Calgary’s City Hall is hoping to revitalise Chinatown for its residents, business owners and visitors. The current pandemic has affected businesses everywhere and the foot traffic has declined in communities such as Chinatown. Many have pivoted to maintain operations such as restaurants offering take-out and delivery options. Others have closed entirely and the generation gap has shown that many children of store owners are choosing different paths. As such, there are hopes to make changes to the infrastructure to draw younger people back to the community.
A thriving Chinatown offers so much to everyone from things to see and experience, great food and cultural events. The City of Calgary recently announced its Tomorrow’s Chinatown planning initiative “to support Chinatown’s future growth so it remains a vibrant, culturally rich place to live, visit, work and to do business for generations to come.” This initiative to designed to replace the Chinatown Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP). The new plan is to be reflective of Chinatown’s unique local conditions and community. The plan should include participation from the stakeholders and engage the community.
Terry Wong, executive director of the Chinatown District Business Improvement Area (BIA) is active in this initiative and says “If we don’t establish Calgary Chinatown as a unique cultural enclave, we risk losing it.” Many others are actively involved including John Dong who is the Sien Lok Society president which supports Chinatown with fundraising galas, events for seniors and donations to organizations in Chinatown and more.
There have been many challenges over the years from moving Chinatown from one location to another due to external factors influencing where people wished to live and do business. What has happened in Chinatowns in other cities such as Vancouver and Toronto with ‘building creep’ can also happen in Calgary with the growing trend of older buildings being demolished in favor of new higher density buildings increasing the overall cost of living in the vicinity. These newer buildings often attract an influx of chain retailers and franchises operations as anchor tenants affecting the smaller family-owned independent businesses.
There are many variables as development can increase traffic and can assist local businesses as well. Increased foot traffic makes an area feel vital and more people draw more people!
Check out www.iloveyycchinatown.com – “Our mission is to bring Calgarians together through their love of YYC Chinatown. We strive to show our love through community service, mentorship, and encouragement of each other. We are a network of compassionate leaders through achieving positive change, all while celebrating Asian culture.” This is a wonderful initiate involving the younger generation in all that Chinatown can offer.
More to come and pay a visit to Calgary’s Chinatown – there is so much to experience!