The Economics Student Association (ESA) hosted the Livability in Vancouver Conference, Jan. 25 at the UBC Learning Exchange. Through a range of panels, the event promoted an understanding of the complex issues of poverty and economic development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) while fostering conversations around solutions to achieving livability.
Professor Dr. Nisha Malhotra, Vancouver School of Economics, gave an overview of the economics of poverty. To view her presentation notes, CLICK HERE.
The conference focused on the current Local Area Planning Process undertaken by the City of Vancouver. This plan will define the future zoning and composition of the neighbourhood. The varied perspectives presented by organizations currently involved in social programs helped attendees better see the challenges of the DTES as well as its assets, which are sometimes overlooked. Representatives of Mission Possible and the Carnegie Community Action Project emphasized the sense of community and lack of judgement appreciated by DTES residents, in addition to acknowledging their difficult circumstances.
“As an economics student, I especially appreciate that this conference helped me consider not only how new businesses change the local economy but also how they affect people living in an area,” said Saskia Vaisey, Bachelor of International Economics student. This balance was presented by members of the City of Vancouver, the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Society, and the Building Community Society.
Attendees also heard the stories of formerly homeless DTES residents. This session provoked a meaningful discussion. Hearing their experiences, as well as the input of other presenters, helped students in attendance to apply classroom studies to the real world results of economic policies.
“The Economics Students Association really wanted to create an opportunity where students can see how economics is applied to address social problems that exist locally. I think that we’ve successfully done that through our Livability in Vancouver conference,” said Viet Vu, ESA President.