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Idea #5454

Strathcona Community Micro-Gardens - Creating a Green Zone

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THIS IDEA IS A SEMI-FINALIST. See semi-finalists

About This Idea:


Medium ($25K - 100K)



Posted by: Strathcona BIA

Location: Vancouver, BC

Idea Created: September 27, 2010


Green jobs. Safer streets and local food. A healthier, more beautiful community for everyone to enjoy. Can one initiative move us toward all of these goals?

The Strathcona Neighbourhood, Vancouver’s oldest residential community, is characterized by beautiful heritage buildings and a rich artistic community, but also by homelessness, open drug use and dealing, prostitution, and graffiti. The neighbourhood is known physically for its abundance of barbed wire fences, cracked concrete, and unkempt strips of land. As an organization, our goal is to revitalize Strathcona by making it a safe and vibrant destination to live, work, do business and have fun, while promoting and respecting the unique characteristics of the area.

Our Idea We propose to create 20 to 30 community micro-gardens in high-traffic locations throughout Strathcona. These gardens would create green jobs for disadvantaged people in the area, help youth learn valuable work and life skills, strengthen community engagement and pride, create opportunities for local food production, beautify the area, and increase safety levels in the neighbourhood.

Benefits of this project

  • Edible plants would provide new opportunities for local food production. Using native plants would reduce the resources required for their maintenance thus minimizing the ecological footprint of each garden.
  • Community gardens bring people outside, get them talking and working together, and involve them in the community. This helps strengthen relationships and engagement within the neighbourhood, giving participants a sense of belonging and ownership.
  • This project would also reduce spaces available for criminal activity through the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). A public place that lacks significant ownership interest is often perceived as an area where criminal activity is supported. By converting underutilized spaces into gardens, the BIA would help reduce areas that encourage crime.
  • The most profound benefit of this project would be the generation of green jobs for individuals with job readiness barriers and inner city youth. Mission Possible, our partner in this program, hires and trains individuals who are overcoming poverty, addiction and homelessness, and helps them secure and maintain meaningful work. They would also be hiring and training youth to give them tangible work and life experience and skills.
  • There will also be opportunities for intergenerational interactions with Mission Possible’s employees and youth in a safe environment. Many of the landscapers will be able to teach the youth some of their consequences of their decisions in their lives in the hopes that the youth would not follow the same path.

How it would work Depending on the nature and size of each location, the gardeners and the property owners would decide whether the plot should be a community garden, single-owner garden, or a living wall. Vegetation would consist of native perennials and edible plants.

The gardens would be installed by qualified landscapers of Mission Possible Enterprises, a local non-profit which provides employment opportunities for individuals with job readiness barriers and assists in breaking the cycles of poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Local youth would also be employed as partners with the landscapers to learn valuable food production and community development skills.

An Inclusive Approach The Strathcona Community Micro-Gardens would provide an inclusive approach to addressing many of the problems affecting this community. We are counting on your support!

For more information on the Strathcona Green Zone, visit us at Twitter: @SBIA_GreenZone

About the Strathcona Business Improvement Association The Strathcona BIA (SBIA) is a member driven non-profit organization in Strathcona, a sub-community of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The SBIA represents over 850 commercial property owners, business tenants, and 7,000+ employees. The area is a broad mix of industrial, commercial, retail, and residential zoning – many who have been in the area for over 40 years.

The SBIA is working to reinvent Strathcona as Vancouver’s Green Zone - a model of mixed use and diversity that supports sustainable business, collaboration, and the arts. Programs include educational workshops, a community wide energy challenge, waste audits and a resource exchange whereby businesses can connect with other businesses to repurpose unneeded materials and divert them from the landfill.

In addition to retaining and attracting businesses, the SBIA also supports a variety of community events, sponsoring the Powell Street Festival, the largest Japanese Canadian festival in Canada; the Eastside Culture Crawl, a three day event drawing over 10,000 people to artists’ studios in east Vancouver; and children’s programming at the Strathcona Community Centre.

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