Building Opportunities with Business

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BOB's Logo, created by Vancouver-based Karo in 2006

Building Opportunities with Business Inner-City Society (AKA Building Opportunities with Business or BOB) is a non-profit organization that has been active in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Chinatown, Strathcona, Mt Pleasant, Gastown and Downtown South areas since October 2005. BOB's goal according to its website is "to support local business development and increase job opportunities for inner-city residents by championing an inclusive revitalization process".[1]

Creating BOB[edit]

Vancouver's inner city. The dark grey areas are where BOB's efforts are focused as per the Vancouver Agreement.

The creation of BOB came as a direct result of the Vancouver Agreement[2] an urban development initiative between the governments of Canada, British Columbia, and the City of Vancouver. BOB's role as defined by the agreement is to promote business development, offer mentoring and employment training as well as administering a loans program to inner-city small businesses.[3] In the time since its creation the organization has developed from being seen largely as an employment agency into being recognized as a credible and reliable source for a variety of information on the DTES. Separating itself from the legacy or failures of PEACH, the economic development and job creation organization that BOB was created to replace and distinguishing itself as a separate and unique entity has been a challenge to the organization. While some of the people and resources from PEACH were transferred to BOB the organization was created as a comprehensive new service to address the needs of business and employment. Fast Track to Employment (FTE)another organization active in the DTES has remained its own agency working in tandem with BOB. With a mandate to create employment opportunities by working with employers and residents FTE operates within the BOB offices as an affiliated or sister charitable organization sharing the same board of directors as BOB.

BOB as an organization has made efforts in the media to clarify its role in the DTES while addressing a diverse range of policy and planning issues relevant to Vancouver's inner-city such as STIR (Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing)[4] homelessnes and economic development[5] and industry clustering[6] Though becoming more widely recognized in 2008 and 2009 the organization has struggled to overcome obscurity concerning its past and present work.

Directly related to its support of clustering in Vancouver's inner-city, BOB has also been noted for its co-working space[7][8] made available for bloggers, independent media/social media, as well as independent contractors and consultants working in Vancouver's DTES.(Downtown Eastside) The BOB co-working space is also utilized as an art gallery and presentation space and is an official host gallery of the 2010 Winter Olympics' Cultural Olympiad.[9] The organization has also been noted for placing focus on social enterprise in the inner-city and was instrumental in the support and creation of the SOLEFood Inner City Farm Project along with Seann Dory of United We Can, and local property owners Gudy and Pal Sahota.[10][11][12]

BOB and the Millennium CBA (Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village)[edit]

BOB was involved in the creation of Vancouver's first Community Benefits Agreement centred on the construction of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village.[13] While this development has been criticized for going over-budget[14] the CBA may potentially serve as a valuable example of the emerging potential between investors, developers and social enterprise in urban planning. The CBA was a collective effort between the City of Vancouver, BOB, VANOC and Millennium Development Corporation focusing on job creation for local residents and encouraging direct procurement of goods and services from the Downtown Eastside as per the needs of the Olympic Village development.[13] Other major partners included Bell, VanCity Credit Union, the Province of British Columbia and the Federal Government (as represented through the Vancouver agreement)as well as the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation and the Vancouver Regional Construction Association.

Criticism of BOB[edit]

BOB has been the recipient of criticism from both activists who view the organization as a potential agent of gentrification and from other individuals active in the DTES. The organization has made efforts to clarify its role in the DTES in response to these criticisms.[15] PEACH (Partners for Economic and Community Health) having been proven largely ineffective in its approach was dismantled and its funding halted. BOB, though supporting a different development model and with different roles has also been viewed by some in Vancouver's DTES as not serving its primary purpose or being effective enough in job creation.[16] Kim Kerr, executive director for the Downtown Eastside Residents Association and Vancouver employment councilor Ruth Meta are examples of vocal critics.[15][16] Meta and BOB CEO Shirley Chan both commented on BOB's role and work in the DTES through a series of articles in the Vancouver Courier in 2009[15][17] It is rumored that Meta reconciled with BOB after this exchange.


  1. ^ "BOB | Building Opportunities with Business". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  2. ^ "TheAgreement". Archived from the original on 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ "EconomicDevelopment". Archived from the original on 2005-11-25. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  4. ^ Stir is a step in the right direction, Shirley Chan, Vancouver Sun, 2009
  5. ^ Stephanie Levitz, Hope and despair in Vancouver's Eastside, The Canadian Press, CTV, Monday December 28, 2009
  6. ^ Clustering in Action, Robert Matas, Globe and Mail, December 18, 2009
  7. ^ Shaw, Gillian (2009-12-18). "Vancouver's Downtown Eastside gets innovative coworking space - Digital Life". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  8. ^ Shaw, Gillian (2009-12-21). "New shared workspace opens in Vancouver's inner city". Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  9. ^ "Trimpin: Sheng High - Event Listings : Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  10. ^ "Kelowna News, Weather, Business, Sports, Entertainment, Classifieds, Real Estate & More |". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  11. ^ Christabel Shaler (2009-11-01). "SOLEfood Inner City Farm: A Source of Food and Jobs for Vancouver's Dowtown Eastside | The Vancouver Observer - News, Culture, Sports, Blogs in Vancouver, BC". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  12. ^ "Sitemap - Vancouver Courier". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Olympic village $130 million over budget: audit, Miro Cernetig,Vancouver Sun, October 6, 2009
  15. ^ a b c "Sitemap - Vancouver Courier". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  16. ^ a b "Sitemap - Vancouver Courier". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  17. ^ "Sitemap - Vancouver Courier". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 

Community Benefits Agreement [external links] [1]