Preserving Vancouver Chinatown Past, Present and Future

On a cloudy Sunday morning, tens of thousands of people visited Vancouver Chinatown to watch the Lunar New Year parade. As the dragons and lions usher in the year of the rabbit, their presence, plus the surrounding crowd of the onlooker, brings fond childhood memories. It has been too long since I heard the nostalgic sound of the beating drum, watched the colourfully decorated folk dancers and smelled of the smoke from the crackling firecrackers. I remember going to New Town bakery afterwards to get treated with my favourite red bean ice drink topped with vanilla ice cream and freshly baked egg tarts. 

As I walked through Chinatown after the parade, it was great to see that many stores were still open as they displayed their fresh fruits and vegetable products in front of their entrance. Strolling further down the street, I would pass a few Chinese herbal stores where the fragrance of their dry goods fills the air. From the past to the present, these experiences, along with the presence of historical buildings and Dr Sun Yat Sen's garden, make Vancouver Chinatown unique.

However, it is also the part of the city that requires much revitalization and support. Most of the time, besides Chinese New Year, Chinatown is relatively empty—plagued by increased incidents of vandalism and the presence of drug addicts, many of the stores have closed, and those remaining are considering closing their businesses or relocating to another part of the city. However, all hope is not lost as the first Chinese Canadian elected mayor Ken Sim, proposes more social housing, addiction support programs and increased funding for policing to help tackle this particular problem. As the year of the rabbit, in general, symbolizes longevity, peace and prosperity, I sincerely hope that these auspicious qualities will come true for Vancouver Chinatown.