City of Vancouver formally apologizes to Chinese community for past discrimination

Chad Pawson, CBC News, Apr 22, 2018

The City of Vancouver formally apologized to Chinese Canadians on Sunday for past legislation, regulations and policies that discriminated against them.
“This is an important day for council and all Vancouverites to come together and recognize historical wrongdoings committed against Chinese people and to build a better future together,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a written statement.
An audience of 500 people witnessed the ceremony at the Chinese Cultural Centre, which was also broadcast on a screen along Keefer Street in the city’s Chinatown. Read more…

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson along with city councillors pose with the official apology offered to redress historical discrimination against Chinese residents. (City of Vancouver/Twitter)

Facing displacement by condos, should Vancouver artists ‘bite the hand that feeds?’

Tessa Vikander, Metro, Mar 11 2018

In an increasingly unaffordable city, where low-wage earners are struggling to find housing and artists are struggling to find affordable studio space, some members of Vancouver’s artistic community are calling on artists to get involved in anti-gentrification and housing rights advocacy.

The call to action came last Wednesday, during a community forum at the 221A arts space in Chinatown, where artists with varying political views debated the ethics of accepting developer money. After the event, Vincent Tao, a librarian at 221A who helped organize the event, told Metro that artists, who have to pay rent for their homes and studio or practice space, are in a tricky situation. Read more…

Vincent Tao wants artists to join groups fighting for rent freezes, a living wage and an end to “renovictions.”

Reconciling the damage done by ‘urban renewal’

Allen Garr / Vancouver Courier, FEBRUARY 6, 2018 12:41 PM

In the mid-1950s, Vancouver city bureaucrats steered a malleable and willing council down the road to “urban renewal.” It was a course pretty well every major city in the western world was taking as they tried to shake off the economic lethargy following the Second World War.

Here and pretty well everywhere else it was a strategy that had two major pieces: slum clearance and freeway construction. It was the time when the car was king and the middle class was moving to the suburbs.

Inevitably in most cities in North America that meant bulldozing homes and businesses populated predominantly by either blacks or Chinese. In Vancouver it meant both. Read more…

A view of Hogan’s Alley in 1958. Photo City of Vancouver Archives P508.53

Vancouver: Chinatown condo opponents take their fight to developer’s front door

MATT ROBINSON, February 25, 2018

Opponents of a controversial condo project at 105 Keefer St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown are vowing not to let up the fight even after the city’s board of variance refused to hear an appeal from the developer.

Nat Lowe and other members of the Chinatown Action Group plan to hold a rally outside the Beedie Group’s downtown office Monday. Last week the same group delivered a stern message to the builder in an open letter: “Your name may be on the deed, but 105 Keefer belongs to us.”

The city’s development permit board rejected Beedie Living’s proposal for a nine-storey condo building at 105 Keefer in November.

The developer was scheduled to appeal the decision at the board of variance on March 2, but a lawyer for the board told Beedie Holdings in a letter dated Feb. 23 that it would not hear the appeal because it lacked jurisdiction in the matter. Read more…

Nat Lowe of Chinatown Action Group stands outside the Beedie Group’s office at 1111 West Georgia in Vancouver on Sunday. Lowe and other opponents of Beedie’s 105 Keefer St. condo project plan to rally there Monday to push for social housing on the Chinatown site. ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG

New arts center helps reclaim a piece of Chinatown

Adrian Walker GLOBE COLUMNIST MAY 14, 2017

Glance out a window of the newly opened Pao Arts Center in Chinatown, and the view is dominated by concrete — specifically, an expressway entrance ramp that nearly six decades ago ripped a hole in the neighborhood’s soul.

The just-opened arts center is conceived as part gallery, part classroom, and part meeting space. It occupies space in a mixed-use development called One Greenway, a lovely but generic-looking high-rise that hardly feels like part of an ethnic neighborhood.

That’s because it is in an area that was snatched away from Chinatown under the banner of urban renewal. The homes of an estimated 200 to 300 Asian families, which once stood on the site, were demolished during the early 1960s. Read more…

Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy performed at the grand opening of the Pao Arts Center in Chinatown earlier this month.

Strathcona Saved!

The Vancouver Historical Society had a full house of more than 120 when Shirley Chan spoke to the audience about her late mother, Mary Lee Chan, who was in the forefront of one of the most important movements in Vancouver’s history, the fight to save the Strathcona neighborhood.

That struggle would change forever the way Vancouver city hall dealt with its citizens.

It began in 1959 with the announcement that great swaths of Strathcona houses (described as a “blight” on the cityscape) would be demolished to make way for new apartment buildings and a freeway connector. The residents of those houses—the majority of them Chinese—would be able to move to a new development near Boundary Road and the Lougheed Highway. Read more…

Mary Lee Chan’s heroic fight helped make Vancouver what it is

Amy Huva, Oct 3rd, 2013

Shirley Chan’s mom Mary Lee Chan knew everyone in her Strathcona neighbourhood in 1968 when the plan to build a freeway through the middle of downtown Vancouver was set to go ahead. She was a local force to be reckoned with who negotiated to help find work for residents when they were struggling for employment and never took ‘no’ for an answer.

Mary Lee’s husband Walter Chan was respected and knowledgeable and wrote for the local Chinese language newspapers. Together they made a formidable team and led the charge to stop the freeway that would have demolished Strathcona and would run around Coal Harbour, ruining some of what is now the most valuable waterfront real estate in the city. Read more…

Photo of Mary Lee Chan’s daughter Shirley Chan by Amy Huva

Chinese New Year parade gets new leader of dancing group

JOANNE LEE-YOUNG, February 15, 2018

There is a mini-brouhaha about who gets the coveted honour of leading the dancing group in the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown.

In recent years, the Hon Hsing Athletic Club, which was started on Pender Street in 1939, has been at the helm. This weekend, it’ll be a team from the Teo Chew Society of Vancouver, that was established in 1987 on Hastings Street.

There are definitely many gossipy views circulating. One is the diplomatic version with different teams taking turns. Others include a heated meeting, a secret ballot and the influence of backers. Read more…

Lion Dancers Michael Tan (right) and his master Peter Wong in Vancouver, BC, February 15, 2018. ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG

City scraps hearing for Chinatown condo proposal

Mike Howell / Vancouver Courier, February 23, 2018

Beedie Development Group’s ongoing battle to build a condo building in Chinatown took another blow Friday after the board of variance scrapped its March 2 date for a hearing.

The move comes after both city council and the city’s development permit board last year rejected Beedie’s proposal for 105 Keefer St. Beedie has revised its project at least five times in four years.

On Friday, lawyers acting on behalf of the city’s board of variance contacted Beedie (Keefer Street) Holdings Ltd. in a letter and said the company’s appeal does not qualify to be heard by the board. Read more…

On Friday, the city’s board of variance cancelled Beedie Development Group’s March 2 hearing regarding a condo building proposal for 105 Keefer St. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Past and future of Vancouver’s Chinatown showcased at new restaurant

CBC News, February 18, 2018

At the height of the Lunar New Year celebrations, in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, the proprietor of a new restaurant is working to revitalize a neighbourhood that has seen many traditional businesses disappear in recent years.

The City of Vancouver has been exploring ways to sustain the culture of Chinatown — local food suppliers like grocers, butchers and fish shops have been closing, often replaced by proposed condo developments and coffee shops.

The City says this is due to many factors, chiefly rising real estate prices and high property taxes. Read more…

Chinatown BBQ is decorated with second-hand furniture from other, now closed, restaurants in the neighbourhood. (Michelle Eliot / CBC)