City of Vancouver approves measures to protect unique character of Chinatown

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      Vancouver council has moved to preserve Chinatown’s heritage for present and future generations.

      In a meeting Thursday (December 10), councillors approved a legacy program to rehabilitate 12 heritage buildings owned by Chinese family clan and benevolent societies.

      Councillors also endorsed the reallocation of unused grant money to upgrade buildings in the historic district next year.

      In addition, council adopted a proposal by councillor Andrea Reimer to designate councillors Raymond Louie and Kerry Jang as council’s liaison to the community in connection with the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood plan, and economic revitalization strategy.

      The Chinese Society Legacy Program approved by council will see the city work with the Chinatown Society Heritage Buildings Association (CSHBA) to raise $36 million for the program.

      The city will contribute $3.6 million to the fund from future development contributions in and around Chinatown.

      At the meeting, councillor Geoff Meggs noted that the city needs to adopt “desperate measures” to prevent the loss of the 12 heritage buildings.

      Meggs asked CSHBA president Fred Mah if the $36 million fund being eyed is enough to ensure the preservation of the heritage buildings.

      Mah noted that he really doesn’t know if such amount is sufficient. He suggested that the city can increase its share by getting a portion of contributions from development projects from elsewhere in the city.

      Louie, for his part, expressed hope that city staff were right in their approach that a $3.6 contribution from the city can attract partners and open up funding opportunities from other sources like senior levels of government.

      In the same meeting, council also approved a staff recommendation to reallocate $400,000 in unutilized monies from the city’s Chinese society buildings matching grant program for distribution in 2016.

      The grant program supports upgrades to buildings owned by Chinese family clan and benevolent societies in Chinatown and the wider Downtown Eastside.