resilient,’ the conference title implies something else, too: that cities as social and economic units are nimble; can hold meaningful local conversations; can work with constituent interests in productive collaborations; and can do this quickly.

In Vancouver, this is being expressed in part through a plan for a green economy. We believe that this is an intuitive approach, as opportunity will drive more things faster than paralyzing worry or issues that divide interests and force people to take sides.

We hope that this is a conference that will make-or more accurately help you to make-history. Vancouver needs the green economy and a deep sustainability plan for its own sake, but North American cities need an urban exemplar. We will never know the extent of Vancouver’s recent influence on other cities in Canada, the US and elsewhere, but “Vancouverism”-the city’s branded urban planning and design miracle-has powerfully influenced politicians, planners, architects, developers, writers, and advocates from other cities. And in the process, Vancouver has developed a critical piece often missing in other places: a culture of trust, self-confidence about its innovation skills, and belief in its ability to deliver change.

Resilient Cities heralds all of this and hopes to be a milestone in sustainable city progress. We look forward to seeing you there.

Gene Miller
Center for Urban Innovation

Hope to see some of you there, stop by the Building Opportunities with Business booth and say “hi”.

« Older entries