The politics of banning shark fin in Vancouver

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, MAY 7, 2019

Remember that day long ago when then-city councillor Kerry Jang stood up in the council chamber with two packages of shark fin in his hands?

Maybe you don’t.

I do because I happened to be there. Something about working for a living. It was September 2012.

The packages belonged to Jang’s mother and were purchased more than 40 years ago. Their original price was $14 each. Apparently, the fin is now worth several hundred dollars. Read more…

The City of Vancouver is waiting to see whether a bill will be passed in Ottawa to ban shark fin before considering a Vancouver-only ban on the Asian delicacy. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Heritage Vancouver releases 2018 top 10 watch list

Naoibh O’Connor, Vancouver Courier, MAY 17, 2018

The discussion around heritage is becoming increasingly complicated and perhaps nowhere is that better reflected than among some of the top finishers on Heritage Vancouver Society’s annual watch list that was released this week.

Heather Street Lands and the Fairmont Academy, a historic building that sits on the 21-acre property, earned the No. 1 spot, followed by Chinatown in second place. Neighbourhood businesses, meanwhile, landed in fifth position.

All three represent heritage values beyond just buildings.

Bill Yuen, the society’s executive director, says the organization wants to encourage the wider public to think beyond the traditional definition of heritage, which at one point focused largely on architecturally significant buildings, and to consider a fuller vision of heritage that includes aspects such as social and cultural history – areas that may have been under-represented in the past. Read more…

As Heritage Vancouver Society releases its annual Top 10 endangered sites list, executive director Bill Yuen says the organization encourages a wider view of heritage that includes social and cultural history like that found in Chinatown. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Vancouver council to apologize for historical discrimination against Chinese

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, MARCH 22, 2018

City council will hold a special meeting April 22 in Chinatown to make a formal apology to Chinese people for the legislated discrimination enacted decades ago by previous city councils.

The event at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver comes after the 11-member council agreed unanimously in November 2017 to hold a ceremony to condemn the racist policies of city leaders in power between 1886 and 1947.

Banning voting rights, not allowing Chinese people to run for public office and lobbying for a head tax were among such policies. Read more…

Vancouver city council has set April 22 as the date it will formally apologize to the Chinese community for previous councils’ legislated discrimination against Chinese people. Photo City of Vancouver Archives Bu N158.2

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

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

Beedie decision reveals times have changed in Vancouver

Allen Garr, NOVEMBER 16 2017

“I was wrong.” That uncommon confession slipped from the lips of Vancouver developer and Courier columnist Michael Geller. At that exact moment, he and I were sitting cheek by jowl at last week’s development permit board hearing on Beedie Development’s fifth revision in the past four years of a proposal for 105 Keefer St. in Chinatown.

Moments after the city’s real estate guy Bill Aujla explained that, after months of negotiations, Beedie was unwilling to either sell or swap this piece of property, Geller picked up his phone and sent out a tweet: “This will pass.” Although, he added, there may be some minor modifications. Read more…

rotesters gathered at city hall to voice their concerns over a nine-storey condo proposal for Chinatown that, in the end, was rejected by the city’s development permit board in a 2-1 vote. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Chinatown fight over 12-storey condo has deep roots

Mike Howell, May 31, 2017

Council to decide June 13 on Beedie’s proposal for ‘heart of Chinatown’. One of the first stories I wrote when I joined the Courier some 15 years ago was about how merchants and business organizations wanted to revitalize Chinatown. It was dying, they said. Read more…

Residents wait to speak Monday at one of four public hearing sessions held at city hall on a 12-storey residential development planned for property at Keefer and Columbia streets in Chinatown. Photo Dan Toulgoet – See m

Architect Joe Wai dies

Naoibh O’Connor / Vancouver Courier, JANUARY 16, 2017

A visionary architect, an activist and a gentleman. That’s how mourners are remembering Joe Wai, who died last week at age 76.
It was only last November that Wai earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Architectural Institute of B.C. — one of many accolades throughout his career. And it was only last week, shortly before he passed away, that he attended an open house for the controversial rezoning proposal for 105 Keefer St. in Chinatown. Read more …

Joe Wai died last week at age 76. File photo by Rob Newell

Meet East Vancouver’s original urban farmers

By CHRISTOPHER CHEUNG, AUGUST 10, 2016

Michaelina Teo has grown produce for many years, from mangoes in Brunei to the Swiss chard at her Renfrew home, but last year was the first time she ever won a prize for the sexiest squash. Read more…

Like many immigrant Asian seniors, Jason Lee and his wife, Jean, grow a colourful mix of eastern and western crops in their East Van garden. Photo Jennifer Gauthier
Like many immigrant Asian seniors, Jason Lee and his wife, Jean, grow a colourful mix of eastern and western crops in their East Van garden. Photo Jennifer Gauthier