The Downtown Eastside is experiencing a broad range of challenges that impact the viability of small business and non-profit organizations.
These challenges include:
- Increased vacancy
- Permitting and regulations
- Quality of public space
- Access to local employment
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated these challenges and reinforced the need for coordinated action to support the local economy.
The Special Enterprise Program (SEP), approved by Council in January 2021, is a 5 year pilot that aims to preserve and strengthen the cultural diversity, long-term viability, and economic opportunity of heritage businesses, social enterprises, and non-profit organizations in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside.
The purpose of this program
- Attract and prevent the displacement of heritage and community-serving businesses, cultural organizations, non-profit organizations, and social enterprises in the Downtown Eastside.
- Enhance the capacity of the small business sector to adapt to the current business environment and improve operations.
- Assist property owners (non-profit or for-profit with a social purpose) in activating their vacant spaces with businesses or other activities that align with permitted uses, current policies, and respond to community needs.
Key program outcomes
- Reduced vacant storefronts
- Increased community-serving economic activity
- Secured affordable tenure to local community-serving organizations and businesses
- Increased life-safety of local building stock
- Preservation of cultural assets
- Retention and long-term sustainment of heritage businesses
- Increased access to employment for low-income residents
- Increased access to social and cultural places and spaces for low-income residents
Contact a planner
If you want to learn more about this program, send us an email: