Our mission is to foster a thriving business and destination district that is inviting to patrons, tourists and businesses.

The Old Strathcona Business Association (OSBA) represents the interests of over 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:

  • Safety
  • Beautification
  • Clean Team
  • Business Attraction & Retention
  • Advocacy
  • Place Making
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Special Events

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 small businesses advocate, and community builder who brings passion, initiative and leadership to the organizations she works with. In addition to her role at the OSBA, she is also the chair of the Edmonton BIA Council which represents the business interests of all 13 business improvement areas in Edmonton.

Cherie brings over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, public relations, and business development in the small business and non profit sectors.

Alanna Morton (She/Her)
Membership & Marketing Coordinator

Alanna has more than a decade of experience working in retail and marketing environments, all with a focus on supporting local business. Her past experiences have given her a strong working knowledge of business operations, community engagement, and social media.

At the OSBA, Alanna directly supports member engagement, communications, marketing, and community activations.

Jeff Samsonow (He/Him)
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Jeff is passionate about community engagement, local storytelling and Old Strathcona. He’s a writer, journalist and producer who has worked in media, communications and marketing for two decades. Jeff also dedicates time to Edmonton neighbourhoods by volunteering with community leagues and helping local leaders on city-building projects.

As part of the OSBA team, Jeff works to amplify the benefits of shopping local and supporting neighbourhood businesses while sharing the stories of the community he calls home.

Owen Bonner (He/Him)
Business Recruitment Intern

Owen is an Alberta School of Business student majoring in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Management. He is passionate about small and local businesses and loves meeting new people. With more than 7 years of combined experience in retail, restaurants, and event planning he has gained a unique understanding of various industries and their business operations.

At the OSBA, Owen works to recruit new business to the area and build connections with the current business and landowners in the district.

Diana Bratu (She/Her)
Summer Ambassador

Diana Bratu is a student at the University of British Columbia, studying food, nutrition, and health. She stands for the wellbeing and strengthening of community within small businesses and the general public. Experience as a student interviewer, social media coordinator and attendant with the elderly, keeps her passionately engaged with people. Enjoying time outdoors as well as being a big foodie, Diana appreciates the offerings of the Old Strathcona area. Diana is committed to connecting with members and the community activations within OSBA, supporting the growth and play of Old Strathcona. 

Laura Placsko (She/Her)
Summer Ambassador

Laura Placsko is a business student at the University of Alberta majoring in accounting. Although she has previously tried her hand in economics and engineering prior to entering the Alberta School of Business, she still has a passion for understanding the “gears” behind each business model. She is passionate about creating an accessible and welcoming business environment that allows for freedom of expression on an individual and community level. In her free time, Laura enjoys exploring Whyte Ave and admittedly participating in some retail therapy; so, if you see her walking around feel free to say hi!

The Board


Kris Armitage (Knifewear)

Emily Sommers (Healing Waters Spa) Vice Chair

Anastasia Arabia (Trend Research) Treasurer


Michelle Childs (Pedego)

Al Gothjelpsen (Urban Sparq/The Pint on Whyte)

Malcom Rabb (Leopold’s Tavern)

Justin Weleschuk (Work Nicer)

Aiylnn Wong (Yelo’d Ice Cream & Bake Shoppe)

Honorary Members

Megan Dart (Fringe Theatre Adventures)

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