Vancouver moves to enliven Chinatown’s lackluster Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Courtyard

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      It’s mostly empty, and largely unnoticed.

      For many, it’s just a place to pass through to get to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Sun Yat-Sen Park, and Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver.

      These three culturally important sites are located at a block bounded by Pender, Carrall, Keefer and Columbia Streets. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Courtyard provides access to these areas.

      And as Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung notes, except for some seniors doing tai chi exercises and a few activities during the Chinese spring festival, there’s not a lot happening at the courtyard.

      What many may not know, according to Kirby-Yung, is that it’s one of the two biggest public spaces in Chinatown, the other one being the Chinatown Memorial Plaza on Keefer Street.

      “It’s a very special place,” Kirby-Yung told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Wednesday (June 13).

      Because of this, Kirby-Yung wants to see the courtyard transformed into a lively and animated public square.

      Kirby-Yung has filed a motion to see how the city can work with partners on how to enliven the space.

      “I think there’s more opportunities to provide more animation in that space,” she said.

      Kirby-Yung’s motion is included in the agenda Monday (June 18) of the park board.

      According to her motion, the courtyard “has the potential to be a gem that is an anchor for the rich history of this neighbourhood”.

      Kirby-Yung isn’t the only park commissioner thinking about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Courtyard.

      Independent commissioner Erin Shum has submitted a separate motion regarding the site.

      Shum’s motion is also included in the June 18 agenda of park board.

      “Outside of special events, the Courtyard is generally underutilized on a regular basis by community due to its inhospitable conditions and poor maintenance leading to a lack of sense of safety,” according to the motion prepared by Shum.

      Shum cited lack of lighting in the evenings and inadequate shade during daytime, among other things.

      Shum’s motion calls for the allocation of up to $50,000 for the improvement of the courtyard.

      For its part, the management of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is calling for ideas on how to enliven the space.

      Interested parties can make submissions until June 30. Garden staff will hold a two-day place making event at the on August 23 and August 24.  

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