Anchor Institutions in Vancouver's DTES


How can anchor institutions be drivers of economic change?

"Anchor institution" refers to any educational facility, cultural institution, health care facility, community foundation, faith-based institution, public utilities or municipal government. Most importantly, anchor institutions have a connection to place. In Vancouver's DTES, non-profit housing and other community organizations are an important part of the local economy, and might be considered anchor institutions.

Using 2014 data from the CRA and annual reports, we summarized the expenditures of 30 non-profit housing and community organizations in the Vancouver DTES and found that these organizations collectively earn over $1 billion in total revenue, and budget $715 million on expenditures.


There is an opportunity to build community wealth through targeted local purchasing, hiring, real estate development, and investment.


The key strategic issue is how to leverage the vast resources that flow through these institutions by localizing procurement, investment and other business practices. Anchor institutions have the opportunity to retain the vast streams of money that leak out of the community by making their purchases locally.

This map is interactive!

Select an anchor institution from the dropdown list to view their expenditures.

An anchor institution strategy like the one in Cleveland can be a powerful job creation engine, not simply by localizing production, but also by forging a local business development strategy that effectively meets many of the anchor institutions’ own needs, which the existing market may not be equipped to handle. Or, put more succinctly, anchor institutions have the potential to not only support local job creation, but also to shape local markets (Howard, 2012).

Note: Due to limitations in data availability, we were unable to include several educational facilities located in the DTES.

Visualization by Devin Tinney.