Art & Culture
October 1, 2018

Panel: Chinatown and Beyond – Oct 4

On April 22, 2018, Vancouver City Council convened a Special Council meeting in Chinatown where Mayor Gregor Robertson delivered a formal apology for past discrimination against people of Chinese descent. The core recommendation was to develop an inclusive process towards a UNESCO World Heritage designation for Chinatown.

Join Melody Ma and Wendy Au and current Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC (CCHSBC) President Sarah Ling for a provocative discussion on what has happened in Chinatown since the Apology, and how we can transform our city. The panelists for the evening will be joined by Hayne Wai (Moderator, CCHSBC Past-President) and Baldwin Wong (Senior Social Planner, City of Vancouver).


Thursday, October 4

7 – 9 pm

Alice McKay Room, Central Library (VPL), 350 West Georgia Street

For More Information

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From Heritage Vancouver:

Conversation #2: Change in Living Communities – False Creek South

False Creek South between the Burrard and Cambie bridges is characterized by extensive green spaces and a diverse mix of housing types. The design of this community has its roots in the values-based social planning that was revolutionary when introduced in the 1970s and 80s.

The lease agreements begin to expire in 2025. The City, which owns approximately 80% of False Creek South, has begun to explore the future of this neighbourhood and its residents.

In this session, we seek to provide a space for attendees to discuss what physical and non-physical aspects of False Creek South are significant and definitive, and what degree of change is acceptable before these qualities are compromised? As a piece of city-owned land that can contribute to civic priorities – in particular housing issues – how much responsibility should be placed on False Creek South as a solution to housing needs?  And more.

John Atkin – Civic historian, author, and heritage consultant

Nathan Edelson – Project Manager at False Creek South *RePlan and retired Senior Planner for the Downtown Eastside, City of Vancouver

Tom Davidoff – Director, Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate Associate Professor, Strategy and Business Economics BC Sauder School of Business

Jennifer Maiko Bradshaw – Renter and a pro-housing activist with Abundant Housing Vancouver.


Thursday, October 11

7 to 9 pm

SFU Woodwards, 149 W Hastings Street, Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

Register here


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One of the more remarkable aspects of the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver is the endless bloviating about community amenity policies and consultation processes, yet we are unwilling, or unable, to discuss actual root causes.

Stuart Smith is a director of advocacy group Abundant Housing Vancouver, and has done a lot of research on factors that have gotten us to where we are today, like exclusionary zoning. My notes from a meet-up over beer in early May include the names Sonia Trauss, Kim-Mai Cutler, and Stephanie Allen.

A few weeks ago, on the first of two days of public hearings in council chambers to debate the motion to amend RS-1 zoning across much of the city to allow for duplexes — an offshoot of the Making Room report (spoiler alert: it passed) — Stuart was one of the voices supporting this motion.

He was too short on time for an anecdote which would have served as an important educational moment — he shared it with me afterwards, along with the above map:

90 years ago, Harland Bartholomew drew this map. Its explicit goal was to constrain and separate apartments, and people who live in apartments, from detached homes, and the people who live in detached homes.

Many proponents of this map knew it would ghettoize apartments, and the racialized and marginalized people who were most likely to inhabit them at that time. They considered this a feature, not a bug.

This was a radical change to traditional ways of building a city. It’s been 90 years. The experiment has failed. It’s time to move on. It’s time to make room.

It’s possible this 90-year old zoning plan ultimately influenced the housing tempest we find ourselves in today.

If you buy into the idea that past is prologue — or, if you’re skeptical of Making Room and the duplex motion in general — watch and listen to the final 90 seconds of his Stuart’s actual presentation. It’s worth it:

The full text of Stuart’s five-minute presentation to Council follows.

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Mini-golf at the corner of Denman and Georgia (1930)

Tales from the West End

October’s featured storytellers, educators and historians, Isaac Vanderhorst and Janet Leduc, will intrigue us with their story, “Recreation in the West End, 1890s to 1930s”


Wednesday, October 17

5:30 to 7:00, story telling from 5:45-6:45

JJBean Coffee Shop, 1209 Bidwell St., (Bidwell & Davie)

Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJBean


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What’s happened with zoning changes in Vancouver is a cultural change, and a fight that’s as old as Vancouver.  The arguements are the same, the type of associations are the same; but the lack of political will to engage the fight in the name of renters, density and affordability may be changing.

The upcoming civic election will tell whether those with the will to make greater and more significant change will assume power, or whether things will go back to same-old, same-old, with all power going to neighbourhood associations themselves to ensure that middle-density rental buildings are excluded.

The messages’ media has certainly changed, but not much else.

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The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is hosting a brand new event that explores Vancouver’s diverse West End neighbourhood. The self-guided tour offers an exclusive look at 15 sites between Robson Street and English Bay, and Burrard Street and the edge of Stanley Park.

For one day only, explore the buildings and sites that help tell the story of the West End.  The tour is well-navigated by foot, bike, transit or car. Tour goers will have access to private residences, gardens and commercial spaces as well as community buildings and sites.

For those who missed the Queen Charlotte Apartments on our 2015 Heritage House Tour, or for those who loved the building and would like another chance inside, this historic residence will be open including an apartment not previously shown. Ticket holders can also explore the Leslie Lane House, spaces within the Mole Hill Housing Society, the Mid-Century Modern interior of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation office, two churches, private gardens and more.


Saturday, September 29

12 pm – 5 pm

To purchase tickets visit or call 604 264 9642.

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“Tales From the West End” is an evening of story-telling where we explore and experience our community through stories about our common past.

September’s featured storyteller is heritage consultant, Donald Luxton who will intrigue us with his stories entitled “Curl up and Dye”, the Tonsorial Arts as practiced in the barber shops and beauty salons of early Vancouver.  He will include stories from Maxine’s Beauty School, the current location of JJBeans”.

This November 20,1931 photo shows students and instructor’s from Maxine’s Beauty School  [Stuart Thomson. Photographer. CVA 99-4100]


Wednesday, September 17

5:30 to 7:00, story telling from 5:45 – 6:45

JJ Bean Coffee Shop, 1209 Bidwell Street

Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJ Bean

Bring along your photos and stories to share with your neighbours.


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John Atkin lives in the architectural and heritage weeds.  As an historian and city insider, he knows the details on how this city has changed.  Here, for instance, is an excerpt by John (with Elana Zysblat, James Burton and Denise Cook) from the West End Heritage Context Statement for the West End plan. 

This section provides a summary of zoning changes in the West End as new forms of development emerged, particularly the highrise tower, and how the city planners both encouraged and responded to redevelopment.  (I’ve added the illustrations.)

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The City of Vancouver and Province of BC have given indigenous names to two of Vancouver’s more significant open spaces.

The open space on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery is šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square – ‘a place where a cultural gathering occurs.’ The plaza in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn – ‘the Walks for Reconciliation‘.

The names incorporate languages of all three First Nations people — Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh. And it’s a great idea; anyone who’s been to New Zealand knows what a difference it makes to have Maori being used (‘Kia ora most obviously) by everyone.

Which then raises the question here: are these plaza names meant to be practically applied?

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Regardless of the proposed changes in height and form decided by City of Vancouver council yesterday, or the desires of those who would like to keep Chinatown economically and culturally close to its historic character, the district is going to change — dramatically.

As I said to a few media outlets earlier in the week, change is inevitable, especially in this neighbourhood:

Especially with a new hospital in the works next door.

That’s the new replacement for St. Paul’s. When a hospital goes in, the whole ecology makes it one of the most powerful economic generators in the region. On the other side, there’s going to be whole new neighborhoods. That absolutely guarantees that Chinatown is going to go into a new phase.

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