The DVBIA is excited to introduce you to Melissa Higgs, Board Vice Chair, and Vera Liu, Board Secretary-Treasurer.

The DVBIA is excited to welcome Melissa Higgs, Principal at HCMA Architecture + Design as it’s new Board Vice Chair.

Melissa has been working with HCMA on Granville and Hastings street since 2015. Melissa became involved with the DVBIA when ideas on improving  downtown’s public realm through activating public spaces created by her architecture and design firm caught the attention of the association. During the DVBIA’s work on Re-Imagine Downtown 2040, it was clear that both HCMA’s and the DVBIA’s thinking of the importance of placemaking and people-focused public space aligned.
In 2017, HCMA worked alongside the DVBIA and the City of Vancouver to transform the first downtown alleyway, “Alley Oop.” The following year, Melissa and HCMA helped the DVBIA  bring new life to Ackery’s Alley, the laneway behind the Orpheum Theatre.
Melissa had the chance to sit on the Policy Advisory Council in 2017, and was thrilled to  accept a position on the DVBIA Board of Directors when the opportunity arose in 2018. Melissa’s favourite part of being involved with the DVBIA is making a difference in the community, “from art and design, accessible and diverse public space, tourism, housing affordability, the opioid crisis, childcare availability, and so much more” she says.
As Vice Chair, Melissa is most looking forward to the opportunity to influence the future of downtown, to have a voice in advocating for positive change, and to be involved in the critical dialogue around what makes Vancouver such a vibrant city. Melissa’s favourite projects she has seen the DVBIA implement downtown so far are the laneway transformations.
Melissa says that the DVBIA’s highlight of the year so far has been the association’s approach to collecting metrics. The dashboard that the DVBIA team developed to track the use of public space and the ongoing collection of feedback from members on their experiences of downtown help to prioritize the DVBIA’s efforts, direct their areas of advocacy, and track their success.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Melissa is most looking forward to working with the placemaking team to create and maintain public space and accessible programming in the downtown core. Despite this unusual time, Melissa looks forward to finding new ways to gather safely while supporting local businesses with new thinking and inventive approaches.

The DVBIA is excited to welcome Vera Liu, Director of Investments at Kingsett Captial as it’s new Board Secretary-Treasurer.

Vera became involved with the DVBIA when she joined the Granville Street sub-committee in 2017. Vera was interested in the DVBIA’s efforts to revive the Granville Strip. With that interest, she was able to learn more about the DVBIA’s mandate, and eventually joined the board.
As both an owner’s rep as well as a resident in the DVBIA’s catchment, Vera’s favourite part of being involved with the association is, “being personally and professionally invested in the community and having the opportunity to shape ideas and develop projects that help downtown thrive.”
Having the opportunity to directly contribute to the DVBIA’s mandate of making downtown a more attractive place to visit and invest in is something Vera is looking forward to as Secretary-Treasurer of the board. One of Vera’s favourite projects she has seen the DVBIA implement downtown was the temporary shopfront “Murals of Hope” that were painted throughout downtown during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was tough having our usually vibrant streets turn into boarded shopfronts, but the murals brought some of that energy back in,” she says.
Vera highlights the DVBIA’s COVID responses to support local businesses and retain vibrancy in the downtown core as her highlights of the year so far. As for the year ahead, Vera is looking forward to continuing to support DVBIA members as downtown emerges from these interesting times.