The City of Vancouver has been working with the Chinese community on revitalization of Chinatown since 1999. Guided by the City Council’s Chinatown Vision adopted in 2001, much has been accomplished; and the more recent investments include façade grants, neon lights, awning improvements, street and alley improvements, community murals, window display contests, and funding for heritage building renovation feasibility assessments. The more substantial City investments in Chinatown include the Chinatown Millennium Gate and the Chinatown Plaza Parkade.
In order to implement the Vision Direction, the City Council approved a three-year work program for the preparation of a Chinatown Community Plan. This plan was completed in 2009 and included a policy plan, updated zoning, design guidelines, tourism strategies and capital investment. The Historic Area Height Review (HAHR), intended to inform the heights and zoning densities policies that will form part of the Chinatown Community Plan, has met with some passionate discussion. The issues range from concern with gentrification resulting in displacement of lower income population to sufficient size of new projects to assure development feasibility essential for economic revitalization. The City Council adopted the new HAHR in the spring of 2011.
As part of the Historic Area Height Review and to accelerate the economic revitalization of Chinatown, the Vancouver City Council directed staff to prepare a Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action Plan (CERAP) on a priority basis. This Plan is to focus on actions that can be implemented within one or two years. The other objectives of this Plan include initiatives to support the work of existing business organizations in promoting Chinatown, to engage the community in Plan development and implementation, and to create a sense of excitement to better attract customers and investors. City staff retained an economic development planning team from San Francisco and Burnaby offices of AECOM to assist with this Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action Plan. William “Bill” Lee served as Project Director and Linda Cheu served as Project Manager.