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"chinatown business improvement association" Discussed on The Current
"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.