By Wanyee Li, on December 11th, 2017
About 21 dry-good stores in Chinatown have closed in the last seven years, along with half of the neighbourhood’s cultural food assets like green grocers and BBQ-meat shops, according to a study by the Hua Foundation.
Chow hopes even people who don’t frequent the neighbourhood recognize their value.
“Step No. 1 is to acknowledge the contribution that these businesses make to the community,” she said.
The city is trying to do exactly that with its new legacy business study. City staff are modeling their approach after the San Francisco legacy business program. The program supports heritage shops in Chinatown – a Chinatown that, like its counterpart in Vancouver, is experiencing rapid retail gentrification.
City staff don’t want to freeze the neighbourhood in time, community economic development planner Wes Regan insisted. But after surveying 50 residents and businesses, they realized some communities need additional support to retain their identity.
Case studies in the draft report include Kam Wai Dim Sum, publishing company Liang You Book Co. Ltd., and Italian-goods store Tosi & Company.
“Even if businesses may change, the legacies in the neighbourhood and the stories that are there can continue to be honoured and re-invented,” said Regan.
Ideas include lease subsidies, translation services, restricting store frontage sizes, and more, he said.