City of Vancouver Punjabi Markets






Project Title

Popping up Pop Ups!

Project Description

The Punjabi Market is a 3-block commercial district located on Main Street between 48th and 51st Avenue. Situated in the Sunset neighbourhood—an area home to one of Canada’s largest South Asian communities—the Punjabi Market has been a destination for South Asian culture and commerce since the 1970s. Although the market was once a thriving commercial node, the area is currently experiencing economic decline. There is still a presence of South Asian-specific shops in the Punjabi Market; however, many businesses have vacated and/or relocated in recent years due to changing local and regional influences and the retail vacancy rate is high.

The City is preparing to undertake significant work to develop an understanding of the Punjabi Market’s value as a historic cultural district and, stemming from these values, identifying what actions can be implemented in the short-term through community-led projects supported by the City to regenerate the Market. The purpose of this project is to support the City’s efforts in regenerating the Market, by understanding what actions could be undertaken (by the City or external parties) in the interim to encourage the provision of pop-up shops in vacant retail spaces, and to identify implementable best practices that the City may use to support pop ups in the Punjabi Market and throughout the city.

Project Goal

The intent of this project is to identify how pop-up shops can be encouraged and supported across the City, with a particular focus on the applicability to the Punjabi Market area. This will be done through a review of best practices that enable, encourage, and/or support pop-up shops.

For the purpose of this project, a “pop-up shop” is defined as any short-term, temporary retail or event use of a physical space, such as a vacant commercial retail unit.

Skills Preferred + To Be Developed

  • Proficiency with online research • Strong verbal and written communication skills • Experience with or knowledge of operating pop-up shops would be an asset

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

Flexible. Meetings and interviews will typically be between Monday and Friday.

Project Location

Project work may be done remotely with the exception of the following: • Visit to the Punjabi Market (Main Street, from 48th – 51st Ave) • 1-2 meetings near City Hall (Cambie Street & 12th Ave)

Project / partner orientation

There will be an initial meeting with several City staff who are involved and interested in this topic to help provide context and support scoping the project. A dedicated City staff member will be available to support project scoping and provide any necessary background materials.

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students



Students with experience in video filming/editing is preferred.

Organization Information


City of Vancouver

Mission + Vision

Create a great city of communities that cares about our people, our environment, and our opportunities to live, work, and prosper.

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Josh Cairns
  • Email:
  • Address: 515 W. 10th Ave; Vancouver, BC
  • Phone: (604) 871-6598
  • Website:
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email is preferred. If contacting via phone, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. 

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • I hope students will learn about the role of pop-up shops/markets in communities and local economies and the keys to their success.
  • I think students will come to appreciate the complex retail environment and issues facing small businesses and programmers that rely on access to affordable and flexible spaces.
  • Students will develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of pop-up shops/markets, and how cities can support their feasibility.

Organizational Outcomes

  • Gain a better understanding of the factors that enable pop-up shops/markets and how they could better function in a Vancouver context.
  • Help university students better understand the City of Vancouver’s work and initiatives.