Jan. 13, 2016 – CBC News
New buildings in Vancouver’s Chinatown are prompting concern among residents about the changing character of the historic neighbourhood.
After nearly 35 years, Chinese Herbs Enterprises is moving from its East Hastings Street location. Developer Wall Financial is demolishing the building the iconic store has been operating in since it opened, along with the one next to it.
In its place, a new development will be built that includes social and rental housing, along with some retail space.
“It sucks,” said Dominic Lai, speaking on behalf of the store.
“The Chinatown that we have now looks a bit like Chinatown, it feels like Chinatown, you see people walking around, but by no means is it the Chinatown I remember from before.”
Lai says he’s not against redevelopment, but wishes it happened in a different way.
“The buildings need work, but at the same time it has to be done in a way that respects there are people living here,” he said. “It’s not just empty space for someone to come and build whatever they want.”
Luckily for Chinese Herbs Enterprises, the store will be able to move into a new location just down the street from its current one.
Arguing for preservation
But the new developments, along with many other new buildings in the neighbourhood, have left many wondering if the area’s culture is being lost in the process.
“It’s going to be a different place and it’s targeting different people,” said King-mon Chan, an organizer with the Carnegie Action Project.
“It’s [targeting] people who are younger, people with more money, but a lot of the Chinese residents I’ve talked to are older — where will they go? Their sense of community, their sense of belonging to the neighbourhood is lost.”
The group says it wants the city to protect the people and culture that already exists.
The city says the redevelopments are all a part of a bigger plan to revitalize Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside.
The assistant director of planning said the goal is to create more affordable housing and a vibrant community, while protecting the area’s heritage.