Chinese Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan and several new and old Chinatown organizations have gathered together to vocalize an appeal for three levels of government to work together to purchase a site directly adjacent to a Chinese Workers Memorial statue that commemorates early Chinese immigrants, workers, and veterans in Chinatown. They suggest that the site be used to develop social housing and community facilities.
There have been many heated discussions over the possible redevelopment that is planned for the site of 105 Keefer Street, adjacent to the Chinatown Workers Memorial. This has led Vancouver East MP, Jenny Kwan from NDP, to hold a press conference on Wednesday at the Memorial statue in Chinatown along with representatives of many other Chinese organizations such as the Chinese Benevolent Association, Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, Chinatown Concern Group, and the Chinese Canadian Military veterans. They oppose the purely commercial redevelopment plans that have been proposed in the heart of Chinatown. The purpose of this press conference was also to ask all three levels of government to purchase this site in order to build more housing for seniors, as well as create more community facilities.
105 Keefer Street is in the heart of Chinatown, an area facing the same intense development pressures as Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Plans for a 13-storey tower don’t sit well with local residents. King-mong Chan is an organizer with the Chinatown Concern Group. He says the development will displace local businesses and the Chinese seniors who depend on them. King-mong Chan speaks with Redeye host Jane Williams.
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The lot near the corner of Keefer and Quebec streets is no historic gem. Once the site of a garage, it is now covered with gravel and a smattering of parked cars.
But it has turned into a Waterloo for Vancouver’s Chinatown, with a wide range of groups viewing whatever is built there as the indicator species for the future of this small historic neighbourhood.
At the heart of the debate are these questions: Are some buildings just too big for Chinatown? And what will do more to improve this beleaguered area, which has been losing businesses and vitality since the 1970s – more social housing for the poor or more market condos to attract the middle class?
A rezoning application for 105 Keefer Street is being disputed by a group called the ChinaTown Concern Group.
Organizer King Mong Chan says the plan to build a cultural center is just not enough.
“The cultural space that they are offering now is only 1000 feet, next to the alleyway and it’s only for a 10 year rental agreement. We don’t think that this development is appropriate for that site and something better for the community should be at that site instead.”
A proposed Chinatown development in Vancouver is coming under fire from community members for a third time
Vancouver-based Beedie Group has proposed a third version of a mixed-use development in the city’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, but the Chinatown Action Group, a coalition of neighbourhood activists, is opposed to what it maintains is a too-low number of social housing units.
The proposed building would have 119 market residential units, 25 senior social housing units, commercial space and a senior’s cultural space.