Space Race

As the city’s first big-city sized towers begin to throw shadows across downtown Edmonton, ‘For Lease’ signs hang prominently in shop windows on 104 Street, on Jasper Avenue on 99 Street and within City Centre Mall. To an untrained eye, on some streets at least, it can appear that more spaces are empty than occupied. But is downtown’s retail scene actually struggling? Or is it, as some experts say, in a “holding pattern” as we wait for buildings and an expected increase in people coming to fill them?

First, let’s reflect on the changes to retail and business space in downtown and Oliver. When it comes to retail, several new developments have joined the market in the last couple of years, such as the Kelly Ramsey tower and the Brewery District. The big-box Brewery development alone brought 20,000 square-feet of retail space to Oliver in 2016, vacuuming up blue-chip tenants like TD Canada Trust from street-side retail spots on Jasper Avenue. Meanwhile, the Ice District will add a staggering 300,000-square-feet of fresh retail space when it comes online in January 2019 (for comparison, City Centre Mall, across the street, already with several empty retail bays, already offers more than 725,000 square feet). All the while, numerous new retail bays in the podium of the Fox Two tower and Kelly Ramsey are still up for lease. A few are taken, but definitely not all.

The story for office space is similar. With 18-million square-feet of total space downtown and a 16 percent vacancy rate, Edmonton now has almost 2.9-million square feet sitting empty and waiting for business tenants. That’s likely to mushroom when the Stantec Tower in the Ice District opens its doors and offers more than 20 floors to office tenants. Indeed, commercial real-estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield estimates Edmonton’s office vacancy will hit 18 per cent by the end of 2018. For comparison, Edmonton’s office-vacancy rate is less than recession-struck Calgary’s, at 27 percent, but significantly higher than Toronto’s (four percent) or Vancouver’s (six percent).

Developments have appeared just as Alberta’s economy left for a vacation in the south. And space needs for offices are also shrinking as the years tick by. In 2017, for example, North American offices average 151-square-feet per employee, down from 225-square-feet in 2010, according to real estate data provider CoreNet Global. Meanwhile, online shopping and changes in consumer spending patterns are disrupting old-school retail.

But experts say, despite appearances, all is fine. And they point to what they say are two very different markets for retail and office space, which, they add, are in two very different states right now, as well as the future demand these new developments will incentivize.

Are they right?

Jamie Topham, a partner with Cushman & Wakefield, estimates downtown Edmonton currently has a 5.5 percent vacancy rate for retail space. That’s nearly two points higher than the city average, at about 3.8 percent, but Topham says downtown retail is not in trouble. “If there’s an exodus [from retail in the core], I sure haven’t seen it,” he says. Instead, Topham says, the core is in “a holding pattern” that isn’t permanent. “Downtown is going to be really shaped and reformed after the Ice District gets fully up and going,” he says. “You’re going to see more demand from specialty leases from local businesses after the Ice District, when it’s established and bringing annual traffic counts. I think it’s going to get stronger and healthier as the arena district comes to shape, and other developers and landlords around the arena district amend their plans, once they fully understand the traffc this new development is bringing.” Optimism aside, it’s still unclear who will fill the 300,000-square-feet in the retail portion of the Ice District. So far, Ice District has confirmed a Cineplex UltraAVX and VIP Cinemas as anchor tenants, along with a JW Marriott hotel, a food court in the Stantec Tower, a Rexall drugstore and the already-opened casino beside Rogers Place — as well as an as-yet-unnamed grocery store and fitness centre.

The situation at street level is mirrored above in the offices. Vacancy rates there have more than doubled over the past two years but many suggest that’s due to new supply and businesses closing, rather than tenants vacating for other locations. Karnie Vertz, a principal with Avison Young’s office leasing and sales team,
says it’s nonetheless a good time to be an office tenant. “We’re not seeing any significant growth [in demand] in the downtown market,” he says, “though I think you are seeing some professional companies and some growth in the IT sectors [and] artificial intelligence.”

And just as with retail, the first glances that suggest struggles may be wrong, according to experts. Indeed, some say downtown’s high vacancy rates might actually be good news, as the vacancies and new investment mean there’s an opportunity for employers who may have never considered the area previously to come downtown.

Jimmy Shewchuk is one of them. Shewchuk is a business development manager with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and says many new people are starting to “dip their toes” into downtown. As he says, the usual counter arguments – it’s too expensive, there’s no parking – don’t really hold up anymore. “You really see people’s eyes light up when you talk to them about talent retention and being downtown, and how much easier it is. If that’s the talent you’re looking for – young, energetic, smart talent – it’s much easier downtown as opposed to if you’re somewhere else.” Employees increasingly don’t want to work in an industrial park where it’s a 10-minute drive just to get a mediocre sandwich at lunch, he says.

The biggest shift is in car-commuting. “Really the biggest ‘Ah-ha’ moment that we have all the time is talking to [businesses] about parking,” Shewchuk says. He recalls a recent EEDC client who thought they needed well more than 30 parking stalls, based on a survey carried out several years earlier. But when they conducted the survey again recently, the number was actually 11. “It’s that point of clarity, of ‘Oh wait, our talent isn’t driving to work anymore — they’re taking public transit, they’re biking here, they’re walking to work because they live downtown now, so we don’t need that [parking] quite as much.’”

There have been some recent good-news stories to bolster the concreteness of this narrative, too. Chief among them is BioWare, Edmonton’s superstar videogame development company, which announced in November that it will relocate its more than 800 employees from its current south-side location on Calgary Trail to three floors of the Epcor Tower in late 2018 or early 2019, and occupy some 75,000 square feet of space. “We’re thrilled to be moving into a modern, state-of-the art facility and live in a space that empowers and inspires us to do our best work every day,” said BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson, in a news release.

Just a couple of weeks after this announcement, DynaLife announced it had signed a new lease for its current downtown location, in Manulife 2, which will keep its 700 health-lab workers in the core until 2022. Downtown champions celebrated this as welcome news. Still, shortly afterwards, the news was followed by an announcement that the provincial government is funding a new “superlab” location, at the University of Alberta’s south campus, meaning those DynaLife employees will relocate out of downtown in four years.

Another wrinkle complicating a clear answer on the state of things downtown is that 2018 should also see an increase in smaller businesses popping up — if even only for a few days, weeks or months at a time. That’s thanks to the city’s recent decision to join This Open Space, which EEDC recommended. The platform follows an Airbnb model, where prospective tenants can search for space downtown to occupy for shorter periods of time. The hope is that This Open Space will allow businesses to enter the downtown market to test ideas and products without the usual three- or five-year lease commitments.

PERHAPS THE HARDEST SIDE OF THE DOWNTOWN real-estate story for many to understand is building ownership. Experts suggest the reason there are so many aging, dated office buildings downtown — and why many storefronts and retail spaces sit empty within them — could be that the owners aren’t Edmontonians. In fact, they aren’t even people, really: many downtown buildings are owned by large institutional investors, like investment fund trusts or REITs.

“The guy that owns the office tower isn’t the person that lives in a cul-de-sac down the street,” Shewchuk says. “They’re not local owners.” Instead, the buildings and what’s in them are line numbers on a portfolio, he says. “So, it becomes, ‘Is it performing or is it not?’ No one’s walking by and saying, ‘There’s a couple of paint chips, we really need to fix that.’”

IN THE PAST, THIS MATTERED LITTLE AS LARGER (and often multinational) property owners such as REITs rode out lows rather than downgrade their pricing or invest in upkeep that appeared unnecessary. “We’ve had the luxury of being lazy for a long time,” Shewchuk says. “There’s a lot of space that hasn’t been upgraded because it hasn’t had to. I don’t necessarily blame those property owners for not, because it was full, or close to full for a long time.”

But now that things aren’t full, and new supply is arriving, some see opportunity rather than trouble. The arrival of new, highly desirable office and retail spaces on the downtown market is forcing some established landlords to change this indifferent approach. Experts say there has been a new emphasis put on quality, with increased investment in older buildings, more creative lease deals to entice businesses to set up shop.

And there has even been full overhauls of a building’s purpose, such as office conversions that transform old office space into something else, usually residential. EEDC has set up a task force to study these scenarios, which have already started to happen: in May of last year, Calgary firm Strategic Group announced that they will be converting Harley Court, a 1970s-era office tower located on 111 Street and 100 Avenue, to a mix of one- and two-bedroom residential suites.

It will be years before the effects of the Ice District can be measured by anything other than speculation. The company itself is bullish, however, boasting of nearly 2,000 new residents to its own 25-acre development and of 13,000 within a 10-minute walk, along with 75,000 daily employees.

BUT UNTIL THE STREETS ARE CRAWLING WITH PEOPLE and Edmonton is attracting new business investment outside of building office buildings, tenants who decide to stake a claim in the new downtown are in many ways hedging their bets that it’s sustainable to operate here over the long term.

To Shewchuk, homegrown growth potential is key. We may have failed to lure Amazon here to build its second headquarters, but we did lure BioWare, as well as Jobber, Yardstick and others. “Edmonton is a city that has always been built on entrepreneurship,” he says. “Opening the doors and making downtown very accessible to those two-, three-person companies that, one day, become 300, 400 person companies, would be great for us. We’ve never been a city that has done well chasing the whale. We need to focus on what’s always worked for us, and that’s creating the environment for a city that’s been built on entrepreneurship.”

How To Act When You See Others Harassed

One day last summer, a woman racially harassed Tracy Hyatt (The Yards Contributing Editor) in downtown Edmonton. The woman, who Hyatt says was a total stranger, approached her and some of her friends who were standing near the Grandin LRT station. And then she called Hyatt a slur. Hyatt was the only African-Canadian person in the group, so it was clear the slur was lobbed at her. But nobody called the stranger on her actions.

“I was quite surprised that, following the Make Something Awkward campaign, not one person said anything,” Hyatt says. “There were at least 10 people in the vicinity that saw and heard this go down.” Since no one came to her defense, Hyatt stood up for herself and said something to her harasser, who she says then backed down.

Experts say there are right and wrong ways to deal with harassment. Doing nothing, though the easiest play, is never the best option.

Harassment is a singular word for a range of behaviours, from the obvious (a verbal slur or physical touch) to the subtle (a vaguely threatening note, consistent belittling from a colleague). It can follow you anywhere, from the sidewalk to the bus, to your workplace, and even home. And it can be defined as aggression, pressure or intimidation. Victims often feel like they can’t speak up or defend themselves. But just as there are different types of harassment, there are also different techniques to handle it.

Here’s a quick guide to what experts say are the best responses are to different types of harassment.

Verbal Harassment


If you witness someone being verbally harassed, direct intervention is just one of the actions you can take, says Mary Jane James, executive director of Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE). Saying something along the lines of, ‘Hey, that’s not cool. That’s not okay, please stop,’ can work, she says. Other techniques include engaging with the person being harassed to de-escalate the situation, or asking someone else to help you intervene. It’s also important to report the behaviour to a bus driver, security guard or other authority figure where the harassment is taking place. And it’s vital you document what you witnessed, James says, and check in with the victim. “After the fact, it can be helpful to simply ask the person if they are okay, if there is anything that you can do.”

Workplace Harassment


As the fallout of #MeToo illustrates, harassment often takes place among colleagues in a workplace environment. But people don’t always recognize negative behaviours like bullying, name-calling, belittling or intimidation, as harassment. It’s also something that can be challenging to speak up about, particularly if the behaviour is coming from someone in a senior position to the victim. In situations where someone is bullying a co-worker, having co-workers on your side can make a big difference. But both victims and bystanders often choose not to speak up for a number of reasons. “Self-preservation, not wanting to be seen as a troublemaker, fear of losing their job, fear of being ostracized by other employees, fear of losing friends, fear of not being considered for a promotion … the list is endless,” James says.

If you are the one being harassed, naming the behaviour is a good first step, James says. “Say what he’s done and be specific. Hold the person accountable for his actions,” she says. “Don’t make excuses. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Ask that the behaviour stop. One should also seriously consider filing of an internal complaint within their organization. Documenting the harassment is important.”

Physical Harassment


The harassment that’s easiest to recognize is physical harassment. If you or someone near you is in physical danger from a harasser who appears to be violent there are ways to handle the situation without escalating things. One simple step is to create distance between yourself and the harasser, says Randy King, owner of KPR Combat, a gym in Oliver that offers self-defense classes. “Don’t be there. If someone is harassing you and you can leave, then do that,” he says. There are also ways you can build self-confidence and physical skills to prepare for dealing with a potentially violent situation. KPR offers Self-Defense 101, a crash course for those with little to no martial-arts experience. The gym also has a more advanced course, which offers a look at the psychological aspects of self-defense, as well as more physical scenarios.

King says people who come to KPR for self-defense training sometimes share “very personal stories” about their experiences with violence. He believes self-defense training can give individuals the confidence they need to deal with harassment, even though they will hopefully never have to use the skills they have learned. “Self-defense training is a lot like a spare tire: You may never need it but if you need it and don’t have it, you are in trouble,” he says.

Sexual Harassment


Strangers, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, partners – basically anyone can sexually harass someone else. This makes sexual harassment one of the more pervasive types that both men and women face. The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton is a not-for-profit organization that provides trauma-informed services and support to victims of all genders over the age of three. In 2017, they received more than 3,500 calls to their 24-hour hotline, and they had about 1,000 new clients who access counselling services. Approximately 80 per cent of their clients are female.

Like workplace harassment, documentation is an important step to take if you are being sexually harassed or witness someone else experiencing it, James says. Whether you report the harassment to SACE or the police, having a paper trail can prove valuable if the problem persists. Having someone to talk to is also an essential part of accepting what happened and moving on from it.

Preventative Measures


Whether or not they have experienced harassment themselves, men play an important role in preventing it. That’s why SACE began offering an extensive program to several junior and senior high schools in areas that are more vulnerable and “at risk” about a year ago, James says. “Part of the program is teaching and mentoring these boys to be leaders, to be actively involved in the mentoring and education of their peers on issues of consent, healthy relationships.”

There are currently more than 100 boys involved in the program across the city, and James says she hopes SACE will receive the funding to continue the program in years to come.

Of course, men of all ages can contribute to a positive environment where no one feels harassed. Education often plays a role in diffusing situations where harassment can easily come into play, such as someone’s work environment – especially in male-dominated industries where women may feel more pressure not to speak up. In addition to other programming, SACE offers a comprehensive professional public education program on sexual harassment in the workplace, something many businesses in the city have participated in.

There isn’t a one-size fits all solution to dealing with harassment. That’s mainly because harassment can take place in many forms, in many different areas of someone’s life. The main thing to remember is to take action.

Preventing harassment means challenging the social and cultural attitudes that condone and facilitate it. Everyone has to take a stand, James says. “Calling people out on their behaviour is the first step to eliminating the pervasiveness of this issue.”

Snapshots from Fall Community Events

Community League Day on Saturday, September 16 saw neighbours gather in Kitchener park to socialize while enjoying lawn games and a community BBQ.

Held on the site of Alex Decoteau Park on September 9 to help celebrate Downtown’s first new park in 30 years.

Around the Core: Winter 2017

Get Holly, Get Jolly


It’s a Bohemian art-o-rama sale to stock up on Christmas gifts, and it’s the first time the gallery is hosting it. So come out and enjoy the wine, and cheese, music, fun people and deals. Harcourt House, 10441 123 Street. 12 noon – 11pm. Free.


Celebrate art while eating ginger snap cookies. This year’s theme is retro, with shiny copper and black décor and lounge-y music. Local super-star Elm Catering supplies the eats. SNAP, 10123 Jasper Avenue. Doors 8pm. Contact SNAP for prices.

Build Your City

DECEMBER 6 10 Years of Local Good Fundraiser

Back in 2007, a group called E-SAGE (Edmonton Socially-Conscious Alternative Green Entrepreneurs) got together to support local sustainability. They (thankfully) re-named to the Local Good and now host fun, thoughtful events throughout the year — like this fund- raiser. Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 Street. 5pm – 7pm. Free, but please RSVP in advance.

JANUARY 12 Design Studies Alumni Show

Celebrate the design achievements and brilliance of some of MacEwan’s graduates. A great way to learn and engage with better design in the city. Allard Hall, 1110 104 Avenue. 7pm. Free.

JANUARY 20 March on Edmonton

More than 4,000 gathered at last year’s rally in the wake of that orange guy being elected president in the U.S. This year, Edmonton again joins in solidarity with cities around the world. Alberta Legislature. 1pm. Free.

FEBRUARY 28 Art, Culture and Community Engagement

What’s the future of arts engagement in our community? Using Oliver’s newly-opened arts-first facility, a moderator will lead a discussion that will end in a call to artists to serve the community. Allard Hall, 1110 104 Avenue. 7pm. Free.

For The Drama Seeker

DECEMBER 17 Canada’s Women’s Olympic team vs. Team USA

It’s the final game in a six-game series against our favourite (or least favourite?) rivals. The series a key step in Canada’s team’s preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea. Rogers Place, 10214 104 Avenue. 5pm. Ticketmaster.

FEBRUARY 1 Theatre Lab Grand Opening

Oliver’s arts landscape takes a dramatic step forward with the opening of Theatre Lab. The first production: Love and Information. Allard Hall, 1110 104 Avenue. 7pm. Free.

Terror in the Streets?

ON SEPTEMBER 30, WHEN ABDULAHI SHARIF allegedly rammed a police officer with a car, then stabbed him, and then ran down four pedestrians on Jasper Avenue behind the wheel of a U-Haul, the entire city was left in shock. But did the attack, which police have described as terrorism, really terrorize our downtown? We caught up with a few businesses close to where the attack happened to find out.

No sensationalism at Matrix

Olaf Miede, general manager of the Matrix Hotel, said his focus after the attack has been to ensure staff and guests feel safe. But is there a lingering feeling of terror? No.

“From my side, calling it a terror attack [seems extreme]. There’s lots of stuff going on in the world, and sometimes we over-exaggerate it. We want to work with the police and take it seriously, but still, there’s nobody here that’s going ‘Oh my god, I can’t work at the Matrix anymore and I have PTSD.’ There’s no sensationalism here. I look at it more as, you had a police chase and sometimes we [overemphasize] the nationality of who’s involved and create something out of it that creates a lot of fear, and fear mongering.”

Community strengthened at Central Social Hall

Neil Wolsegger, operating partner of Central Social Hall, said the attack might have back-fired, as it has only strengthened Edmonton’s sense of community.

“After the night it actually happened, there wasn’t a ton of buzz about anything going on in regards to terror, in my opinion. From people I’ve talked to, staff and customers, I think the Edmonton community is just way too strong to let that kind of negativity creep in. Obviously it’s a terrible thing that happened, and the people that were affected by it directly, I couldn’t even imagine to walk one inch in their shoes today. But as a business operator in downtown Edmonton it really hasn’t affected us at all. I think people just kind of bonded together and refused to let that kind of stuff creep in.”

4 Best in the Core, circa 2022

What could be ‘Best of the Core’ winners in five years, and why? We talked with Edmonton starchitect Michael Zabinski to find out.

Michael Zabinski co-designed the new funicular and the Regenerating Rossdale proposal.

1. A Re-Imagined Best Buy

Having a Best Buy downtown is “pretty awesome,” Zabinski says. But the current, parking-focused design at 104 Avenue and 109 Street needs a rethink. To make it a 2022 Best-Of winner, Zabinksi recommends pushing the parking underground, putting small-scale retail on the ground floor to animate the street — including along the Railtown Park connection at back — and moving the Best Buy upstairs, just like you see in dense downtowns like Vancouver. Above it all? Residential units to serve MacEwan students and professionals.

2. Life in the Laneways

Zabinski thinks the laneways running between streets and behind buildings on 104 Street and Rice Howard Way have big potential. The laneways have historically been lanes for service vehicles, but today they’re also used as pedestrian-first shortcuts. Zabinski imagines small retail tucked into them, as well as lighting features, hidden art or other items of interest to give pedestrians reasons to stay in the lanes.

3. Digging Discovery

Zabinski says we need to look at downtown’s under-used spaces — underground. “The most interesting cities I’ve visited provide unique opportunities for discovery. Some of the greatest restaurants, bars and galleries are hidden from view, either tucked away in a forgotten basement or up on a secret rooftop.” Take the old Fanny’s Fabrics, underneath Dialog Architecture’s office on 104 Street: The mostly-vacant subterranean space has glass-enclosed bays that could be an underground marketplace or makerspace, he says.

4. Grandin Junction

In October 2017, Zabinski and others released a project proposal called the High Level Line. One of its most ambitious parts was called Grandin Junction.
The proposal: Connect the legislature grounds to Ezio Faraone Park “with a sweeping greenspace bridging above the traffic,” Zabinski says. “This expanded park would integrate into the existing LRT network, and bring pedestrians, cyclists, and streetcar users to a stunning vantage point overlooking the North Saskatchewan river valley, providing a wide range of uses through all seasons.”

Best in Class

THIS ISSUE OF THE YARDS celebrates what makes central Edmonton an outstanding place to live, work and play. But while we applaud what already makes our community great, the Oliver Community League (OCL) also works to create public and private development that will better serve our neighbourhood in the future.

Here are just a few of our successes.

In 2014, when city administration published its recommended capital budget projects for the following four years, Jasper Avenue was only scheduled to be repaved. The OCL immediately organized a team to explain to City Council the importance of consulting with Oliver residents to create a new design for Jasper Avenue. Council unanimously voted in favour of OCL’s recommended approach. In late 2015, the Imagine Jasper Avenue consultation initiative launched. And this summer, the city rolled out a first-of-its-kind, four-month installation on the avenue, piloting some of the proposed design features.

On the private side of things, our league continues to work to be nimble and agile negotiators, while maintaining our standards for process and good governance. While there are some land re-zonings in Oliver that are not best in class, there are nonetheless examples of developers improving design based on OCL recommendations. I’m happy to recommend these developers for working in partnership with our community.

For example, in 2016, Devonshire Properties proposed a site-specific re-zoning for a 14-storey tower on 118 Street, north of Jasper Avenue. The original design was typical of apartment buildings in Oliver — a single entrance on the main level and nothing else. The OCL Civics Committee asked the developer to consider adding townhouses on the main floor to improve street engagement, and also bolster housing choice in Oliver.

I was pleased with the developer’s reception of this feedback. Devonshire incorporated our requests into its design.

In the coming months, the OCL will draw on these experiences as we begin negotiations with Abbey Lane Homes and city administration over a proposal for the St. John’s School Site, south of Peace Garden Park. We will be pushing for maximum benefit to all residents of our neighbourhood.

When it comes to development, some communities have a reputation for opposing all of it. In Oliver, we do not do this. Instead, we have found it is more helpful to push for smart development that will better serve the community in the future rather than simply say no.

Lisa Brown
President, Oliver Community League

Conversion Immersion

It’s hard to believe this is our third anniversary of The Yards. Only three short years ago, The Yards was launched in partnership with the Downtown Edmonton and Oliver Community Leagues to serve as the voice of Edmonton’s core. In that short time we’ve had the pleasure of working with local editors, writers, illustrators and volunteers to bring you a hyper-local community newsmagazine to be proud of.

Since we started, we’ve seen the opening of Rogers Place, a pilot that looks at the future of Jasper Avenue and we have featured portraits of many talented community volunteers.

We’re proud to bring you this, our third edition of ‘Best of the Core’ – everything we know to be fantastic and fabulous about living in our communities.

Now we can ponder: What will the future bring?

It’s been 20 years since the first Capital City Downtown Plan (CCDP) was approved. There’s a measurable difference from then to now. Back then, only 5,300 people lived in the downtown core; now we’re looking upwards of 14,000. Can we get to the ‘magic’ 20,000 by 2020, as envisioned by the Downtown Vibrancy Task Force?

The CCDP imagines a sustainable downtown as one with a vibrant community of people living there, taking ownership for, and living in a walkable community along- side arts, culture, entertainment, business and retail services. Add to that recent amen- ities to make downtown more livable.

Previous Downtown Plans have enabled landowners to take older, vacant office buildings and convert them to residential buildings. In the early 2000s, a wave of office-to-residential conversions brought life to some buildings and reinvigorated our Downtown with people who live, work and shop in their community.

Recent vacancies mean we could see a second wave of conversions.

If these conversions move us towards our goal of a sustainable Downtown, the more the merrier. While new office building construction is wonderful to see, it’s also the addition of people Downtown that will ensure there is a thriving community. The Downtown Edmonton Community League will continue to serve them and The Yards Magazine will continue to be the voice of our neighbourhood.

Chris Buyze
President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

OCL Winter Events

Walking Pub Crawl

Meet with new and old friends at the hall every month before walking to pre-determined locations to enjoy Oliver nightlife. Meet in Oliver Park (between 104 Avenue and 103 Avenue, 118 and 119 streets) by the playground. No pub crawl in December.

Civics Committee

This fully engaged committee meets on the second Monday of the month to discuss developments in Oliver. Grace Lutheran Church. 9907 114 Street, enter by grey door on the east side.

Make Something Oliver Idea Incubator

Come help us dream up projects for our Oliver-building project.
6pm – 8pm, Brewsters, 11620 104 Avenue.


DECL Winter Events

FRIDAYS, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Urban Kids Playgroup

Our playgroup has returned on Fridays. Parents (and their tots, ages 0 to 5) can join us for coffee, snacks and a chance to get to know other families living downtown

Urban Kids Family Night

Our monthly family night returns for kids and parents. Join us for games, talent shows and more.

Wednesdays, 12:10 PM – 12:50 PM
DECL Noon-Hour Yoga

Free noon-hour yoga at DECL. Take a break to breathe and relax your mind with Irma and Jessica, and enjoy some ow and Hatha practices at lunch. All levels welcome and beginner friendly. Space is limited. Please register at

Christmas Mixer

Come celebrate the season with your downtown neighbours. Bring some baking to share. Light refreshments will be provided and there will be a cash bar. Donations of warm clothing and new socks will be used to decorate our tree and donated to Boyle Street Community Services.

DECL Book Club

Join us for the return of the DECL Book Club. We focus on urban themes both fiction and non-fiction.