Community Resource Map: Vancouver Downtown Eastside


DTES map of community services Vancouver Downtown Eastside
Selection of Map Image

This map illustrates many services for women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. I worked with Amy, a social work practicum student at WISH Drop-In Centre Society. WISH  provides a variety of services for female survival sex workers within a nurturing and non-judgemental environment. The organization said they needed a large map and corresponding brochure to connect people with the resources they need.

DTES map icons

Since not everyone who uses these services has access to a computer, it’s important that materials are also printed and easy to understand.

Information changes rapidly in community social services. Amy phoned organizations to verify phone/addresses, identified what relevant services the organizations provided, if there were accessibility concerns (especially at shelters), and other important details.

I took her big list and sorted it out into 19 different categories. Instead of using lists of words and labels, I used pictures/icons and groups of colours to illustrate basic services. This enables people with a variety of literacy levels to read the map. There’s quite a bit of cross-referencing between the categories, including shelters, health care, dental care, counseling, food, income, transportation, advocacy, showers, and locations of drop-in centers.

illustration of Carnegie Community Center Vancouver Downtown Eastside DTES

The final map is just over 2 feet by 3 feet.

Drawing maps is one of my favorite projects, and WISH does important work: “In addition to meeting essential needs by serving nutritious, hot meals, providing showering facilities, dispensing make-up, hygiene items, and clothing, WISH offers on-site nursing care, referrals to detoxification centres, rehabilitation houses, and shelters for upwards of 120 women per night.”

The matching brochure is in black and white and features a custom illustration of the Carnegie Community Center on the front – the heart and ‘living room’ of the Downtown Eastside.

I’ve removed WISH’s drop-in center contact information from these website images. You can reach them at 604-669-WISH (9474).



  1. Vicky Noble says:

    I hope your large map includes Powell Place, a woman-only shelter on the DTES that is open 24/7. The low-barrier shelter, run by the St. James Community Service Society for more than 40 years, not only provides hot meals and showers, but In-reach workers connect clients to longer-range housing options, detox programs and other services.

    • sambradd says:

      Hi Vicky,
      Thanks for the detailed info – it’s great to know that there are in-reach workers there at Powell Place. Yes, this is a location on the map. WISH identified a long list of resources and this was one of them. Thanks!

    • sambradd says:

      Hi Mariner,
      WISH is coordinating the distribution of brochures and I understand the poster is already up in their space.

  2. Denise says:

    Wonderful work! As a social worker having recently relocated to Vancouver, this map is a great help to me! Is it possible to print it out?

    Thanks for the information and again, great initiative.

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