NEFC : Letter from the CBA to the City, Feb. 6th 2018

NEFC : Letter from the CBA to the City, Feb. 6th 2018

On February 6th 2018, the Chinese Benevolent Association sent the following letter to the City of Vancouver, about the Northeast False Creek Plan :

To Mayor and Council

The Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA), which for over a century has represented the
interests of its broad array of member societies and associations in Chinatown and
throughout the historical Chinese Canadian community of Vancouver, has been engaged
with the City of Vancouver throughout the reconciliation process that took place through
the Historical Discrimination against Chinese (HDC) Peoples Advisory Committee. As part
of that process, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously on October 31, 2017, to adopt
the recommendations of the HDC advisory committee, including a firm commitment to
develop a Living Heritage & Cultural Assets Management Plan to support the UNESCO
process and guide future development. A key component of this recommendation was that
the impact of development on Chinatown in neighbouring areas be given priority

In particular, the building of the Georgia Viaducts in 1969 as the first stage of a downtown
freeway system, and the unilateral appropriation of land leading to the dislocation of
Chinatown businesses and residents, was one of the signature episodes in a long history of
exclusion and removal of Chinese Canadians in Vancouver. The CBA supported the removal
of the Viaducts three years ago because of the symbolic importance of this history of
dislocation, with the understanding that some form of substantive reconciliation would
take place, and that Chinatown’s needs would be met through the creation of value from
the development of city land created by the Viaducts removal.

We ask on behalf of the Chinese Canadian community that will be the recipient of the
formal apology from Mayor and Council in April 2018 that as a substantive gesture of
atonement for the losses suffered by Chinatown with the building of the Viaducts, that a
“Reconciliation Trust” or similar public authority be created to partner with the City of
Vancouver in developing the two blocks west of Main Street all the way to the present day
Pacific Boulevard that was expropriated in order to build the Viaducts, along with a
new program of activities for the benefit of Chinatown residents (in particular seniors) of
the block of park space west of Quebec Street between Union and Keefer that is presently a
sports playing field. As a City of Reconciliation that has committed to acknowledging the
wrongs of the past, this substantive act of reconciliation by the City of Vancouver would
symbolize in the decades to come a genuine act that will transform Chinatown into a place
of pride and memory-making for all Vancouverites.

The CBA recognizes that all of the land in question is the unceded, traditional territory of
the First Nations who have lived continuously here for thousands of years. We
acknowledge the harm to Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh, and Squamish First Nations that the
appropriation of their territories has wrought. Because of the long history of mutual
respect and engagement between Chinese migrants and the indigenous peoples of British
Columbia, we support the ongoing reconciliation process with our host First Nations.

The CBA also recognizes the harm that the building of the Georgia Viaducts did to the black
community of Hogan’s Alley, and we fully support their process of reconciliation and the
discussions that they have had over the last year in regards to the block of land east of
Main Street along Union
. We look forward to working in parallel with them in a way that
honours the losses suffered historically because of racism and discrimination against both
the black community and that of Chinatown. As their process of reconciliation took place in
direct consultation with the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) planning team, we understand
that the process of reconciliation for the CBA and Chinatown has been taking place
primarily over the last two years through the HDC advisory committee process, upon which
the CBA has multiple representatives.

As detailed in our letter to Council for its January 31, 2018 consideration of the NEFC plan,
we believe that public land taken from Chinatown and Hogan’s Alley should not be sold or
leased to a developer for private commercial gain, but request that a legal authority and/or
trust structure be created over the next six months, with statutory and regulatory power
granted by City Council to oversee the long term land use, development, and management
of these two blocks for the public good of Chinatown. We are not willing to settle for a one
time consultation on the future of these lands, but to enter into a collaborative partnership
with the City of Vancouver for the long term as a means of creating a management plan for
the area, achieving UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, and managing and
maintaining the Vancouver Chinatown area as a distinctive historical heritage area for the
benefit of all of Vancouver.

On behalf of its member societies and associations,

Hilbert Yiu
Chinese Benevolent Association

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