'The physical legacy of struggle and sacrifice': How Chinatown is part of Vancouver's past and its future
Hey it's Anna Maria tramonte and I'm excited to tell you about my new podcast. It's called more and I'll be talking to people. You may think you already know until you hear hear them here. We've got a little more time to explore and to probe and even to play a little so get ready for the likes of David Suzuki. Catherine O'Hara Margaret it out would and many others. You can find more with Anna Maria tramonte wherever you get your favorite podcasts. This is a CBC podcast. Welcome to Chinatown. Where located east of the downtown core? This is the cheapest neighborhood in the city of Vancouver. That's close to the downtown in town business section. There's lots going on here. A lot of changes a lot of concern a lot of changes and a lot of concern that is tour. Guide historian Judy Lamb Maxwell who knows this neighborhood inside and out and summed it up really well. We were out on the streets of Chinatown today. Yeah she took me on a mini tour. That she does and it is such a fascinating neighborhood. Basically operates in the shadow of downtown. You have the skyscrapers and the wealth. All around you a block. The other way and there is the poverty and addiction that has become synonymous right across this country with the downtown eastside Vancouver. Today we will talk about the potential and the threats facing this community. My Name's Matt Galloway Vancouver's Changing Chinatown. It's a special edition of the currents turns the we are here at the floater restaurant with an audience. Thank you all for being here and we're going to be actually Vancouver all week long. There's a lot to talk talk about in this city. We're hoping to travel across the country over the course of this year and we thought what better place to start than here in Vancouver. There are many things to discuss from the resistance to a pipeline in northern British Columbia and the protests that have been spreading right across this country to the story of a man on the downtown eastside. WHO's trying to make a difference? It's one person at a time. I'll be speaking with Santa. Who is the president of one of this world's top universities and we'll talk specifically about his Work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of students that you that comes out of his own mental health struggles and he has a fascinating story to tell but we begin here in Vancouver's Chinatown with my tour. Guide Judy Lamb. Well in the block that we're in there are a lot of heritage buildings beautiful heritage buildings. Some of them are not well taken care of Some of them are moderately taken care of. There's a lot of disparity in this neighborhood. There's millionaires that owned buildings. There's a billionaire that owns buildings lot of troubled people with mental illness and drug problems homelessness. But there's also hipsters opening businesses millennials and there are lots of non-chinese businesses in the neighborhood. Now it's about sixty five percent Chinese now. There are lots of empty store fronts. So I'm not really sure how this is going to evolve how it's going to turn out that question of how it's going to turn out is at the heart we're GONNA be talking about for the next hour. We have three guests with us to help lead this conversation and espn as a professor of urban planning at Simon Fraser University. Carolee is chair of the Vancouver. Chinatown Foundation also runs several businesses in the neighborhood including Chinatown. Barbecue and Jordan is president of Chinatown Business Improvement Association and also a realtor audience. If you would please say hello to our esteemed panel break too it. Just I want to start by asking about the connection that you all have to this this neighborhood carol-lee tell us about this neighborhood and what it means to you so I was born and raised in Vancouver and second generation Chinese Canadian and and my grandfather was one of the early pioneers and I'm actually working in a building that he bought in nineteen twenty one so we have deep family roots here here. I think that we've had somebody in the family who's worked in that building. Ever since he bought it in nineteen twenty one. So it's a neighborhood dear to my heart we. We spend a lot of social occasions family events that were based here in Chinatown so a lot of fun for the neighborhood Jordan for you. Tell us about this neighborhood. And and how far back your own connection to Vancouver's Chinatown goes well my grandparents. It's Kim over the early nineteen hundreds and both my parents were born in Vancouver which is very unusual in those days. Each each of my grandparents had a set of eight kids and and in those days it was very unusual. Family started a business in real estate and they release Sixty S to cater to the Chinese. That we're coming over from Hong Kong and this year we will our sixty year. And I've been at this office thirty years myself. Andy what is your own personal connection to the neighborhood. Well I was born in Vancouver and it began my relationship Chinatown My family's relationship to Chinatown began. When my great grandfather came in the nineteen twenties to Vancouver and up until his eightieth eighty eighty eighty fifth birthday? He ran the most modern laundromat over on Hastings Street Later on other parts of my family my father would open. been the Quantel restaurant on pender street and be one of the first dim-sum Hong Kong dim sum parlors as the end family. Legend has been told that That that that's my my kind of beginnings and overtime Dom Chinatown has become. Both my views and my tormentor as a as as a place place where I focused predominantly my climbing studies and I guess to this very day it it I think is a neighborhood for which I care deeply for. Why do you call it? Your music using your tormentor news. People might understand tormentor. Might be something different. Well I think it teaches you that other complexities. Neighborhoods the the the the idea of diversity within a community and how you navigate through those differences and understand that just you just you just call Chinatown Chinatown. It isn't just one model. If that is a whole series of different communities of different kinds of of of cleavages that are involved in building community and making a community. I think that what's interesting is hearing that previous your speaker about how to Chinatown is the cheapest neighborhood in Vancouver I would also I would challenger to say that China Town is one of the most culturally literally rich neighborhoods in Vancouver and I think that it's in that capacity. It is an extraordinary space in the city of Vancouver for so many people both Chinese Canadian and non-chinese why culturally rich gets a lot of attention. We're we're calling this Vancouver's changing Chinatown given what you just said and given how culturally rich it is. Why do you think it's changing while I think it's changing in part because Vancouver is changing and I think within that change? It illustrates actually some of the ongoing challenges of changing city of of social social and economic exclusion of how a city can grow and yet people might not prosper and I think that that is probably one of the biggest challenges oranges. Not only for this neighborhood but for the entire city of Vancouver and I think that this is really highlighting some of the many challenges we are facing today that I think the question is how are we going to face it into the future. How does the location of this Chinatown Chinatown effect? What's happening do you think Andy? I mentioned earlier the neighborhoods that surrounded by what's happening in those neighborhoods and I think that that's the interesting thing. Is that a how that reflects. Actually the story of chinatowns across across North America that in many cases they are within the inner city that there have been a lot a lot of times quite close to downtown. And what's interesting is that historically they were in some of the least geographically desirable neighborhoods. You will this. Chinatown was on the edge of tidal swamp that up until the nineteen sixties. You actually have the canal it just. It would come in right to the Chinese Culture Center just a few blocks to our to our west and I think that that really I think really I think marked the neighborhood for for for many decades but then at the same time I think particularly within the last twenty years an increasing amount of folks folks have a particularly wealthy are are rediscovering the downtown core the downtown living and and are moving into the neighborhood and in the midst of that you also have the downtown Eastside And so how does the downtown eastside effect this neighborhood in particular. I think that it's within the downtown inside and Chinatown you. You actually understand China town. As a neighborhood of sanctuary and even as a neighborhood of sanctuary it is at its limits because of how I think the the the the the the inability to engage the issues of of secure housing the idea of inclusive economic development that it actually I think represents the elements through which we have as collectively actively as a city have failed on are failing to build a city for everyone who you call it and I want to get to caroline a moment because she has personal experienced in running a business here but when you call it a neighborhood sanctuary just what does that mean to well. I think that it's like you remember how it said how this was neighborhood through which nope brought in so many different people. It's not only was China's Canadian but I think so many other cultural groups whether it'd be the indigenous population Italians parts of the black community in in Vancouver that it was that neighborhood through which you could find a sanctuary in been in many ways because you were different and in that difference you were able to build. I think of very unique community. Carolee how do you see this neighborhood changing. I think that Like Andy said it represents a lot of what we're seeing in large urban centers across North America. So it's not just Chinatown. The issues of Homelessness Mental Health Drug addiction a lack of inclusion. I mean I think they're magnified in this particular neighborhood because because of our proximity to the downtown eastside and because in some ways chinatown it was just kind of left. I don't think that you know and it's wonderful to see this. This big audience here today. I think if we were to have this conversation ten years ago. I'm not sure that there would be as much interest but I think that you know for me the prospect prospect of losing this neighborhood. I knew that there was a lot of other people who have that same sort of nostalgia nostalgia the same feeling. For How do we we save something. That's an integral part of our history of our collective history and so we set up the Chinatown Foundation in two thousand twelve uh-huh precisely because we could see the things that Judy had mentioned in your tour. This was going to happen and it was gonna be very difficult if we didn't do. Take some action that it would just be lost or what to talk about the foundation in a moment. Tell me about running a business here. What is it like to operate a business in Chinatown and just hold on? TASHA's did you want to move a microphone. I think my experience is probably it may be not representative of everybody. WHO's running a business in Chinatown? I WanNa say that we feel that. We've been very blessed because I think that from the outside people phone new sort of the motivation. Why we set up this business? It wasn't just a regular business. It was part of our whole revitalization strategy under the economic revitalization vitalize ation pillar and we felt that restaurants were an important anchor for a revitalized Chinatown but but we wanted to create something that was maybe a little bit more traditional and was inclusive so we wanted everybody who was in the neighborhood To feel welcome and could afford to eat in this restaurant so I think because we sort of people knew what the motivation was the people kind of they they supported us and so I feel that my perhaps APPs. My experience isn't representative of what it's like to run a business in Chinatown but that's really encouraging that people bought into the vision that you had that that that you believe believe that people wanted what you wanted in many ways I mean the strategic objective of opening this restaurant was we wanted to try and bring people back to Chinatown China Town. We wanted to help build community. We wanted to elevate culture just a little bit and provide a good place for people who would be considered at the bottom end. Totem Pole like in a working sense to feel that they could come and they would have a good place to work so I think people supported that. I mentioned this tour that we were on With The Tour Guide Judy Lynn Maxwell. And one of the places we went on this tour was a storefront beautiful storefront incredible building. Lots of great stuff inside Ed but if you take a look at the window of the store front there are big red sale signs on it because it is a closing down sale. This is Ming were cookware. It's been around since one thousand nine hundred seventeen at started as has a general store and in one thousand nine hundred sixty became a cookware store and this is the flagship location which was just sold an anchor building in an anchor business in Chinatown and closing down. What does that tell you about the states in the shape of Chinatown in twenty twenty? I don't know who the man is that purchased this building and what is going to become of this building but it's no longer going to be a cookware store. This business has been around for over one hundred years and it's the only cook ware store in the city of Vancouver that sells both Western and agent. Cookware becomes not a cookware store owned by Chinese family but as store that sells two hundred dollars. t-shirts what does that do to the neighborhood. Well we already have a place that sells two hundred dollar tee shirts and thousand dollar sneakers. Yes so I don't know what's GonNa Happen here it's sad. I was crushed when I heard that they were closing this. Because this is the best cookware store in the city. I love it Jordan stores. Come and go. This is just one store. How significant is it that this store is closing down giving its history? I think given the age of the business how long it's been in Chinatown. It really made a big focus on what's happening in Chinatown in the order What they recall legacy businesses? It's it's been happening for the last ten fifteen years the businesses that have you've been stable or or the foundation of Chinatown have slowly either closed down because the parents have decided decided to retire in our generation our parents told us to go to university. You get an education. Become a doctor become Laura. Those were the important UH professionals to be in. Because you don't want to be doing what we're doing it being in the store you know twelve hours a day and working hard hard hours you hear those stories in restaurants as well same edifice Bronson yes and so that was our parents generation and so the NFL inevitably these these stores would eventually slowly fade Out and And shut down and it's it's too bad that's happening and and really there needs to be some sort of succession plan And we have the the great thing as Carol mentioned. That is now that we have from ten years ago if you had the same compensation I don't think ah you'd have half of the people here but now we have a good youth group here. These are the people that need to to come into the into Chinatown the town in and continue what are answers. Our ancestors did and there are a few real bright stars. That have already done that. We've already got the top restaurants in Chinatown the top bars There's a lot of good things that have happened over the last five ten years as well as well as the negative negative size business owners. And we're going to hear from one in a moment but what do business owners tell you about what it's like to operate in this area right now i. I think it's tough. One of we did a survey last year of our members online survey and and one of the biggest challenge was cleanliness Munis graffiti and safety. And we've been working with the city and city staff on seeing how we can work to to Alleviate or work on these problems I mean we are right beside the downtown eastside issues of mental health and drug addiction. Definitely are ev in Chinatown. And and that's part of a bigger problem in the city We're not trying to solve that problem but we were trying to create environment that safe for our our merchants merchants visitors coming to Chinatown for many seniors that come to China and live in Chinatown or have always come to Chinatown to buy products that that comfortable in this community so you know that that is really are has been our focus. Do you find that the I mean what happens in in one neighborhood doesn't stop at a street for example so if something if there's activity behavior the downtown eastside. It's not going to suddenly stop at a block it's going to move moved through different neighborhoods. What the business owners tell you but what they want done about some of the problems that you've addressed it in the issues of of safety issues of cleanliness for example? Well I think we're the only eight cents half of its budget on security patrol where we're small. We've got six hundred members and while other areas in the city are expanding their their dollars on beautification and banners and flowerpots. SAY WE WE'RE Spending half of our our budget on having control making sure our our our merchants are feeling safe and having that presence on the street. We've asked The city for increase police patrol and and we're paying property taxes and a property taxes have gone up quite substantially this year. So we're asking the question and what what is coming to Chinatown you know. How are you going to help us? Keep our streets clean so when people come there the feeling inviting and they don't come just once and then say I don't WanNa go again one of the with them to keep on coming back and that's what most sustained any business in our neighborhood. I want to bring one of those business owners into the conversation. Douglas Chung is the owner of home. It's a nice store in Chinatown that I was at earlier today. What is it like to operate a business in this neighborhood? Never to be an wouldn't be in this neighborhood if it wasn't for a couple of other business operators in the area Joran talked about some some restaurants and and talk to tennis before I moved in actually and You know we were talking. I was talking to her about openings shop and somewhere else and she she she was the one that why not Chinatown town and it kind of resonated with me. Why Not Chinatown? Like argument was like if we don't if we don't open businesses here they're going to be no businesses here so I mean that's that's one aspect the second aspect is there's there's a bit of nostalgia for example not from Vancouver but being in the Chinatown it brings me there. There's some kind of familiarity hillyard. There's always a familiarity with all the different chinatowns and I think that again touches back on on the rich cultural history of any talked about and I think it's it's important to be here but it's not easy. What's not easy about it? There are challenges that we face for example some mornings. You just have to pick-up feces from your front door. It's it's an issue that a lot of other communities have to deal with and it's hard to imagine to even comprehend unless you live the day to day if there are issues that we need to deal with with safety sometimes stuff. They don't feel you'll safe but at the same time. It's not an unsafe neighborhood. It's a it's an odd kind of dynamic. There's good and there's bad but they're definitely challenges that other communities don't face so those are two things that I think a might prevent somebody from opening a business in the neighborhood but be could could drive somebody out of the neighborhood. How do you address them if staffer worried about safety if you mention you have to clean up? VC's before you open the store in the morning. How do you address those things? And what do you want the city to do tutoring the way I look at it is if I don't open up here if we don't have business here to keep things vibrant Than it's just GonNa be like that everywhere and I don't think it's It's not something that would make me run away. I'm unique in the sense that my business is a destination business. It might be more difficult for some other businesses operators that Arnie a destination business and I typically catered to a lot of professional chefs in the city which you know a lot of them do operate within close was proximity of the downtown eastside and also with Chinatown so they're not unfamiliar with with that And that for me is was one the jaws of locating here in Chinatown in close proximity again to to some of the my customers and stuff to thanks so much. Yeah thank you thank you. I'm just briefly Jordan. What what would you want given what he's described? What could the city do? Would you want to see done to address those concerns well right now. The the city has the the Chinatown transformation team. They're looking at Preservation and the cultural history over a long period of and how we retain Chinatown as a distinct neighborhood which it is But we need some immediate action in terms of of helping merchants today and helping helping are the people that are on the street and I think that would go a long way to keeping the neighborhood vibrant and and and as we said I mean the people that are here are here because they want to be here so you know let's let's make it a friendly environment and so that we we can all work together so helen. Ma is the senior planner with the Chinatown transformation team. This was set up in two thousand eighteen by the city of Vancouver to address this changing neighborhood. Helen Hi hi. What does the transformation team actually do right? So I'm part of a community. He planning team and our big focus is we want to focus on the assets of Chinatown. Try and tell strength. Which is cultural heritage and his people and the many organizations -sation and businesses? Who are here so we really want to bring everyone together around a strong vision that we're GonNa take care of the neighborhood assets together? Because that's what makes Chinatown Fight Brennan and also that these assets can be passed on to future generations so in the future people can continue to have a chinatown. What's the biggest challenge? Chinatown Chinatown faces. I think we've heard a lot of the different challenges that the community face and is a serious project and it's very challenging. What we're really hoping to to do is to support the community in coming together and finding solutions and also finding more resources from beyond each of our means to help address the situation we just heard about Anchor building in anchor tenant in Chinatown That the business and the building has been sold to a developer. No one's entirely sure what's going to happen. There is immense pressure on this neighborhood given the price of real estate and also the beautiful buildings that are here. What can the city do to protect that neighborhood when that pressure is so overwhelming? Yeah that's a very good point and I think again. We really need to focus on the strength of the neighborhood. Abraham and the good thing is I really hear that people want to come together and find solutions that we haven't tried before and right now we're beginning to understand. Chinatown is more than the heritage buildings. It's really the culture and the businesses and these are all things up. We haven't pay a lot of attention to before. So I think by focusing our attention on some of what we call intangible heritage it will help us bring Chinatown to a better place. One of the things. We've heard this here but one of the things that I heard when I was going through the community today was that people feel as though the threat is immediate that there are a lot of long term plans that you've talked about your hinting at but people want one help right now and so what is it that the city can do right now to address some of the things that we've heard from business owners from people like Douglas for example. Yeah so I'm part of one team within the city but what we're able to do is to listen to the community on what they care about and ask them. They really good ideas. What are some immediate actions that they want to do and then we can help pilot some small projects to show the protests and able to convince all the rest of the city that does neighborhood is needing more attention and support so oh one really good example that we did last year is putting some new bureaus in China talent? That's something that people do welcome and they think it's helping to tell toys of China talent and bringing more positive attention. We saw one of those murals. That had been defaced Baker feeding today. I mean the murals are beautiful but if the issues that are around the Neighborhood Create Commotion Effect What You're trying to do. Does it hamper those efforts. Are you actually able to get the results that you want. Want to see positive. Change is possible but like everyone have set the challenges quite bake so I think it really does take everyone Jordan. Are you reassured by by what you've heard I'd like to hear something today from and we've got transformation team members and we've got members of city council here and through the Bi. We've been working with other organizations in Chinatown for again with property hatches going up to see where we can get some immediate relief in terms of helping us get graffiti off murals. Had people come down to take a look at and what do they see In our back lanes and the garbage bridge that that gets dumped and we need to. We need to make it a safe environment for for all involved in Chinatown. So Andy Handy part of this. I think is fundamentally understanding. How many of the issues? That Chinatown faces is a systems issue to be to be respectful to the city. You can't expect the level of government with the least amount of resources to deal with some of the incredibly huge systemic failures when it comes to housing security when it comes to economic development and expect just the city of the city government engaged this issue. I think fundamentally it is a question. June of asking. Where is the provincial government? Where is the federal government and I think that fundamentally it's understanding that Chinatown isn't Chinatown? It isn't Chinese. It's a Canadian Canadian community. It is a Canadian neighborhood. That's full of Canadian disparate. Helen just just last term you on this is is there the opportunity to pull back a little bit and say that didn't Tandy's point this is this is all of our concern. It's not just something for an individual community to be concerned about. Yes absolutely. China town is Important not just to Vancouver but to the entire nation and the Chinese can eight m have made so much contributions to society and in the process of their struggle mix society and better and more just place so absolutely agree with Andy. Have your work ahead of you Helen thank you. Helen Mas senior planner with the city of Vancouver's Chinatown transformation team in the fall of nineteen ninety eight. An elderly woman women known as the Cat Lady went missing she had a very Very Distinctive Silhouette and very recognizable. See you're walking into town a handkerchief on her hair. Our long overcoat like somebody that lived on the street. All police could find were her thirty. Cats shot dead mm-hmm. I always knew something had happened to her to vanish like that uncover the cat lady case from CBC podcasts. I'm Matt Galloway Vancouver's Changing Chinatown. It's a special broadcast of the current. The we are not as you can tell in a radio studio. I am in Vancouver's Chinatown to talk about the future of this neighborhood and others like it we have a sold out crowd with us here at the floater restaurant alongside three guests with me on stage. Andy Yan professor of urban planning at Simon Fraser University carolee chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. And also the operator of several businesses in this neighborhood and in Jordan real realtor and the president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association. Thanks again for being here and being part of this discussion judy. Lamb Maxwell is is a tour guide in Chinatown and story as well and she told me when we were out in Chinatown earlier today. How this neighborhood was started so chinatown emerged? Because Chinese people weren't allowed to live anywhere else so they were segregated to this part of the city of Vancouver so this is the margins of the city was mostly men laborers that started chinatowns around the world. there were problems in China so a a lot of the men left their families behind went abroad to make some money with the intent of eventually returning home. Many did not but They were the ones that started chinatown. So how many were laborers. And then eventually people were working on the railway. The most popular businesses among the Chinese restaurants Laundries Andries Corner Stores Guard markets and various entrepreneurial businesses. Such as Taylor's this Chinatown started in eighteen eighty. Five breath Andy. And if you listen to that story how common is it to why these communities built up. Not just not just here in Vancouver but but right across Canada right across North America while I think it touches upon really how I think chinatowns began as neighborhoods where people particularly those of Chinese descent of found their first starts and they then they started off as a foundation to achieving their Canadian dreams. This and I think that for many generations. I think folks were lucky enough to be able to do that. And I think that. That's a remarkable testament to due to words I think the role of these neighborhoods in helping a number of families find their initial starts in Canada. But I think that Over time of course that does change and within that change. I think that that is another reality through which we are facing today as as we see the diversification advocation of the Chinese Canadian community we see different communities. Come in and out of the neighborhood that I think that it's a testament towards how Chinatown Hound is this neighborhood of beginnings. Tell me more about how that changes because again. It's not just here and it's not just in Chinese communities you have little Italy's you you have little Jamaica's you have LINEAS areas where the Polish community would gather and when the community expands the hub changes so. Tell me a little bit more about how you see that change in those neighborhoods. I think that the hubs certainly has changed. But then I think it's also acknowledging the fact that that Chinatown that was one of the few laps remaining working class low low income working class neighborhoods in the city and and as such. It's one of the few places that you've heard me say this before a sanctuary. It's one of the last neighborhoods of sanctuary. Let me see in in not only the city of Vancouver but Metropolitan Bank hoover and I think that that is one of the big challenges moving ahead. I think that a lot of this is very much the kinds of expansions of of of the community into communities as I should say into the many different parts of the region but then at the same time I think you also have to acknowledge the rather unique space and place in terms of history in terms of connections for both Chinese Canadians. And also those who aren't Chinese Canadians and I think that has provided a very unique foundation. That isn't necessarily found in a lot of other neighborhoods in the city. What have other Chinese communities and chinatowns across North America could done to stay vibrant as those neighborhoods as the culture has changed? I think that in part of it has been really a series of political political organizing. It's really looking at how to create a destination of businesses. That people people from across the city and around the region can come to and I think that it's been able to find a level of renewal towards small businesses. Give me an example of Um. I'm well actually one of the interesting examples is actually in San Francisco And really what. The Chinatown Community Development Corporation in San Francisco has been able to do to really facilitate the role of arts communities to enter vacant spaces and to ensure a level of vibrancy. Bad that I think that that is another element to understand the role of the arts in the vibrancy of the community in in the city and really allow allow for that opportunity to get people connected. Carolee why is it important that at a time when the Chinese community or communities are spread it as as they are now. Why is it important to preserve this community? Because it's part of our Canadian in history. I mean if there was any other part of Canadian history. I don't think we would actually be even asking that question so it really does go so for me. Back to the building of the railroad. It was important act of like I guess the most important infrastructure project like nation building project. In the history of our country that was actually facilitated because of these Chinese railroad workers. Can you imagine if they hadn't come over to work on this project very well could be part of America. You know because it was a lot easier connecting British Columbia to Washington state than going Over the rockies and think about how different that would have been for our country America would have control the entire west coast all the way from Alaska to Mexico and so because of that history. A neighborhood like this. You believe it is the physical legacy of that struggle and sacrifice so so for me you know. I think that there is a ah a change in chinatowns across the country. I do personally feel this. One here in Vancouver is special. Judy talks about how you know the beginning. The of Chinatown was eight hundred. Eighty five that coincided with the finishing the completion of the railroad. These people had nowhere to go and live. They didn't have enough money necessarily early to go back to China so they got this little piece of land on the edge of swamp as part of our audience. Listening to this conversation we are are joined by Stanley Kwok architect. Urban planner has been involved in major projects in the city. Including Expo. Eighty six redevelopment of false creek as well and the mastermind of Crystal Mall which opened in Burnaby in two thousand one Stanley. Hi The it's great to have you here. The you've been listening. What do you think how much time given what's changed and what you've been involved in in the changing nature of the city? How much time should be spent in preserving Chinatown? I have been in the city's cities fifty odd years ago. So Chinatown is very pot a very much a part of the life that I've been brought up with now as you have heard Chinatown is changing and it will keep on changing. To what extent will it change and Dan. How can we do what we want to do? I've been dealing with a question for a long time. Never really organized to ought to do it but while I believe nothing happens without money money it really comes at the base of everything and the way that you can create money in Chinatown to do. What Chinatown will eventually be is for all the property? The owners in China put everything into China and Chinatown Inc.. mcdonagh one big company and control that and through that that you could master plan to place you can bring up whatever you want to do. The second thing I heard is chinatown is many many things to many people and one thing for sure is like you have to think about is that is it a museum or is it a living living place on living community and I believe that there are differences in panel. And this is one thing that you need to sort out and I believe that my proposal health. What happens if you treat it like a museum? If people have an idea of what the community was and they see it in photos or they see it in the buildings. What happens if you treat a neighborhood like a museum a museum to slaughter all you have to have the land you have to control the lamb? And how do you control. The land is with money. There's no other no other way so I think that is the one thing that you have to think about how to to finance the thing to make peace and of course a museum cannot be this in this size it has to be a much smaller size and so you have to look into that and try to make that into a entity that can be digested aside from the financing piece of it. How do you turn something like this neighborhood into a living entity not not a museum piece? Well it needs a lot of study. I can't just so you just like this because if I say anything right. Now it's only my opinion as not with a lot of expert consideration given to it. And I believe it's a very serious problem that you should have very considered opinions behind fine all these forces to make the thing really happen. Do you worry that that the pressures facing this neighborhood will be so intense that those serious considerations may not be able to be made in time that this neighborhood which is under threat could face further a deterioration and further erasure because of those pressures. Well absolutely because you just mentioned earlier some peace already being sold to something. oedipus start being fraction off that way. There's no way you can do a whole Chinatown again. You designed a mall. That was in burnaby. Not here in Chinatown in China. Chinese focused mall if I can put it that way. Why was something like like that needed as the community changed? Why was that needed there? Because at that time you'll have a lot of population here. The Chinese population I'm talking about. There's a lot and westbound up but the majority of them are in burnaby. Richmond and Richmond has become a more or less a substitute for the old Chinatown Then there's a lot of Oriental population that is building up in burnaby. Be but there isn't such a thing at the time so at that time when the owner of the site came to me. I thought this might be a good idea but the difference is that Chinatown is something that people live their work there and shop there and I think that's what what I created and it turned out to be very successful if we were to have this conversation in five years time. How healthy do you hope this Chinatown would be? Oh Five. Years is too short to plan distinct together this thing and what I've just mentioned it'll take you at least ten years ten years. have in ten years. Do you think that this will be a living neighborhood. Thriving living neighborhood no. I don't think so because it's very difficult to get all. These small property owned us to come together and formed this Chinatown inquiry. Whatever you call it Unless you do that. There's no hope or to another Chinatown in my view. That sounds ominous tight. Sounds like the neighborhood really is is facing a serious threat very seriously deteriorating Stanley thank you thank you. Stanley Kwok architect urban planner in Jordan. He talked about the community spreading out what that means in terms of where people live of where people shop. What has that meant? When there are Chinese businesses and hubs malls in Richmond and burnaby? What does it mean for business here in Chinatown? I have to be a little more optimistic because I'm on the air so let's start with that the existential threat. Perhaps Jeff guys so chinatown. It's the heart and soul of the Chinese community throughout the lower mainland. You can't go to a mall in Richmond in burnaby and say this is Chinatown and this is where the Chinese population started. We have the buildings here. They're populated with seniors that socialize there. they play Mahjong. You know they come down to the streets and and and and have their lunch and then they go home. I think what we need is we really need to balance Few years back there was what was called the historic work area height review which many of the historic organizations were actively supporting to bring people living in Chinatown. And the whole idea is that you live you play and you work in Chinatown that up with a number of developments subsequently subsequently there's pushback on that but ultimately or ultimately you need people is on the street to make the streets safe at nighttime right now people come come. They go to the hockey game to football game. They have a beer dinner. Then they go home and I'm not talking condos or or social housing. We need a mixed community and and that was always what the discussion was to me though. It seems Andy. Maybe you want to pick up on this. That Stanley hit on the key. One of the key. The questions here. Which is is it for museum or is it a living neighborhood and how do you how do you try and find a space between the two right? Well I think first of all. It's really problematic. That neighborhood under glasses as problematic as a city of class that I think the city has changed and developed to a certain degree. Sorry I think through. which has I think a lot of people concerned about really the kinds of communities and in terms of connection and in terms of really an idea of of a of a greater whole within this? This idea of Chinatown. I frankly think Chinatown is actually an artifact from the future bat very much as an urban planner you see the ideas of mid rise walkable small business based neighborhoods and that's effectively. What Chinatown is and? That's effectively what most contemporary planners are aiming for and the fact that we're having trouble bowl or significantly challenges in terms of ensuring that these types of neighborhoods can thrive. I think illustrate. I think really the larger challenges that are happening in the city of Vancouver. I I think that the the idea that just sprinkle condos into the neighborhood. We'll fix the neighborhood. I think that that's been problematic. We have some some words upwards of eight hundred private condos sprinkled throughout the neighborhood In around the downtown eastside that I think really creates a bit of what is happening in in not only Chinatown about the greater downtown Eastside to another voice from our audience. Kevin Hong is the CO founder Executive Director of the foundation. Hi I'm Why did you set up your foundation? I think for us. We wanted to bring together the worlds of a a cultural heritage and social change. And currently we're working on issues around food security youth organizing and race and equity issues. What role does this neighborhood play? If as we keep hearing hearing the community itself is changing and the neighborhood is being forced to change by a number of different forces but in that what ruled Chinatown. Play I agree with Andy in terms of like like Chinatown holds. A lot for us in terms of what Vancouver will be like in Canada will be like and I think it's important for us to think about planning and land use. We do recognize that. There are certain land defenders right now out there. And how do we tie Chinatown to larger issues. Such as that when we're talking about land use so when we're thinking the property rights and money capital. I think Chinatown holds a lot of those complex issues. That if we're able to solve here we can actually apply to a lot of different parts Of the country. What is interesting is there's a lot but but a lot of the recent activism that's happening here is being led by first generation Canadian native people who perhaps don't have a long standing personal history with China Town but they see the importance of it? Why do you think that is I think There is this identity piece of round around where like myself speaking for myself Be Growing up here. I didn't really know the importance of Chinatown. All Its contributions to its history and our shared the benefits here around the food that we have like. We celebrate Vancouver as having the Best Asian food outside of Asia and that comes from the racial isolation the hard work of the people that came before us and for me to not have learned that history through the public education system and then being a part of the community with mentors and folks guiding writing me and showing me this is actually how the world was built and the that you benefit from. I felt a responsibility to be part of the Tummy. Just finally more about that. What you you see is your responsibility to fight for what? What is Chinatown as a city of like a neighborhood of sanctuary and that so far so many people not just the Chinese that they found themselves in here they were able to create a life here and I think that is something special that we need to protect? Kevin thank you thank you. That's a long. He's the CO founder Executive Director of the foundation nation. This is the current on. CBC Radio One. My Name's Matt Galloway in Vancouver at the floater restaurant. I special broadcast. This is Vancouver's changing Chinatown. Carolee tell me about the activism that you have been led to. You're you're listening to Kevin talk about what he's doing. What got you thinking that you could have a role in helping to shape neighborhood? As well I think you know growing up in uncover and seeing sort of the future five ten years out knowing that Chinatown probably would be would be gone Thought it was is important to try and come up with sort of an idea of how might I help and so. We established The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation in two thousand twelve well. A registered charity and the mission was to revitalize Chinatown. Well preserving its irreplaceable cultural heritage. I would say as a subtext. We sort of said to ourselves a place where people want to live work and play so getting back to sort of some of the questions. People are seeing the talking about here. We didn't want it to be museum it. It was always a place where there was commerce. There was you know interesting things that you could do for entertainment retainment you could eat and so it was like for us. We organized around three pillars which were physical revitalization economic revitalization and cultural revitalization so almost all of the projects that we work on fall within those three pillars talked about live work and play. The living is a big part of that and to live in the neighborhood. You need to have somewhere to live in and that leads to conversations around development and The the place of of condos the place of intensification in neighborhood like this. Can you have all of that at the same time. Can you have a neighborhood that we'll have more places for people to live but also preserve the neighborhood character. Absolutely I mean I think that in the foundation nation we say that change is inevitable but change without preservation is just as bad as preservation with no change so oh sorry provide development with Teens I'm confusing myself. But it's this fine line where you're trying to preserve and develop and I think that everybody has a different sense for what the right balance is awesome. I think that that's what we're talking about in this room. We all understand the importance of our cultural heritage but how much development is right for the neighborhood and so I think think that it's gotTa keep within the spirit of what Chinatown was meant to be heard was Jordan. Can you do that. Can you do both again. This this is it's a it's a conversation that's happening here. But it's happening in these communities across the country where people worry about neighborhood character and they say that the big threat to neighborhood characters giant building but yet we want people to live in the neighborhood and we want people to be walking and have this is on the street as you say. I think the word condo developers have become kind of bad words. Sort out there. And and you know a lot of ball. Half of my membership or property-owners Chinatown and you know lot of them have been in the community for a long time. It's a very important community. were were were small community in the big picture of the city And Yeah I think we can do plan development and it's all a matter of balance I think and you can you can plan that development elephant and not demolish the neighborhood. Feel the character of the neighborhood. What's interesting you say that because as as I've been here actually in this this office across the street for thirty years we talk about heritage in Chinatown and we all have a definition of heritage based on the time that we came to Chinatown in the time that we grew up? So so if you were here in the eighties and you said this is Chinatown. Herod Heritage You would not see this building here. You will not see any of the buildings across the street. You would have seen to two two buildings. The whole area was produce and the main area. Which Chinatown was pender street? So it depends on your on your vision and your time line of how how you see. Chinatown and Chinatown. Had A big growth spurt in the eighties and it developed well. I think there was a good balance at that time. And I think moving forward we have a resilient community community and I think you need to support the businesses need consumers. Just the last point on this. Do you think it's likely in the heated heated nature of these sorts of conversations that a word like condo will cease to be a dirty word. I don't know I don't think so. I WanNa take you on one more. Stop of the tour that I went on with Judy Len Maxwell we were at a beautiful heritage building the Chin Association an amazing easing amazing sight. And you walk up these steep marble stairs into this room. The door opens up. And you hear a very familiar sound. We've often to What I call a gambling den? The elders come here every day nine. Am to four PM and you can hear the tiles they Play Mahjong for small amount of money. It's wonderful for them. They get to use their brains. They get to exercise. I get to socialize. They're so cute. I don't have grandparents These are like my grandparents and so if this building wasn't here I mean the other one across the street was turned into a nightclub. Where would these folks going? I'm not sure they wouldn't go to a regular community center there to other floors upstairs The next floor they can do dancing Tai Chi practice destroying so this is just just a wonderful option for them into the the the next generation do they have any involvement in a place like this or any interesting. I like this A lot of people parents have not encouraged their kids to get involved Maybe second or third generation have no interest anymore anymore. There is no succession plan. I hardly ever see any younger people around here so these people are in their eighties. And not sure what's going to happen after they pass away. The game looks fierce. They look very serious. Doors Chow is. The CO founder of the youth collaborator for Chinatown. She's with us here in our audience at the Florida restaurant. Hi Hi what's it like for you to hear that scene from the Chin Association with a group of people playing a fierce game. I I want to join them. Does it seem like part of the neighborhood to you. Does it seem like the future of that neighborhood to you because as we heard one of the the assertions that was made aid is that young people perhaps have moved away. The aren't interested that this is a neighborhood that was for another generation. Not for them. Well I'm not eighty and I'm in the neighborhood and also a director of a clan society The Hoping Benevolent Association. So my sister and I and a a few other young people who have joined on the boards of associations so there is an emergence of young people for Youth Collaborative for Chinatown. We also Our aim is really to strengthen the heritage living heritage of Chinatown with experiential programs and projects most notably is our hot and noisy Mahjong socials else which we practice outdoors and we have. We have read cheering society too. I think it was my sister too but we have have attendees who are as young as two months to one hundred years old. And we've been doing it for five years. Why is this important for you to be involved in this? I think are one one of the impetus of Starting five years ago was really seeing the rapid changes in Chinatown but also throughout the city. And what we've learned over the years is really that people are yearning for a sense of belonging as each building changes. An goat goes down each business. Changes is changes. Our collective memory of the place changes and disappears and and we're finding that many people are coming back to Chinatown or wanting to connect with their identity and build those relationships with this place. What's the biggest threat that you think? The neighborhood faces not doing doing anything. But I don't think that that that is the case we have a lot of big challenges coming up. I mean the past many years have been challenging but we also have many bicker challenges coming like the coming down of the viaducts. Saint Pauls hospital coming. You know the northeast false creek another adjacent neighborhood hood that's going to be having a massive development so the what we think of now is being challenging. We have a lot more coming and I think we need to plan for that and really have some really wholehearted discussions about what we WANNA see. And that's exactly what we're trying to build. What we want to see in the neighborhood is development dirty word in in creating a future for China? I think I think it's kind of become a dirty word but I don't think it has to be. We need development element of seniors housing. Cathay Villa Seniors Home is development. That is welcome in the neighborhood for Chinese seniors and culturally appropriate appropriate care so nobody has been picketing their storefront. What about a tall glass building where many thousands of people might live? I think it really depends on the the pace of change in any place in any neighborhood and also the contents and the soul of what goes in it and this is what we're seeing all throat thank hoover that a lot of the change is so rapid that people are losing the connection to place people it just finally on this people have said and we had this conversation a little earlier that in many ways. It's a chinatown but it's also about the city and this is happening again across the country where people are being priced out of neighborhoods. People are being priced out of cities. Where issues are developing and spreading across the city and people wonder who the cities for and what the future that city is and they talk talk about it in a generational way and they'll say the next generation is going to be faced with this burden your that next generation? So is this really about the future of your city. Yeah and the future of our country I would say but that's where people like. Andy N come in plan and and give the insight around all that we're really grassroots roots and we're just trying to maintain the connection of our community with this place. What do you love about Chinatown whole whole the people the people absolutely and we're still here? There are plenty of people here you know. Even though everyone talks about Richmond being another you you know Chinese community and why come to Chinatown the relevancy of it. There's actually a big community here and you. I welcome you to come to our Mahjong. Social during the summer to see that community unity. We have people coming from the suburbs as far as Langley to come and participate with the whole family. What was it the hot and noisy? Yes on Social Doris Doris. Thank you thank you Doris. Child Co founder of Youth Labrador Chinatown in the remaining minutes that we have. We don't have an actual crystal ball but let's pretend that there was a crystal ball here with us at Florida restaurant Jordan ten years from now what. What would you like to see in this neighborhood? I'd like to see Well first of all I think Chinatown over. The last hundred years has evolved over with different waves. Chinese people coming into into Vancouver and I think it will continue to evolve. I think it's great to see this youth involvement. Ah The chair of the Chinatown Festival for six years and every year we brought in hundreds of volunteers because we wanted to bring them back to see what the culture of of Chinatown was and I think moving forward. I think that should continue. I think We need to see balance. I think we need to have residents in Chinatown much like any other neighborhood in the city that they can support the local businesses. The biggest challenge just coming up ahead. We'll be the growth of Saint Paul's and the northeast if he's false creek because those huge developments chinatown will be at the edge and I think we have to see. I think that's a bigger threat than losing chinatown in itself. Carolee ten years from now. What is the future of Chinatown? I actually am with Jordan. I'm actually kind of optimistic. I I think kind of optimistic. I'm optimistic I liked that declared of I'm optimistic and you know a lot of it is just because of you know this interest in like the people in the room is Jordan. Said I've been here for almost twenty years now and the youth enthusiasm N.. Engagement really I think bodes well for for a future of a place where people want to live work and play and we're seeing that businesses are coming. We're going to be opening up this summer. We'll have a chinatown storytelling center. We're opening a retail shop within their I'm reopening the whole restaurant was a which is a well known restaurant that was established in the nineteen fifties truly crazy. They'll don't be restaurants August. My Dad was not happy but but I know of other people that are wanting to open businesses too and so for me part of the reason why I wanted to open open. Chinatown Barbecue was just to prove that you could. That's what authentic revitalization could look like and could be financially sustainable. Because anything that we do you know they can't you know people have to make a living doing it and it's actually proven to me that it does well enough that I can open another restaurant. My dream would be able to to open a third restaurant but I don't know we'll we'll see could be trouble in the families concerned about to share and due to you at ten years in the future. What's your vision for this neighborhood? Well I mean first of all I think with Doris as well as the audience today. The reports of the death of Chinatown on have been greatly exaggerated. Let's begin off with that initial acknowledgement. It's also coming in from another element to understand. That Chinatown has a future. Only if you want that I think from Mark Twain to John Lennon that I think that that there is this idea that it is. There is a future for Chinatown. Only not if I wanted or Caruana Jordan wanted if we wanted content and. I think that it's in that idea of Chinatown as a collective project for both Chinese Canadians and those who aren't Chinese Canadians is that we come together and help shape this neighborhood and help shape the city. It's a poetic way to end. Thank you andy. And a professor of urban planning. It's seven Fraser University. Carolee chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. Jordan is the president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association around of applause. AUSE for what you've heard this evening. Smart stuff the also want to echo what we've heard from the stage. Thank everybody for coming out today. This is important. It's about this neighborhood neighborhood. It's about neighborhoods across the country the country itself and The fact that people are here and engaged in that is really encouraging and it is really optimistic. So thank you all for being here at the Florida restaurant here in Vancouver. My Name's Matt Galloway. This is the current. Thank you very much for more C._B._C.. PODCASTS GO TO C._B._C. Dot C._A. Slash podcasts.