Who We Are

Vision

An inclusive Downtown Eastside community where all residents can thrive and live full, rewarding lives as defined by them.

Mission

To collectively foster the conditions for a vibrant, inclusive and equitable local economy in the Downtown Eastside while influencing systemic change.

What We Do

Image c/o: Haisla Collins
  • Strengthen the Livelihoods ContinuumEIC works with non-profit organizations, social enterprises, businesses, government, allies and residents, to build a sustainable low-barrier employment ecosystem in the DTES.
  • Awareness & Advocacy: EIC is creating a diverse constituency that understands and advocates for community economic development and that specifically benefits DTES residents with barriers to employment.
  • Collaboration in the Downtown Eastside: EIC fosters relationships and brings together people across networks and organizations to strengthen collaboration, communication, knowledge sharing and effective action. 

Staff

Michelle Lackie
Executive Director

Michelle brings a wealth of experience in social change work. She focuses on influencing organizations, teams and individuals to be self-reflective, creating more inclusive systems, and ultimately an open and accessible environment where all can thrive.

She has held senior positions in non-profit organizations successfully leading departments through organizational change, managing complex budgets and developing strategic outcomes to meet organizational missions.In addition to high-level strategic efforts, Michelle was also involved in writing grant proposals and reporting, project visioning and implementation, communications and recruitment.

Michelle’s foundational philosophy is grounded in building trusting and supportive relationships based on accountability. Her expertise comes from years of managing diverse personnel to achieve success in their areas of responsibility and personal growth.

Michelle has an MBA in non-profit management from the Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University, a bachelor of education from McGill University and a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University.

John Zador
Community Engagement Coordinator

John is our Community Engagement & Communications Coordinator at Exchange Inner City. Over the past decade, John has volunteered and worked in the social services sector at various non-profit societies in and around Vancouver and the DTES. Examples of community engagement that John has involved himself range from creating the YOUth Got Skills Hip Hop program at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, to working at the YMCA in their Youth Employment Services programs as a Facilitator/Job Developer, as Manager of the Student Services department at Arts Umbrella, and as a volunteer facilitator at Employ to Empower in their Business Skills Building program.

John studied Broadcast Journalism at the Columbia Academy School of Broadcasting, and eventually combined his journalism expertise with his professional passion in community development as a contributing reporter to The Pulse on CFRO Coop Radio 100.5FM, where he platformed marginalized voices and highlighted genuine stories of the Downtown Eastside. John is a continual learner and has completed courses in Harm Reduction training, Mental Health First-Aid, Decolonizing Journalism & Trauma-Informed Reporting, Leadership Training for Managers (Dale Carnegie), and Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Management Fundamentals at BCIT.

John's focus at EIC is to establish trusting and collaborative relationships with residents, peers and organizations within the DTES, and to deliver EIC's communications and organizational updates to the wider community.

Board of Directors

Sean Miles

EIC Chair
Director, Binners' Project

Elizabeth Ballantyne

EIC Secretary
DTES Neighbourhood House board member

Chris Neale-Clark

EIC Director
Community Resident

Matt Smedley

EIC Director
CEO, Mission Possible

Kiri Bird

Volunteer and Community Advocate

Sean Condon

EIC Treasurer
Director, Social & Economic Innovation, Vancity Community Foundation

Leslie Shieh

Volunteer, Chinatown Housing Working Group

Resident Advisory Council

The Resident Advisory Council’s purpose is to be an integral voice within the collaborative process of determining the goals, strategies and outcomes of Exchange Inner City. The RAC is designed to be reflective and inclusive of the diversity within the Downtown Eastside community and increase skill-development and Community Economic Development (CED) knowledge of its council members, ultimately hoping they continue using their voices in other arenas that impact them.

EIC's Resident Advisory Board

Leadership Team

The Resident Advisory Council is led by a three person leadership team. These leaders are also residents of the DTES and have lived experience and skills that are relatable to the members in our council, which aides in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all. Launched in 2023, the inaugural leadership team has worked to shape the council itself, and meets regularly to strategize council agendas. The leadership team also facilitate council meetings and work together to reach identified goals and action items for the council.     

The Resident Advisory Council Leadership Team (L-R) Gilles C., Jaella R., and Adam J.

EIC Members & Community Partners

EIC Members and Community partners are integral to the success of Exchange Inner City’s work to create a more inclusive, vibrant and equitable economy in the DTES. 

To see a complete list of members and partners of Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association, click here.

To become a member of the association, or community partner, read our eligibility criteria below.

EIC Membership Eligibility

An organization or individual is eligible for membership in Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Social enterprise in the DTES

  • Organization that provides low-barrier employment in the DTES

  • Organization that provides peer employment in the DTES

  • Organization that provides training and skills development in the DTES

  • Active advocate for community economic development in the DTES

Community Partner Eligibility

An organization or individual is eligible for Community Partner status in Exchange Inner City if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Business network connected to the Downtown Eastside

  • City Staff or Council member

  • Social service agency/housing provider in the DTES

  • Non-profit organization in the DTES

  • Vancouver-based social enterprise or community economic development organization

  • Community centre in the DTES

  • Business/institution supporting community economic development and/or social procurement

  • Foundation, donor, funder supporting community economic development and/or social procurement

To find out how to become a member or community partner, contact John Zador at: john@exchangeced.com 

The History of Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association

Introduction

Exchange Inner City is an organization that grew out of the City of Vancouver’s Community Economic Development (CED) Strategy planning process. In 2016, over 35 community organizations came together to co-create the CED Strategy with the City. This group, called CEDSAC, rebranded as Exchange Inner City, and today is incorporated in the BC Societies Act as Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association (EIC).

CEDSAC

The last Economic Revitalization Strategy for the Downtown Eastside (DTES) had been created in 2004, as part of the Vancouver Agreement. While legacies of that strategy lived on, no formally organized collective effort between the City, other levels of government, and DTES communities to improve the economic conditions of the DTES had existed since 2010. In response, upon approving the DTES Local Area Plan in March 2014, Vancouver City Council made an amendment mandating the creation of the Community Economic Development Strategy:

“Further planning work needs to be prioritized for the following areas:

Local Economy: properly coordinate and resource the implementation strategies such that a coherent community economic strategy is created for the DTES that recognizes Hastings Street as the local shopping street to reconnect the neighbourhoods and their economic hubs, and recognizes the need to plan appropriately for the preservation of industrial lands.”

This led to the City’s creation of CEDSAC – Community Economic Development Strategic Action Committee. CEDSAC acted as the structure to support the process of creating the CED Strategy to address issues of poverty, income inequality and the health of local serving businesses. The CED Strategy was subsequently adopted in 2016.

Funding for the initial stages of CEDSAC was provided through several avenues, including: City of Vancouver (Great Beginnings), Simon Fraser University Community Economic Development Program, EcoTrust Canada/LEDLab, Buy Social Canada, and Vancity Community Foundation acting as the administrative backbone. 

Exchange Inner City

CEDSAC continued as an emergent community organization and in January 2017, the first Executive Committee was founded. Two of the founding members, Elizabeth Ballantyne and Wilson Liang, remained on the Executive for 6 years (and counting) and 5 years, respectively. Within ten months, CEDSAC hired an interim director and rebranded as Exchange Inner City. It operated in a highly participatory manner, with strong inclusivity of residents and a wide range of organizations and sectors involved. EIC led community engagement as part of the CED Strategy and implementation process, developed strong community partnerships and programs, and helped to advance the City’s work on poverty reduction, affordability, equity and other key areas of concern. Along with community organizational and individual engagement, the City was the lead implementer in actions related to policy, such as the Community Benefit Agreement and activated under-utilized municipal assets for social innovation and programming (e.g., low barrier employment hub Eastside Works).

Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association

EIC successfully supported quick start actions from the CED Strategy leading to the majority of the actions being implemented and bringing with it a shift in EIC’s organizational focus. EIC was positioned to be a backbone organization supporting CED in the DTES, shifting from City-sponsored advisory board to an independent community-based CED organization. Moving from policy co-creation to implementation, advancement and accountability to CED goals; and from a focus on individual residents to focus on organizations with CED-related missions. In May 2022, EIC formally incorporated as a non-profit society within the BC Societies Act – Exchange Inner City Community Economic Development Association. The Executive Committee became the founding Board of Directors, and the first Annual General Meeting was held in April 2023, including nomination and approval of a slate of eight directors.

Today…2023

Today, EIC continues to build upon the foundation that CEDSAC began. Its focus remains community economic development and the organization is pursuing three strategic priorities.

1. Strengthening the Livelihoods Continuum

2. CED Advocacy and Awareness

3. DTES Collaboration

Read more about EIC’s strategic areas here.