“Edmonton conference asks how to save North America’s Chinatowns”

May 28, 2016 – Edmonton Sun


Chinatowns across North America started as gateways for immigrants and turned into thriving hubs for Asian food and culture.

But with rising rents, gentrification, declining resident populations and competition from suburban amenities, the future of many Chinatowns is looking increasingly uncertain.

An international conference coming to Edmonton will ask how to save North America’s Chinatowns.

“Our over-arching question is, ‘Will there be any Chinatowns in the future?” said conference organizer Lan Chan.

“If you look at Chinatowns across North America, they’re either disappearing or they’re being displaced. “Gentrification is happening as well as redevelopment. In certain cases, the redevelopment might not look at the preservation of Chinatown. It’s just whatever the developers would like to build there.”

The Edmonton Chinatown Conference takes place June 11-12 at the University of Alberta. It’s organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton, the U of A Faculty of Education and Edmonton Chinese Community Organizations.

It will bring together Chinatown advocates, researchers, planners and youth from cities such as Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Participants include Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian senator of Asian ancestry.

With surrounding developments and impending LRT construction, Edmonton’s Chinatown is at a crossroads, Chan said. The community and the City of Edmonton is currently working on a new Chinatown master plan.

Chinatowns in other cities face similar challenges. In April, dozens of protesters chanting “save Chinatown” rallied at Calgary’s City Hall against a proposed bylaw change that would allow for a tower development they fear would change the fabric of their community.

The conference is a followup to a similar event in 2013 that focused on Edmonton’s Chinatown.

“For the Chinese community, it’s our history and our heritage,” Chan said. “It’s also a unique place for people to visit and it contributes to the economy of the city.”

Tickets to the conference are $50 for regular admission and $25 for students. Seating is limited and people must register in advance at 780-429-1914 or cba.edmonton.ca@gmail.com.


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