Vancouver's vandalized Chinatown gate still awaiting repairs

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      Most of the plaques decorating the pillars of the majestic arches linking historic Chinatown to downtown Vancouver have been missing for about a year.

      That’s how long Kelly Ip has been in touch with city staff about replacing the panels lost from West Pender Street’s Chinatown Millennium Gate. He was formerly the vice president of the now-defunct Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Society, the group that championed the landmark’s construction.

      According to Ip, Daniel Ho, who works nearby as office manager of the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association, noticed the metal plates gone on June 5, 2014, likely stolen to sell as scrap metal.

      That same day, Ip, a sought-after marriage commissioner and a former federal government manager, got in touch with city hall about the situation.

      Spanning Pender just west of Shanghai Alley, site of the first Chinese settlement in the city, the gate is the pride of the ethnic community, serving as the starting point of Chinese New Year parades since it was dedicated in 2002. It’s also a popular tourist attraction.

      “We informed city hall about it, but nothing has happened,” Ip told the Straight at the archway.

      He counted 18 missing plaques that contained the names of individuals and institutional donors that helped construct the commemorative structure, which was funded mostly by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments at the time.

      According to him, these were actually substitute panels installed after the original plaques were vandalized through graffiti a few years ago.

      The bronze rings that encircle the bases of the four pillars of the three-storey-high gateway have not yet been stripped away by thieves. The two stone lions guarding the western side are grimy, and in need of a wash. Ip noted that the gate is city property.

      City hall didn’t respond to an interview request.

      “It’s so ugly,” Ip said, pointing to the now smeary surfaces the plaques were taken from. “It’s such an eyesore. It shouldn’t stay like this for a year.”



      Sgt Transom

      Jun 3, 2015 at 1:15pm

      I feel sorry for the people of Chinatown and fear that any metal plaques to replace them are going to meet the same fate. Hopefully a more permanent, less valuable alternative can be found.

      In general I find that city council ignores many parts of the downtown core, especially those that are supposed to be attractions. Walk along Granville St between Robson and Davie on the weekend and the amount of trash and cigarette butts from the partiers is disgusting, and it's not getting better. I know there have been others to bring it up but other than putting up ineffectual butt containers there has been nothing. I have a feeling that the shopkeepers are supposed to keep the sidewalks in front of their stores clean, but other than one or two stores they do not do this. This part of Granville is supposed to an entertainment and shopping district but it is just a garbage pit. In Montreal the city pays for cleaning up the same type of area on St. Catherine and the mini-street cleaners are out in full force in the early morning and the sidewalks gleam after that.

      Council needs to get their minds of bike traffic for just a little bit and put some attention on where people walk. Don't forget the pedestrians, because there's a good chance that many of them are tourists.


      Jun 3, 2015 at 4:07pm

      Why does the City often lack the 'Attention to Detail" that the taxpayers expect? Why do City staff ignore these things?


      Jun 3, 2015 at 5:22pm

      Just another example of distorted COV priorities. Just a couple of weeks back we had the embarrasment of the faded and poorly maintained Komagata Maru Memorial serving as a backdrop for visiting dignitaries. There must have been at least a couple of dozen managers from the COV and VPB who knew well in advance that event was going to take place yet none made the effort to ensure our City's visitors would be impressed by the memorial and it's story. You can be sure City Council and staff have been reminded plenty of times about the Chinatown gate's condition but since none live in the nbhd they choose to dodge responsibility. Both serve as reminder of why our at-large municipal representatives can ignore select nbhds without fear of consequences. With wards Citizens of Vancouver would know exactly who their elected representatives are at the COV and VPB and directly accountable to them.
      City / park cleaning and maintenance continues to lag all over the COV while fees continue to climb yet the COV and VPB uncovered $ 450,000 for 'artwork' at the PNE, the home and away grandstands, only 3 thousand dollars/seat.

      L. Alan Herbert

      Jun 3, 2015 at 10:37pm

      The Millennium Gate is one of the greatest landmarks in Vancouver's Chinatown. It was constructed as part of a project which was to create a history-heritage walking route through Chinatown, called The Silk Road. Some of those old red Silk Road street signs still remain. The Silk Road was intended to feature monuments and markers recalling the rich histories of the Chinese who have settled here. It is a valuable and fluid history, one worthy of being commemorated in public art, worthy too of being celebrated through monuments and story-telling plaques immediately on the very streets of the Chinatown Heritage District, telling these stories to and for all generations. It is sad that the City of Vancouver is allowing the few monuments which have been built so far, on Vancouver's Silk Road, to deteriorate and be defaced. Public art tells Vancouver of its own stories, it speaks to who we all are and to what we strive to be as a great City. At the very least, the City should keep this public art in good condition as a mark of self-respect and in remembrance of those who lived these histories.