We support the communities that make up the Downtown Eastside in their efforts to build in their many strengths and to address the current issues of poverty, homelessness, addictive and mental illnesses and crime.
BCS is committed to working with and in service of marginalized communities, focusing on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. We see our role as a megaphone for those voices that often don't get heard. We believe in effective trust-based partnerships that can lead to community-based solutions. We hope to inspire and to develop those partnerships among local people, community organizations, and all levels of government.
Currently, BCS is zeroing in on the right to health and housing for those persistently underserved by both sectors. Homelessness has increased steadily since the mid-nineties when the National Housing Program ended. At the same time, there has been an increase in mental health challenges and complexities, especially for the homeless population. Housing is a major determinant of health and wellbeing and we believe that social housing with government supports is necessary to house the homeless now and in the future. Housing affordability will remain a major barrier to any form of "market-based" solution in a system where some individuals only have $375 per month to pay for rent. As citizens who believe we have some responsibility to notice and support the most vulnerable, and to work with everyone to find solutions. Our intention is to offer a voice for adequate and sufficient (different from efficient) housing and mental health supports.
Articles & documents
Profound suffering at the heart of our beautiful city seems to defy all attempts to relieve itDr. Bill MacEwan and Paul Sullivan | Vancouver Sun
Right to Health and HousingBuilding Community Society Action Plan
Housing Continuance / ContinuumBCS Strike Force Plan
Policing vs Health Management for Those at Risk in the Downtown EastsideBuilding Community Society
01. Board Members
Larry Beasley C.M.
Larry Beasley is recognized as an authority on urban development and urban issues. Larry was former Co-director of Planning with the city of Vancouver. He is recognized as having a participative and socially responsible approach to zoning, planning and design, which has become known internationally as the “Vancouver Model”.
Larry is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia in the School of Community and Regional Planning and lectures widely elsewhere. In 2004, Larry was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Ian Chang is a second generation Vancouver native. He has over thirty years experience in city planning work with Canada Mortgage and Housing, the City of Richmond and in private consulting. He is strongly committed to the goal of seeing the Downtown Eastside become a vibrant neighbourhood again and that the low income working and non-working residents benefit from the pending growth of the area.
Jacquie Forbes Roberts
Jacquie Forbes-Roberts is recently retired from her position as General Manger of Community Services for the City of Vancouver. She was responsible for wide range of planning, development, social and cultural services. She is a former Co-Director of Planning for the City and has served as Vancouver’s Heritage Planner. Jacquie has many years of experience working with the public and private sectors, non-profit agencies, and community groups in the delivery of policy, projects and services. She brings expertise in organizational change, policy development, strategic planning and conflict resolution.
As a leader practicing in the field of public and institutional work, Roger has focused his 40-year career on leveraging the power of design to contribute to a strong, healthy and socially diverse society. Roger is a current and past member of the Vancouver Urban Design Panel and the Shaughnessy Design Panel, and has been active as a Guest Critic at the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He was made a fellow of the RAIC for his contribution to design excellence in 1995 and recognized with an AIBC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Dr. Bill MacEwan
Dr. MacEwan is the former Head of Psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital and is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. Bill has done clinical work and research in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver for the last 21 years. This work was initially psychiatric outreach to the single room occupancy hotels and now also involves working at the Downtown Community Court (DCC)
Ethel was formerly the Director of the Carnegie Community Centre in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver for twelve years and Director of Homelessness Services at the City of Vancouver for four years. Previous to those positions she worked as a counselor therapist in the inner city. Ethel holds a masters degree in Social Work in Community Development and currently provides consultation services in the DTES. She is a published author working on a new novel.
Sanja Simic is the Executive Director at the Conconi Family Foundation. She comes from the world of finance and integrates elements of finance and philanthropy into a hybrid operating model.
Paul Sullivan was the western editor of The Globe and Mail, and managing editor of The Vancouver Sun; he also worked in television and radio before launching Breakthrough Communications to provide communications products and services. Breakthrough Communications works with a wide array of corporate and institutional clients across North America to create effective communications. Clients include non-profits, including a number from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Gerry Zipursky has over 40 years of committed strong leadership and expertise in organizational development and community work in the field of social, community and social enterprise services.. Gerry has overseen a wide variety of large projects including, major construction, international events, as well as video and film productions. Gerry has extensive board and committee involvement with a variety of municipal, national and international organizations. He is the recipient of a number of awards including the Canada 150 good citizen & 2019 British Columbia Good Neighbour Award.
02. Team Members
Sapna was the executive director of Imagine1day, a Canadian charity focused on education in Africa. Prior to this role, Sapna , a chartered accountant, worked with KPMG in Calgary, Brazil and Vancouver, with a focus on international tax. Sapna specializes in personal Canadian and US taxation services. She has been an active board member in a number of nonprofit organizations including G Day (United Girls of the World) and West Coast Environmental Law.
Mike Harcourt has travelled from storefront lawyer in Strathcona, to city councillor, to mayor of Vancouver, to Premier of British Columbia. Mike’s commitment to the environment and sustainability helped BC earn its reputation as one of the most livable places in the world and has also contributed to the transformation of cities and communities around the world.. Mike has received many awards, including the University of British Columbia has awarded him the Alumni Achievement Award of Distinction for contributions to British Columbia, Canada and the world.
Ken McFarlane is trained as an economist and lawyer. After a diverse career in the government, non-profit and university sectors, he and two partners founded The Katalysis Group Inc. The company acquired, developed and commercialized nine industrial technologies created at research universities in North America and Europe. The company sold its last three operations in Europe in 2019. Mr. McFarlane is now Chair of Regeneration International, a company which consults on economic development efforts.
We would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution our former colleagues of BCS: Michael Clague, Maggie Geiser, Frank Kaplan, Ray Spaxman, Joe Wai, Milton Wong.