Healthy City Strategy success stories

Our recent accomplishments

As a certified living wage employer, we are committed to paying direct employees and contracted services employees a living wage.

The living wage rate is calculated annually by the Living Wage for Families Campaign (LWFC)  and is based on regional cost of living.

Vancouver is the largest City in Canada to commit to a living wage.

Learn more about this initiative 


This project ensured vocational and income generating opportunities for women residents in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, as well as being a model for re-distributing and repurposing goods and materials that would be otherwise destines for the landfill.

As part of the project, the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre worked to engage other Women's organizations including, Battered Women's Support Services, Atira, and WISH in providing specific training for women. Pacific Association of First Nations Women provided connection to facilitators to assist in teaching vendors crafting skills to make items to sell at the market. The UBC Medicine Collective partnered with The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre to provide a series of workshops to vendors including Indigenous traditional salve making, tea harvesting and making, traditional oil making. These items were sold at the market.

The Women’s Summer Fair and Flee Market included over 130 participants, 43 of whom were vendors, and 90 women were either employed by the market, volunteered or took part skills development and employment training. Nearly 5000 hours of training were held with peer workers, vendors, volunteers, and skills-development participants.


The strategy aims to strengthen and support areas of activity such as 501 Powell Street, purchased by us in 2015. The site now provides a permanent space for the Downtown Eastside Street Market and will provide future social housing.

Council approved funding of $353,500 for 13 key initiatives and 22 actions that will lay a foundation for longer-term development and continued expansion of the strategy.

Learn more about the projects

Since 2015 just over 700 Vancouver Police Department staff and 600 City of Vancouver staff have taken part in Indigenous awareness training, as part of our efforts towards reconciliation.

The Vancouver Fire Department has also committed to developing the training in an online e-learn format in 2017. As part of this process we have created a video with the Alzheimer’s Society of BC called “Jim’s Story,” which illustrates the experience of a person who lives with dementia. 

Learn about our Age-Friendly Action Plan

This training has been provided to front-line and managerial staff from:

  • The Vancouver Public Library
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Property Use Inspections
  • Non-market Housing

The commitment to ongoing training helps to counter the stigma that increases the marginalization of sex workers and develop non-discriminatory and effective responses.

People at West End Sex Workers Memorial event  - photo by Peter Marriott

The training’s principles of inclusion, equity, and respect have laid the foundation of many of our initiatives, including the West End Sex Workers Memorial, a commemorative lamp post installed to honour the lives of sex workers who were adversely affected by municipal actions in the mid-1980s. We also publically acknowledged responsibility for the displacement of the West End sex workers that led to severe conditions of vulnerability, stigma, and harm.

People at Connections Forum - Understanding the past, Imagining the future

The forum brought together approximately 200 systems-builder (including local government, non-profit organizations, community groups, and funders) to share tangible tools, initiatives, research, and best practices to increase collective impact and enable greater positive change.

Workshops included:

  • Boosting social connections in multi-family housing
  • Creating neighbourhood empowerment networks to enhance community resilience
  • Accelerating inclusion of hard-to-reach populations
  • The role of art and culture in creating more engaged and connected communities
  • How to measure social connection

The event included an explicit focus on building a network of practitioners, and on initiating next steps and follow-up actions.

Thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health, United Way of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Foundation, and posAbilities for supporting this event.

Learn more about our goal: cultivating connections

The Vancouver Food Strategy was launched in 2013 and is a plan to create a just and sustainable food system for the city. It builds on years of food systems initiatives and grassroots community development, considering all aspects of the food system, from seed to table to compost heap and back again. 

One part of the strategy is providing food support for vulnerable elementary school children in the Vancouver School Board, to give all children a good start. Another initiative recognized by the Milan Pact was urban farming.

In March 2016, we changed bylaws and adopted a set of guidelines that assist in the development of safe, neighbourly, and productive urban farms. Increasing opportunity for food production for urban residents has positive social, economic, and environmental impacts and creates opportunities for neighbourhood focused farms.

There are now approximately 18 urban farming businesses and organizations operating on roughly 50-60 sites around the city, all reducing the “distance to fork.”

In 2017, we also committed to revising and broadening the food assets definition to include other types of assets such as those that are culturally- or economically-important. Including these diverse assets in our definition will better allow us to preserve them and to incorporate them into planning processes and new developments.

The conference:

  • Showcased Vancouver’s active transportation projects and policies to 1,000 active transportation and placemaking professionals from across North America and around the world.
  • Launched Vancouver’s first annual walking and cycling report card which highlights Vancouver’s improving active transportation mode share, recent infrastructure improvements, and the city’s changing attitudes toward walking and cycling

In 2015:

  • 27% of trips in the city were made by walking
  • 16% by transit
  • 7% by bicycle

People at West End block party

The first ever West End apartment block party connected residents and neighbours from two apartment buildings.The organizer said

“I received positive feedback during the event and not only from the two apartment buildings but other people who live in the west end that happened to be cycling or walking by. They too joined in for food and listened to music. The only complaint I received was asking why they hadn’t been invited!”

This pilot helped lay the foundation for supporting other apartment buildings to host their own block party and determine what is needed to receive a permit.

Block parties are bringing life to laneways too. Residents of a block along East Broadway livened up the laneway behind their properties with live music, lots of food, and plenty of play spaces for the local children and adults to connect. 

The free inaugural event provided opportunities for many local and emerging artists and also included live music and community projects. Planning is now underway for a 2017 event.

In 2016 our Cultural Services department distributed $12 million in grants to more than 300 arts and cultural groups, including the first 20 Creative Spark grants to emerging artists through the ArtsStarts group.

Renowned Vancouver mural artist Ola Volo said:

“Having a mural festival in Vancouver really highlights the importance of street art, and why it’s important to put artwork on the walls and make the city look like it belongs to us.”  

Organizer David Vertesi from the band Hey Ocean said:

“[we’re] trying to transform the way people connect with the city, with the space. I think in Vancouver we've always connected, traditionally, with the nature here, with the mountains, the water, the forests. But we're trying to push a connection with our urban spaces as well."

The Public Art Registry lets you find public artworks in Vancouver neighbourhoods and promotes cultural tourism and local pride by showcasing artists and artworks in Vancouver.

From immigrant service agencies such as MOSAIC, SUCCESS, and Immigrant Services Society of BC, to employer groups such as the Overwaitea Food Group and Telus, from Business Improvement Associations to universities and colleges, from the Vancouver School Board to the Vancouver Public Library, VIP’s project partners all brought unique perspectives from diverse community sectors in addressing the needs of immigrants. 

28 priority actions are focused in four areas:

  1. Enhancing access to services
  2. Strengthening intercultural and civic engagement
  3. Building welcoming and inclusive workplaces and government
  4. Public institutions addressing needs

Over the coming years VIP members will continue to work together to implement the priority actions outlined in the Strategy.