I served on the Board of the Downtown Vancouver Association for a number of years and chaired what was then called the Arts and Culture Committee. The Downtown Vancouver Association largely served the interests of the members of the Board. Committees of the Board held meetings where members of the community and the City were invited to come to speak and listen but the positions of the Association and the positions and ideas proposed to City Council were decided by the Board of Directors.
During the time I was a member I created and operated a website for the organization, organized a number of events to engage community leaders in conversations around ideas and opportunities which could contribute to the positive development of the City, and launched the Vancouver Arts and Cultures Forum as a community wide initiative to involve the community and increase the contribution of ideas and initiatives that could contribute to making Vancouver known as a centre for the arts.
I could see the Downtown Vancouver Association evolving to become an enterprise of leaders representing and serving the different interests and contributions of the communities concerned about and affected by decisions related to the development of the downtown core – a gathering of bright minds and good thinkers selectively invited to consider ideas and initiatives which could contribute to influencing the direction of the development of the downtown core in our common interests.
I could see the Association expanding the membership to include community leaders and contributors who met a set of criteria, who agreed with the interests and outcomes established for the Association, and who were willing to pay a fee to participate with the opportunity to contribute electronically, as well as in person, in this community of common interest and common enterprise. The Board would take care of the administrative and governance issues between Annual General Meetings.
Members would be solicited for their opinion and input on issues and ideas, on positions and actions the Association might take on changes being considered, proposed, or taken by the City, and on ideas and opportunities the Association thought could contribute to our creative interests.
I thought the role and contribution of the Downtown Vancouver Association could be about exciting community interest in becoming more informed and involved in our community, in creating community, and in contributing to our community interests. It is a community leadership role, not a community management role. Who better to play a community leadership role than our community leaders?
The Association’s interests, defined as outcomes being pursued for our community, would be articulated to assist people in considering ideas and exploring oportunities. Everyone would have the opportunity to contribute their point of view, recommend improvements or better ideas, and offer new issues and ideas for exploration. I thought the name of the organization could become Think Vancouver, similar to the idea of Tourism Vancouver.
On November 8th, 2006, I launched Vancouver Community Forums in a celebration of 60 years of contribution of the Downtown Vancouver Association and resigned from the Board shortly after. The Downtown Vancouver Association continues to play a part and contribute a voice to the conversation about the future of downtown Vancouver and the part it plays in our Greater Vancouver Region.