Harbin Gate vigil to honour Edmonton landmark that may never be put back together again

Harbin Gate lions removed Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Wes Rosa, Global News

A candlelight vigil is planned for 10 p.m. on Saturday night to say goodbye to the Harbin Gate, which is being removed from Chinatown for LRT construction.

The event is planned to protest a lack of progress between the Chinese Benevolent Association and the City of Edmonton to find a new location for it.

There’s also the fear once the gate is dismantled, they’ll never be able to properly put it back together again.

“It’s craftsman stuff,” association board member Sandy Pon said. “Once you take it down, it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t come back together. I don’t think we can salvage the pieces because it’s all ceramic and everything.”

The gate is being placed in storage crates and will be kept at a city service yard in Cromdale. The hope is to someday put the gate in a new location, however, Pon said her organization is frustrated by a lack of progress on that. A feasibility study is still underway with no solution in sight.

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The city has already rejected a bid to have it built on 97 Street, across from Jasper Avenue.

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“It would make so much sense if we could somehow put it at the entrance by Canada Place where the original Chinatown commenced 100 years ago,” Pon said. “That would be really the proper spot, but of course there’s a difference of opinion.”

A city spokesman confirmed the idea has been turned down by the sustainable development branch. The gate is too narrow for 97 Street, Claudia Wong-Rusnak said.

“We’ll have our little candlelight vigil starting at the Chinese Benevolent Association building on 102 Avenue. There and then we’re going to be walking down the area by the gate,” Pon said of how her group plans to recognize the symbol of friendship and economic ties between the Chinese province of Heilongjiang and Alberta, as well as the twin cities of Harbin and Edmonton.

“Even the Chinese government has written to the City of Edmonton,” Pon said. “First of all, they never notified them that the gift is being taken down. I think that’s kind of a bit of disrespect.”

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TransEd, the consortium building the Valley Line LRT, said the disassembly of the gate is scheduled to last through Saturday and Sunday.

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