Chinatown Supports City’s Eastern Core Strategy

Ming Pao - August 29, 2011

The City of Vancouver is looking at removing the Georgia Viaduct but behind this idea is a much bigger Eastern Core Strategy. The City admits that there is huge investment potential for the industrial lands next to Chinatown and the Chinatown community has expressed strong support (for this development), believing it could help lift property prices, increase visitor traffic and bring prosperity to the area.

The City’s Director of Planning Brent Toderian said on July 26, Council approved moving to phase two of the study examining the removal the Georgia Viaduct. This is a part of the Easter Core Strategy and more details will begin to surface next year.

The study looks at the feasibility of potential redevelopment of the area bounded by the Chinatown and Strathcona communities in the north, Mount Pleasant to the south, Southeast False Creek to the west, and Grandview-Woodland to the east.

“The market is here, it’s just a matter of time,” said Toderian, who pointed out there has been clear intention for investment in the area and the City believes there is strong development potential. But in view of the long history of the area, the City needs to take a closer look and to hear from the public before deciding on the direction to take.

Toderian stressed that the plan is only at the study stage and the City has not decided whether to turn this into a high density residential area. He said he understands there is strong interest in the market but they shouldn’t jump the gun before the City has a clear planning (direction).

Chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Merchant Association Tony Lam said the City has met with Chinatown representatives many times to consult their views on the possibility of future development and Chinatown in general supports the Eastern Core Strategy. They believe if a large residential area is developed south of Chinatown, after the Georgia Viaduct is removed people would need to go through Chinatown in order to get to downtown and that would bring tremendous business opportunities to Chinatown.

Lam noted there is a convenient transportation network for commuters in the Eastern Core study so many people would want to move there if it is developed into a residential area. As a ripple effect, property prices would also go up, he said, adding property prices in Chinatown have not changed significantly in the past 20 years. Although rent might go up in Chinatown after the development is complete, Lam is not concerned because there are bound to be tenants (who wouldn’t mind paying higher rent) and the impact would be positive.

On the issues of traffic and pedestrian safety, Lam said they are due to inadequate car traffic on the streets in Chinatown so pedestrians feel free to walk on the road, adding they wouldn’t do that if there were more cars on the road.

On the drug and safety issues in DTES, Lam believes as long as Chinatown remains prosperous and busy, drug users also have dignity and they wouldn’t want to be in a place where they don’t feel they belong so the crime situation in Chinatown would also improve.

Wai-wing Lam, the executive director of a local development company Rize Alliance, also agrees that without doubt, there is a huge development potential in the Eastern Core Strategy, which could also benefit the surrounding areas just like the Olympic Village does, and they are keeping a close eye on the City’s direction and ready to enter the market.

Lam believes W. Broadway is already fully developed so the future trend is to move east and he has his eyes on an area on E. Broadway between Main and Fraser for its great investment potential.