Chinatown deserves credit for keeping unique flavour

Although I am sympathetic to Rod Chow having to pay high property tax on a heritage parking lot, I thought it was sensational and irresponsible of the journalist, Carlito Pablo, to grab the reader with one man’s clearly motivated opinion of Chinatown: “Chinatown is in decline. Rents are low and vacancies are long. Businesses are closing. Property values haven’t improved in years. Crime is rampant, especially drug-dealing” [“The value of heritage”, January 19-26].

Not only are these statements untrue, they are potentially damaging to this dynamic neighbourhood. As a business owner and resident of Chinatown who has operated a successful antique and home-décor retail store for over nine years, I often feel the need to defend Chinatown. When journalists perpetuate the myth of a decaying Chinatown without (in many cases) experiencing it for themselves, it becomes frustrating.

Our rent went up 65 percent two years ago as a result of the boom in activity along East Pender Street. We also celebrated our best year ever in 2011. New arrivals like Blim, Bao Bei, Fortune Sound Club, the Rennie Collection art gallery, and countless others continue to thrive and keep this historic neighbourhood ticking while maintaining its unique flavour.

Perhaps asking others who own buildings or do business in the neighbourhood would have given a more balanced view of the situation.

> Michael Bennett / co-owner and operator, Peking Lounge