Vancouver gets first look at $2.2M plan to revitalize beleaguered Chinatown

Click to play video: 'Vancouver councillor calls for urgent action in Chinatown'
Vancouver councillor calls for urgent action in Chinatown
A delegation of Vancouver police and community leaders recently visited San Francisco's Chinatown to see what that city has done to tackle crime and social challenges. Now one councillor is borrowing on that experience as she calls on city staff to support urgent measures to uplift Chinatown – Nov 9, 2022

A plan to revitalize Vancouver’s beleaguered Historic Chinatown is slated to go before city council next week.

Details of the plan, ordered by Vancouver’s new council late last year, are laid out in a city report published this week.

The Uplifting Chinatown Action Plan envisions actions starting in the second quarter of 2023, with just under $2.2 million in funding from the 2023 operating budget.

That funding would translate to an 0.2 per cent property tax increase, or a corresponding cut in services elsewhere, according to the report.

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver seeks new DTES street cleaning contractor'
City of Vancouver seeks new DTES street cleaning contractor

Read more: Vancouver staff asked to draw inspiration from San Francisco in crafting urgent Chinatown plan

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It proposes action on three fronts — cleaning and sanitation, graffiti abatement and placemaking, and community supports — operated as a set of pilot programs.

“The short-term actions identified in the Action Plan are an initial set of immediately implementable actions,” the report states, though they would be rolled out with an eye to broader, long-term strategies and co-operation with senior levels of government.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver delegation’s takeways from San Francisco Chinatown tour'
Vancouver delegation’s takeways from San Francisco Chinatown tour

The plan would be overseen by the city manager’s office, which would co-ordinate between Vancouver police, the Chinatown Business Improvement Association and other stakeholders.

Council had initially asked staff to look at potential bylaws, but the report recommends against this, saying any changes would then apply citywide and could come with unintended consequences.

Instead, it calls for increased support for graffiti abatement and removal on private property.

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Read more: New cops and nurses, helping Chinatown among first items on new Vancouver council agenda

“Rather than proposing any by-law amendments at this time, staff is instead recommending implementing a set of graffiti removal strategies and initiatives that have been included in the
Action Plan, while continuing for the time being with discretionary non-enforcement of existing by-laws Downtown and in Chinatown,” the report states.

The report adds that any changes to parking measures in the neighbourhood require further study.

It says the city has also identified three potential sites for a satellite city office in Chinatown, and projects an initial spend of $110,000 for the facility.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s Chinatown battling back against random attacks, graffiti vandalism'
Vancouver’s Chinatown battling back against random attacks, graffiti vandalism

The plan would earmark $1.34 million for improved cleaning and sanitation.

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Of that, $80,000 would go to specifically expand a feces collection pilot project in Chinatown, and $670,000 for enhanced daytime cleaning and feces collection for the broader Downtown Eastside, city and Chinatown.

Another $120,000 would be marked to boost a “micro-cleaning program” from nine to 13 times per week in the neighbourhood, $65,000 for 15 new trash cans and $125,000 for a neighbourhood cleanup program.

Read more: ‘It feels like a homecoming’ — Vancouver businesses open in Chinatown to help revitalize area

And $280,000 would go to better access to publish washrooms in the broader Downtown Eastside, city and Chinatown.

On the graffiti issue, the plan proposes $150,000 for graffiti removal and abatement in Chinatown, and another $10,000 for a graffiti removal program run by the Chinese Community Policing Centre.

An additional half-million dollars would be earmarked for grants to each of the city’s 22 business improvement associations, including $50,000 for the Chinatown BIA.

Finally, $50,000 would be dedicated to developing a safewalk program within the Chinatown BIA under the heading of “community supports.”

Councillors are scheduled to receive the report for debate on Tuesday.


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