MEDIA

What banquet culture means to San Francisco — and Chinatown

April Chan, May 12, 2017

San Franciscans of a certain generation have a specific vernacular to describe things of epic proportion: hella. (To emphasize the epicness, trill the “l” for added dramatic effect.) For this San Francisco native, it’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of banquet dinners in Chinatown. As in, hella loud. Hella, hella food.
And in the case of Chinatown’s New Asia restaurant, hella big. So for me, news of the city’s decision to convert Chinatown’s largest banquet hall into affordable housing brings mixed feelings. With gentrification sweeping through many parts of San Francisco, any effort to keep increasingly disadvantaged, longtime residents of any neighborhood — let alone, a historic district such as Chinatown — should be lauded. Read more…

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / The popular New Asia restaurant in S.F.’s Chinatown is popular for banquets. The city is in contract to purchase the property and convert it into affordable housing.

Opinion: How Vancouver city hall exacerbates the affordability crisis

NATHALIE BAKER, May 13, 2017

If you’d like to understand why the housing-affordability crisis continues in Vancouver, look no further than the recently posted City of Vancouver staff report in support of the rezoning of 105 Keefer/544 Columbia streets.Read more…

A 2016 architectural rendering of the Beedie Group’s proposed new development at 105 Keefer at Columbia streets in Vancouver’s Chinatown. This was the third version of the development that was submitted. SCD / PNG

Chinatown residents rally to oppose condo beside memorial

Wanyee Li, May 18 2017

Chinatown advocates are once again readying themselves for a fight to protect their way of life in a corner of the neighbourhood that holds special meaning to the community. The proposed 12-storey condo would be built next to the Chinese-Canadian memorial at 105 Keefer St.. But many current Chinatown residents won’t be able to afford to live next to the very memorial dedicated to them and their families, said advocate Beverly Ho, with the Chinatown Concern Group. Read more…

Beverly Ho stands beside the memorial dedicated to Chinese-Canadians in Vancouver’s Chinatown. (JENNIFER GAUTHIER/METRO)

Andy Yan: Where goes Chinatown, so goes the City of Vancouver

ANDY YAN, May 25, 2017

With the proposed rezoning of 105 Keefer and the prospective mass rezoning of the entire neighbourhood, Vancouver’s Chinatown faces a critical crossroads in its 130-plus-year existence — which paths will be chosen by Vancouver City Council over the next series of months. Planning and development in Chinatown is not the exception, but it has historically set the rule for the entire city.
The fight against the freeways in Chinatown in 1960s and ’70s is a founding myth of modern Vancouver. While seen by some civic and industry leaders of the day as a necessary means of economic revitalization and keeping the city “competitive,” an inner-city freeway proposal was defeated by a broad bottom-up coalition of citizens. These activists fought from the streets of Chinatown and Strathcona to the chambers of city hall and established a different urban vision for the city beyond freeways. Vancouver has been drawing livability dividends from that citizen-driven decision ever since. Read more…

A group of protesters gather outside of Vancouver City Hall on Tuesday to show their concern over a large development at 105 Keefer Street in Chinatown. MARK VAN MANEN / PNG

In Vancouver’s Chinatown, tailor Bill Wong sewed his way to success

JUDY STOFFMAN, 19 May 2017

After the Second World War ended, Bill Wong graduated from the University of British Columbia as a mechanical engineer along with his brother Jack, a civil engineer. A recruiter from City Hall came to the campus to offer jobs. What he said when he addressed the class in 1948 was crushing to the hard-working Wong brothers, and they never forgot it: “Tell the Chinese boys in the back not to bother applying or we’ll all be embarrassed.”
Instead of applying elsewhere to work as engineers, they retreated to Modernize, the thriving tailor shop their father opened in Vancouver’s Chinatown in 1913. Having worked there part-time since they were teenagers, they were on familiar terms with its ancient Singer sewing machines, antique button-hole maker and enormous steam iron. In its heyday, the shop employed 20 people and stocked hundreds of bolts of high-quality suiting material. Read more…

Bill Wong sits at his sewing machine in the Modernize tailor shop. Mr. Wong died of heart failure last month, aged 95, after a decades-long tenure at a family business that became a Vancouver institution. COURTESY OF MAURICE WONG

New plaque commemorates Vancouver Chinatown’s significance in immigrant history

POSTMEDIA NEWS, May 13, 2017

A new plaque unveiled in Vancouver’s Chinatown Saturday commemorates the national historic significance of the Chinese neighbourhood and the role it played in welcoming immigrants who arrived in Canada. Nellie Yip Quong and Wong Foon Sien were also both recognized as key figures in Vancouver’s Chinese history. Saturday’s event featured a lion dance and other cultural performances, and a presentation by North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson. Read more…

Imogene Lim and Mayor Gregor Robertson help unveil a plaque honouring Nellie Yip Quong as a person of the national historic significance in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on May 13. GERRY KAHRMANN / PNG

FROM OPIUM TO FENTANYL: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

RANDY SHORE, March 18, 2017

Vancouver has always had a drug problem. Only the opioids of choice — and the increasingly staggering death toll — have changed over the years.

When the members of the Royal Commission to Investigate Chinese and Japanese Immigration came to Vancouver in 1901, they got an eyeful.
“There are whole rooms of Chinese lying stretched out on beds with the opium apparatus laid out before them — all unmindful that their attitudes and surrounding conditions are being taken note of to assist in keeping the remainder of their countrymen entirely out of Canada,” reported the Vancouver World newspaper.
The so-called “Oriental commission” had hired a photographer and engaged a detective to guide them to the heart of the opiate trade, “the dope dives in the rear of No. 6 Dupont Street.”
The fringes of Chinatown have always been the centre of Canada’s opiate trade. Ever more potent and easily smuggled versions emerged through the decades, culminating in the scourge of synthetic opiates — fentanyl and carfentanil — thousands of times more powerful and many times more deadly than opium. Read more…

Opium smoking was widely popular with early Chinese immigrants to Metro Vancouver, as with these workers taking a puff during a break at Imperial Canning in Richmond in 1913. (City of Richmond Archives)