Places Matter: What Makes a Vibrant Neighbourhood?

What makes your neighbourhood special? Is it an abundance of dog-friendly parks? A thriving food-scene? A hub of independent retail? 

For Rize, a vibrant neighbourhood has three essential elements: distinct architecture resulting in a strong sense of place; functional places for life, work and play; and a community committed to supporting each other. A place where daily life is balanced with the vibrancy of urban living. 

From Mount Pleasant to Surrey’s City Centre, we connected with small business owners, restaurateurs, and city advocates whose work has made their neighbourhoods vibrant places to be. In our first series, we spoke to Gaby Bayona, owner and Creative Director of Truvelle and Stranger Agency; Dayandra Elrod, owner of Good Boy Collective; Shaun Layton, co-owner of Como Taperia; and Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade.


Every neighbourhood has a personality. What would yours say?

Gaby: To me, my neighbourhood (Gastown) is vibrant, diverse, and loves to keep you on your toes. 

Shaun: I’m an old but young neighbourhood (Mount Pleasant), filled with art and culture. From the old coffee shops and book shops to newer breweries and restaurants, a neighbourhood that is constantly changing but still keeping it real.

Gaby Bayona - Places Matter Feat. Gaby Bayona, owner and Creative Director of Truvelle and Stranger Agency

What can residents do as a collective to build a stronger community?

Dayandra: To me, building community is about caring for your neighbour and for your environment. Being kind to one another is the easiest way to build that! 

Anita: They can work with business organizations and governments to bring forward progressive ideas consistently.

Dayandra Elrod - Places Matter Feat. Dayandra Elrod, owner of Good Boy Collective (Photos by Thuy Nguyen)

How would you define a vibrant neighbourhood? 

Gaby: To me, a vibrant neighbourhood is a place that’s bustling from sunrise to sunset, with people from all walks of life coexisting.

Dayandra:  Every neighbourhood is vibrant in its own way, but I think the most vibrant are those that show off their character.

Anita Huberman - Places Matter Feat. Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade

How can developers forge stronger relationships with businesses and communities alike?

Anita: Developers are city-builders creating new opportunities to live, learn, work and play – adding to the beauty of a city through innovative and progressive architectural design.

Shaun: I think developers need to partner with or give small businesses a chance to build unique and interesting concepts. Small business is the fabric of communities, so developers need to do whatever they can to make their buildings have the best tenants.

Como Taperia - Places Matter Feat. Como Taperia (Photos by Conrad Brown)

If you could create the ultimate shared space for your community, what would it include?

Dayandra: Since our business is focused on modern and ethical dog supplies and a positive training lifestyle, it would be great if a community space could be used to help people connect and educate themselves on what they can do to have a healthy, happy dog.  

Gaby: It would be a well-designed, bright space with high ceilings, where creatives from all walks of life can hone their skills and pay for their membership by teaching others how to make things.