News Local

Chinatown heritage buildings need upgrades

By Stefania Seccia

Vancouver Chinatown.
Daniel Ho, VCMA

Vancouver Chinatown. Daniel Ho, VCMA

Vancouver council will vote Thursday on committing $3.6 million from future development contributions to upgrade 12 heritage buildings in Chinatown.

Vancouver hired a team of consultants in 2014 to develop a building rehabilitation program of the 12 heritage buildings owned by a Chinese society in an effort to revitalize Chinatown.

The 12 society-owned buildings are more than 100 years old and require “major building upgrades,” according to a city staff report.

“Maintaining and upgrading these heritage buildings is a significant challenge for the societies,” the report states. “Without a sustainable, long-term plan to renew the buildings and their operations, the buildings will soon reach a point where they will be unsafe and uninhabitable and their legacies will be lost forever.

“This is a critical moment for intervention to reverse the trend of decline.”

The non-profit Chinese family clan and societies were established a century ago by Chinese immigrants who arrived in Canada “in search of a better life,” and there are 56 society-owned buildings in the Downtown Eastside but only 12 have been identified as a priority for rehabilitation.

But it’s going to take a lot more than $3.6 million. The Chinese Society Legacy Program will require a minimum budget of $36 million, which will be sourced from a combination of community bonds, equity, loans, and grants — just for the 12 buildings.