The city decision this week to amend zoning guidelines to protect Chinatown’s unique qualities against rising land values, speculation and development focused mostly on restricting building heights and lot sizes.

But behind this, there has already been efforts to do more than just conserve the physical shape of the historical area.

The city has assembled a so-called Chinatown transformation team, naming four of the seven positions.

So far, it will include two city planning veterans: Baldwin Wong, who will oversee implementing policy and community development, and Helen Ma, who will look after arts, culture and community services.

Helen Lee, a heritage planner who chaired the Vancouver Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee and trained at Hong Kong University’s architectural conservation program, will be responsible for legacy actions and policies. There is one clerical position that has been filled and the other three positions will be announced by August, according to the city.

The team’s “main task will be to create a plan for the whole area that actually (focuses) on the living heritage and culture. That will include the legacy businesses, but perhaps more importantly, it will be about housing and land use and business mix and also creating the right kinds of economic vitality in terms of sustainable cultural education and tourism,” said a University of B.C. history professor, Henry Yu.

It will also prepare to apply for designation of Chinatown as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As part of this, there will be “provisions for the concept of a ‘special economic zone’ linked to culturally appropriate businesses, legacy businesses and community serving enterprises in the area,” according to a memo released by city planners just before council passed the height and lot size amendments on Tuesday.

The transformation team consists of bilingual Cantonese and English speakers with the specific experience and ability to connect with seniors, clan …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Business


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