Fourth Plain Forward
Fourth Plain Forward is a multi-year City initiative to improve the portion of East Fourth Plain Boulevard known as Vancouver’s ‘international business district’—roughly between I-5 and 65th Ave in central Vancouver.
The initiative is focused on strengthening and growing small businesses, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, improving the corridor’s safety and appearance, and promoting equitable and inclusive development. Working jointly with partner organizations, the City of Vancouver aims to foster a vibrant and prosperous Fourth Plain corridor for residents, workers, and visitors.
One of the most significant accomplishments of the initiative has been the founding of a community-based organization, also called Fourth Plain Forward, which is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit that is committed to making Fourth Plain Boulevard a place where residents and businesses can thrive.
The City of Vancouver’s work on the Fourth Plain Forward initiative is guided by the Fourth Plain Forward Action Plan, completed in June 2015. This plan is intended to guide implementation of the economic development policies and goals of Vancouver’s Fourth Plain Corridor Subarea Plan, a comprehensive small-area plan adopted by City Council in 2007. The Action Plan establishes a targeted economic development strategy for the corridor by outlining five goals and recommending specific strategies and actions to help achieve each goal:
Goal 1: Cultivate a vibrant and welcoming business district
- Allocate resources to organize and program the business district
- Invest in existing commercial spaces
Goal 2: Stabilize and grow small businesses
- Implement small business technical assistance strategically
- Extend small business support to home-based microenterprises
- Help small businesses and microenterprises access capital and build assets
Goal 3: Create a growth pipeline for food entrepreneurs
- Implement projects and partnerships to catalyze the growth of food businesses
Goal 4: Prioritize pedestrian safety and access
- Improve neighborhood connectivity to the corridor
- Enhance pedestrian safety and comfort
Goal 5: Foster inclusive, transit-oriented development
- Enhance regulations for transit-oriented development
- Incentivize inclusive transit-oriented development
The Fourth Plain Forward Action Plan was created in collaboration with a team of students from Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. For their work on the Action Plan, the student team received a national student planning award from the American Institute of Certified Planners in the category of “Best Application of the Planning Process.”
The Vine – Bus Rapid Transit
In January 2017, the Fourth Plain corridor became home to the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit line. The Vine, a high-capacity transit system constructed by C-TRAN, connects transit riders from downtown Vancouver to the Westfield Mall via Fourth Plain Blvd—C-TRAN’s highest ridership corridor. The Vine benefits transit riders by providing greater frequency and predictability of service, and has improved the look of Fourth Plain with enhanced station areas that provide wider sidewalks, better lighting, and attractive shelters with public art elements.
For more info, visit C-TRAN’s website.
Pedestrian Safety Initiative
Clark County Public Health (CCPH) received a $250,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to support active living projects, policies, and environmental changes along the Fourth Plain corridor in central Vancouver. As part of Kaiser’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Initiative, CCPH collaborated with three partners—the City of Vancouver, Bike Clark County, and Vancouver Public Schools—to introduce a variety of programs and policies that support physical activity and health on the corridor.
As a partner on this grant, the City of Vancouver developed strategies to improve walking connections in the Fourth Plain Corridor and adjacent neighborhoods. Using Goal 4 of the Fourth Plain Forward Action Plan as its guide, the City developed a safe streets strategy called the Fourth Plain Forward Pedestrian Safety and Access Implementation Strategy, which evaluated existing safety measures and recommends areas for improvement.
Business District Development
The City facilitated the development of a non-profit business district organization, also named Fourth Plain Forward, to manage the ongoing enhancement of the Fourth Plain International District. The purpose of this organization is to promote the welfare of Fourth Plain businesses and residents, enhance the image of the district, attract new visitors and investment, and manage projects and activities within the district.
The Fourth Plain Forward nonprofit works on district beautification, the Fourth Plain Multicultural Festival, safety advocacy, and community art projects. The organization supports small businesses within the district by facilitating technical assistance, organizing business networking events, and business workshops.
Fourth Plain Coalition
The Fourth Plain Coalition started with a Kaiser Permanente HEAL Communities Grant in 2015 and a partnership between Clark County Public Health and the City of Vancouver. The grant-funded project aimed to increase access to physical activity on and around Fourth Plain Boulevard to address differences in health outcomes and economic security in these neighborhoods compared to other Vancouver neighborhoods.
In 2018, the Coalition expanded to include over 30 organizations whose work aligns with the Coalition’s priorities of promoting safe streets, economic opportunity and affordable housing for Fourth Plain neighborhood residents and businesses. The Coalition continues to utilize local partners to create a place-based framework that aims to concentrate investments in things like safe streets, healthy living, housing security and a vibrant economy in a small geographic area.