On April 27, 2018 the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society (VCBIA) and the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association (VCMA) held a joint press conference and issued the following statement.
Chinatown Today is not involved with either organization in any way. We are only sharing the transcript so that the positions of these organizations can be seen by all.
Joined Press Conference between the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society (VCBIA) and the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association (VCMA).
Official Apology to the Chinese Community from the City of Vancouver
- Thank you for the apology.
- The work does not end here; it has just begun. Ensure that history is properly documented and incorporated from beginning to end into the school textbooks so that such injustice never happens again.
Proposed Development Policy Update-March 2018 for Vancouver Chinatown from the City of Vancouver.
- The proposed Development Policy Update for Chinatown is detrimental to the future development and continued revitalization and sustainability of Chinatown. These proposed policies contradict the integrity and challenges the sincerity of the Apology.
- The amendment to building height and density is contrary to the results of the Historical Area Height Review supported by the leading associations and historic leadership of Vancouver Chinatown.
- Although City Planning has backed off on 1.0x FSR, lane setback, lane activation and amending Dwelling uses from outright to conditional, they should never have been suggested in the first place. Was this purely a negotiation tactic of the City or do they truly not understand the challenges the merchants and property owners face on a daily basis.
- Residential Development — New residential developments have created vitality in Chinatown that has not been seen in two decades. Current design guidelines provide vague definition of intangible character. Clarification by Planning is imperative to provide certainty to the vision of Chinatown, its future and bring together a divided community.
- For the past 3 decades most City policies regarding Chinatown have not been for the benefit of Property Owners, Shop Owners and Shop Operators. Nearly every policy involves Social Enterprises and nothing more. Consequently, VCMA had decided to cancel the Chinatown Night Market of 2018 in protest of the City’s neglect of Chinatown’s merchants. VCBIA supports such a decision from the VCMA.
The Real Stakeholders of the Vancouver Chinatown
- New groups consist of young people are make plenty of noises in Chinatown. They are all tech-savvy and rely heavily on social media to deliver their message. Commendable and admirable; however; they are anti-development and focus only on social housing and senior housing. There may even be a reversexenophobia involved! And yet, these new groups are not stakeholders of Chinatown: they do not live in the community; they do not invest in the community; they do not own or operate businesses in the community; and they even seldom take leisure in the community. So how do they qualify and quantify themselves to have a thorough understanding and claim ownership of Vancouver Chinatown?
Application of UNESCO
- Is this what the community and its actual stakeholders really want?
- Most UNESCO sites are abandoned areas that serve no actual practical purpose. Vancouver Chinatown is an on-going business and residential community.
- We support and are proud of our heritage. We strive to preserve our culture. No one is tearing down heritage buildings and replace them with multi-storey glass towers.
- Undeniable fact that the current residential population and its spending habits cannot and will not properly support and sustain the traditional businesses of Chinatown.
- We welcome a museum component in Vancouver Chinatown; however; Chinatown itself is not and cannot be a museum.
- UNESCO funding is a distance dream; Chinatown needs the much needed proper resources now for its survival and sustainability. Can UNESCO eligibility guarantee the proper growth and development of Chinatown or might it actually further jeopardize it? Is the community ready and willing to take this gamble?
Given all the possible negativities depicted above. Any astute investor, property and shop owner and business operator would either exit or avoid the community. Property owners will either sell or lease their properties to the highest bidder which in essence would fast-track the fall and disappearance of the Vancouver Chinatown as we know it. The time is long overdue that the City of Vancouver should consult and create incentives for the real stakeholders of Vancouver Chinatown, i.e. property and shop owners and business operators.