Vancouver BIA Partnership Summit
by Toby Barazzuol on Friday Sep 13, 2013



Last night Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the BIA Partnership Summit with #Vancouver  city councillors and senior city staff. I spoke on behalf of the city's small businesses and 22 Business Improvement Associations and here is what I said in my 2 minute presentation: 

Mayor Robertson, thank you for putting forward a motion in June that was unanimously approved by Council to direct the  Vancouver Economic Commission to work with all the BIAs to recommend immediate and long term actions to support the retention and growth of locally owned small businesses.  For our elected leaders to acknowledge this and direct the Vancouver Economic Commission to work with us on this is indeed commendable.

As a small business owner for 15 years at  ECLIPSE AWARDS I can attest that the challenges facing small businesses are too numerous to list here and always changing, but suffice it to say that all efforts taken by the City to improve the business environment in Vancouver are both welcomed, encouraged and appreciated!

As you deliberate on the recommendations put forward by the Vancouver Economic Commission in the months ahead, remember that small business is the backbone of the local economy, employing thousands of residents in the 22 distinct neighbourhood districts that make Vancouver special. In fact, 76% of all businesses in Vancouver have fewer than 10 employees.

Going forward, we encourage you to look at our local economy as an ecosystem. In nature, the most productive ecosystems are always the most diverse and varied. Indeed, proposed larger scale projects like Oakridge Mall, Park Royal and Guildford can actually throw things out of balance, threatening the survival of smaller independent businesses and eroding the very fabric of our streetscapes and communities.

As well, in recent years Vancouver’s Industrial Areas have not been given the importance they deserve.  They are home to many family-based businesses that have historically served the needs of the city for many years while also providing good jobs for Vancouver citizens. And if we want things to be made locally in the Greenest City, we need to protect and nurture our industrial lands in the same way we do our agricultural lands. So we ask that City Council reiterate the importance of our industrial areas, protect them, and undertake a strategic vision/planning exercise as well as a zoning analysis in consultation with the BIAs.

Lastly, we ask you to think of #sustainability  not an industry like cleantech or solar power, but instead as a philosophy - a certain way of thinking about business that all businesses can learn and apply to make themselves more competitive, more resilient and more productive. By looking at sustainability as an approach to business, not as an industry, we can engage a full spectrum of small businesses and truly energize our local economy on our way to becoming the world’s #GreenestCity. Thank you.

Much appreciation to councillors Heather Deal,  Andrea Reimer,  Geoff Meggs, Adrian Carr, Elizabeth Ball, Tony Tang,  George Affleck, and Chief Constable Jim Chu for attending!



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