News Local

Chinatown seniors shout at Vancouver mayor

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is presented with a petition from Chinatown residents on Tuesday - many of whom shouted at the mayor. 
(ADA SLIVINSKI, 24 HOURS)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is presented with a petition from Chinatown residents on Tuesday - many of whom shouted at the mayor. (ADA SLIVINSKI, 24 HOURS)

A mural on the border of Chinatown commemorating Chinese philosopher Laozi will be blocked by a six-storey building as development of a lot on the corner of Gore and Pender goes forward.

The mural was unveiled in 2010 as part of Chinatown’s 125th anniversary and has the philosopher’s words, “It takes knowledge to understand others, but it needs a clear mind to know oneself. It takes strength to surpass others, but it requires a strong will to surpass oneself,” written on it in both English and Chinese.

It is not the only mural that will be lost as part of development adjacent to Chinatown - the “Welcome to Chinatown” mural on East Pender will also be obscured by a new building.

That’s something King-mong Chan, organizer of the Chinatown Concern Group, said he views as symbolic.

Chan and a group of approximately 60 seniors from Chinatown presented Mayor Gregor Robertson with a petition Tuesday asking to “halt any further market developments in Chinatown,” in order to ensure “a plan to protect the heritage and future of Vancouver’s Chinatown.”

Robertson assured the group that the historic aspects of the neighbourhood would be preserved.

“I just want you to know that I won’t support any development in Chinatown that detracts from the character, the historic character in Chinatown,” said Robertson, just hours before he voted to approve the six-storey housing and commercial unit that falls right on the boundary of Chinatown and Strathcona. While he was accepting the petition, which had over 1,500 signatures according to Chan, seniors heckled him. “You no good,” “You’re tearing Chinatown apart,” and “Think about the people,” they yelled.

“If it were in Chinatown I would not be voting to approve it because the design or the form would not fit with the guidelines as approved,” said Counc. Andrea Reimer, before voting yes. “This building is designed to meet the needs of middle-income renters, which do exist,” said Reimer.

In response, Chan said, “I’d like to see her have more integrity and put a halt on this project.”

Seven councillors voted in favour of the re-zoning, with one – Adriane Carr – against.

“I’m frustrated and angry, we just talked about it this morning,” said Chan.

There was also some concern that the black-and-white bricks could be seen as offensive to the Chinese community. Councillors agreed that this issue could be dealt with at the development permit stage. The colour white is often associated with death in Chinese culture.

Poll

Is Chinatown's character worth preserving?

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