Our mission is to bring spaces to life with compassion and intention, engagement and empowerment, where commerce is a celebration of shared values. We build our community by caring about the impact our actions have.

The Old Strathcona Business Association (OSBA) represents the interests of nearly 600 businesses in the Old Strathcona and Whyte Avenue district.

We focus on priorities voiced by our members: programs and services in the areas of cleanliness, beautification, business support, marketing, advocacy and mobility. We represent our members’ shared goals, drive creative solutions forward and take meaningful action to constantly improve the District Whyte experience.

We operate strategically at the intersection of businesses, local policymakers, non-profit organizations, and all of the people who make up our community. The district overlaps 4 neighbourhoods: Garneau, Queen Alexandra, Strathcona, and Ritchie. District Whyte is a diverse community that is reflected in the types of businesses, services, arts and culture organizations that are the backbone of what we do.

What we do

There are many roles that a BIA, or business improvement area can play in the community, some of our core services at the Old Strathcona Business Association are:

What is a BIA?

Business Improvement Areas are formed by a collective group of business owners representing a specific geographic area. Together, they form an association with the purpose of promoting and improving the local economy of that business district. BIAs exist worldwide, and Canada is home to almost 350! Edmonton’s 13 diverse BIAs represent almost 4000 businesses. The Edmonton Council of Business Improvement Areas brings together voices from across the city to increase awareness and amplify advocacy efforts among stakeholders.


In 1899 the town of Old Strathcona was considered its own municipality, separate from the City of Edmonton. In 1907, Old Strathcona received its own designation as a city, and in 1912 amalgamated with the city of Edmonton.

A defining characteristic of the Old Strathcona neighborhood is its historical buildings, many of which are more than 100 years old. The oldest building is the Strathcona Hotel, which was built by the railway in 1891. After the amalgamation of the cities, Strathcona went into an economic slump, with very little re-development occurring. Growth would remain slow in the area until the 1970’s when the area again became a hub for supplying goods and services, this growth continued through the 1990’s with many new bars and restaurants established, and the area became known for its nightlife, soon becoming Edmonton’s premiere entertainment district. Over time, retailers, and other businesses helped develop a balance between the day and night time economies, and more events took hold, such as the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, Ice on Whyte Festival, and Pride celebrations.

In 2007, the Province of Alberta granted the City of Edmonton’s request and the area was designated a Provincial Heritage Area.


Cherie Klassen (She/Her)
Executive Director

Cherie is a community builder and small business advocate with over 20 years’ experience in marketing, communications, public relations, and business development. Her formal education includes a degree in communications and a certificate in public relations. Having spent most of her career working in small organizations and nonprofits, she has become very skilled in achieving results with limited resources. 

In addition to her professional life, Cherie has invested the last 15 years as a relationship builder and leader in the community, having served in various capacities in her community league, business advisory boards, and political campaign teams. 

As the executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association, Cherie leads the second largest business improvement area (BIA) in the city, with over 600 business. As a BIA, Cherie and her team work to build a destination and tourism district through beautification, marketing, and advocacy. 

In her free time, you’ll find Cherie out enjoying our amazing river valley, gardening, or hanging out with friends at one of our fantastic local restaurants. 

Ruby Benson (She/Her)
Member Communications Coordinator

Ruby brings a lifetime of experiences from Old Strathcona by attending school as a child in the area, living over the years in Hazeldean and Ritchie, attending social events at local businesses, and working with the City of Edmonton as a university student overseeing the Old Strathcona BIA.

During the summer of 2022, in her role at the City, Ruby worked with the Old Strathcona BIA on various projects. OSBA members can observe these projects in brick repair, sidewalk repair, tree care, accessibility issues, and the installation of parklets and benches. During her time with the City of Edmonton, Ruby also worked alongside the Downtown Business Association, the French Quarter and many more BIA’s in the Edmonton area.

Annie Melnychuk (She/Her)
Marketing Coordinator

Annie has spent over a decade in the area by attending high school at Scona, living in both the Strathcona and Queen Alexandra communities, and working at various businesses in the area. She has a passion for eclectic and vibrant communities- which is why she has always been drawn to Whyte Ave. Annie believes that independent businesses are the fabric of Edmonton’s rich and diverse culture and are key to further establishing Edmonton as a tourist destination.

With an education in Marketing, Annie has worked in the area as a server/bartender, brand manager, and communications coordinator at a local not-for-profit. This experience has provided her with insight into the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and how to best support business owners through the different stages of their venture.

Outside of work, Annie loves to spend her weekends enjoying Edmonton’s beautiful parks and trail systems with her dog, indulging in a brisket donair from The Next Act, or hosting friends and family for BBQs and get togethers.

Erika Machado (She/Her)
Summer Ambassador

Erika is a fourth-year student at NAIT, and she has demonstrated her unwavering dedication by pursuing her second degree in Business Management. Her academic journey is already marked by a Marketing degree from the Philippines and four years of professional experience as a marketing associate. Erika’s passion for organizing and planning events and executing impactful marketing promotions is evident in her work and personal interests. Her journey to Canada in December 2022 was a memorable family outing to Old Strathcona, where she instantly fell in love with the city. Beyond her academic and professional pursuits, she values quality time with her family and friends, often enjoying strolls accompanied by a delicious ice cream from her favourite local spots, Yelo’d or Made by Marcus. These personal interests and values make her relatable and approachable.

Ethan Bandura (He/Him)
Summer Ambassador

Ethan, a major in accounting at the University of Alberta, has discovered a love for marketing that fuels his innovative, data-driven answers to the BIA’s marketing strategies. His commitment to the BIA is deeply rooted in his community ties, having grown up in Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove. The vibrant atmosphere of Old Strathcona is a constant source of inspiration for him, and he often immerses himself in its culture. Ethan’s profile reflects his interests, including his love for exploring new restaurants, taking leisurely walks with his dog in River Valley, and enjoying Edmonton Oilers games with his loved ones. His community ties and passion for marketing are sure to inspire.

The 2024 Board

Anastasia Arabia, Treasurer
Trend Research
Kris Armitage, Chair
Michelle Childs
Rob Ferguson
Julio’s Barrio
Al Gothjelpsen,
Vice Chair
The Pint on Whyte
John Mackell
Laurel’s on Whyte
Dr. Amber McKinnon
Naturally Inclined Health
Dominic McKenzie
Float House

2024 Honorary Board Members:

Megan Dart, Fringe Theatre Adventures

Ryan Eidick, Eins Consulting

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