Vancouver’s Chinatown to get $2.2 million from province to reshape, revitalize

Crowds watch the Lunar New Year parade on Pender Street in Vancouver's Chinatown on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. Global News/Simon Little

Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood is receiving $2.2 million in provincial funds to reshape and revitalize its shops, streets, décor and infrastructure.

The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation revealed the news ahead of a Friday funding announcement with B.C. Premier David Eby and Lana Popham, minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport.

The cash will go towards new lighting and storefronts, an upgrade to the façade of the Chinese Cultural Centre, the preservation of the neighbourhood’s culture, and more.

“The businesses in Chinatown have experienced many economic booms and busts, but this period has been one of the toughest in our history,” Jordan Eng, president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association, said in a news release.

“We are thankful for the leadership and vision of Premier David Eby and Carol Lee in their efforts to revitalize our neighbourhood.”

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Lee is chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, which works to preserve and honour more than a century of Chinese Canadian history in the region.

It spearheaded the 2021 opening of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, the first permanent exhibition space dedicated to sharing the Chinese Canadian journey, and is working to renovate the May Wah hotel, which provides safe housing to low-income residents.

The foundation is also developing a 231-home project at 58 West Hastings that will have an integrated health centre accessible to the entire community.

“Today’s announcement is about confirming that diversity is our strength in the province,” Eby said Friday. “That has never changed in terms of the story of the province, that it has always been people from around the world working together to make that happen.”

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Vancouver’s Chinatown business owners and residents say situation improving

Over the past few years, the neighbourhood has been beset by problems, including the financial blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in crimes such as window smashing, graffiti, theft and arson.

In February last year, Eng told Global News half of the Chinatown BIA’s annual budget was being spent on security, with $240,000 spent on it in 2021 alone.

“Over the past few years, I have witnessed firsthand the struggle many of our local small businesses and organizations across Chinatown have faced,” Lorraine Lowe, executive director of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, said in the release.

“This support has brought renewed hope to the community as we aim to create a brighter future in Chinatown.”

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Vancouver police install public safety trailer in Chinatown


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Friday’s news comes on top of $1.8 million in federal funds announced for Chinatown in February to help upgrade infrastructure, enhance landmarks and improve tourism opportunities.

Nearly $390,000 in grants were also approved by Vancouver city council for four Chinatown organizations for graffiti removal and other initiatives earlier this month.

Vancouver’s mayor and council have given the green light to a broader $2-million plan to revitalize the area, with a focus on sanitation, graffiti removal and community support.

“Vancouver’s Chinatown is more than just a neighbourhood–it symbolizes the city’s resilience, perseverance, and pride,” said Lee.

“With the contribution from the Province of British Columbia, we will be able to undertake projects that honour the past, embrace the present, and create a thriving community for future generations.”

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