COmmunity Benefits Network (CBN)

The Community Benefits Network (CBN) is a diverse group of people and organizations committed to ensuring that the Downtown Eastside marginalized community and residents derive benefits from the City of Vancouver’s Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs).
The CBN’s goals are to:
  • Ensure social enterprises in the Downtown Eastside have increasing access to contracts as a result of CBAs.
  • Influence positive adaptations to the CBA policy and ensure accountability to its intended outcomes.  
What is a Community Benefits Agreement?
The City of Vancouver passed the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in 2018 and requires new developments over 45,000 square metres to meet the following requirements (across the development lifecycle, including build and operations phases):
  • Hiring from equity-seeking groups, starting with local (10% of hiring)
  • Local procurement (10% of procurement spend) 
  • Social procurement (10% of procurement spend)
Each development is required to hire an Independent Third Party Monitor. The CBN played an important role in developing the CBA for the City of Vancouver. The first new development to trigger a CBA was the New St. Paul’s Hospital, with many others quickly following. 

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The Social Procurement Roundtable convenes social enterprises, social purchasers, businesses, non-profit institutions, anchor institutions, social value suppliers and intermediaries to build connections, learn about opportunities and share best practices. Participants of the Roundtable collaborate to shape the social value marketplace and increase awareness of the impact of social procurement.

  •  What is social procurement?
    Every purchase has a social, economic, cultural, and environmental impact. Social procurement is about using your existing purchasing to capture those impacts to achieve overarching institutional, governmental, or individual goals that helps shape inclusive, vibrant and healthy and more equitable communities. See Buy Social Canada for more information. 
  • The Social Procurement Roundtable is co-convened by Exchange Inner City and Buy Social Canada. 

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EIC’s peer led engagement project is intended to create foundational relationships between Exchange Inner City and DTES community residents. The goal of this project is to build community and peer engagement opportunities as well as lay the groundwork for future engagements, while also discovering and learning about varying topics and issues that are relevant to people living in the DTES. 

EIC Peer Engagement team at 'Fair in the Square' (Victory Square, Vancouver)
Dianne C. and Thomas G. engage with DTES community as part of the Fair in the Square festival at Victory Square
EIC Peer Engagement Team w/ RayCam staff & members
L – R, John Z., Ava K, Dale. B, Dianne C., Gordon B., and Elika Y., at RayCam Community Centre during a collaborative event focused on De-stigmatizing the DTES.


The Ambassador program’s was designed to engage the DTES residents in democratic participation. Supported by the City of Vancouver, the City’s goal was to create more equitable and broader democratic engagement. The project focused on the 2022 Vancouver municipal election.

The best way to engage residents in democratic participation is to connect the election with issues of most importance to the community itself. Creating space for residents to connect the issues they care about with the election process also elevates their voices in electing the people they think represent their views. Ideally, this program will help empower individuals to see their power and rights as citizens of Vancouver.

UPDATE: Voter turnout in the DTES increased from 17% in 2018 to 21% in 2022.

Municipal Election Ambassadors
L – R, Adam, A.J., and Alexis helping to support our Municipal Election Outreach project.
Election Ambassadors out front of Carnegie Community Centre
L – R, Dwayne, Kim and Nick canvassing for our Get Out The Vote campaign in the 2022 municipal elections.

Jaella R. and Dave L, two of our Municipal Elections Ambassadors, at our 2022 civic election booth at Oppenheimer Park.


Activate DTES aims to build economic equity and resilience in the DTES by decreasing vacant spaces and supporting the leasehold tenure of locally-owned, community-serving small and medium enterprises (SMEs) including social enterprises (SEs), non-profit organizations (NPOs), cultural and heritage or legacy businesses, and community serving for-profit businesses with a focus on those owned by equity-deserving individuals. 

Activate DTES is funded through the City of Vancouver’s Special Enterprise Program (SEP) and is a partnership between EIC, Community Impact Real Estate Society (CIRES) and HESSEY Consulting + Architecture. For more information, or if you are an organization looking for a new space, contact Michelle,

Community Benefits Network - Image is located at 450 E. Hastings - Credit: Gabriel Martins
Community Benefits Network - Image is located at 450 E. Hastings - Credit: Gabriel Martins

Transformation of a vacant space on East Hastings into Powell Street Getaway, supported through Activate DTES.