$1.8 million in federal funding to improve Vancouver Chinatown attractions

Feb 13 2023, 9:29 pm

A new infusion of funding from the federal government is intended to help revitalize and improve cultural attractions and institutions found within Vancouver’s historic Chinatown district.

Federal agency Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) announced this morning it has allocated $1.8 million from its Tourism Relief Fund to support initiatives under the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation.

This includes setting aside a total of $1.3 million for the longtime attractions of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Gardens and the Chinese Cultural Centre, and the foundation’s recently established Chinatown Storytelling Centre. The funding will be used for improvements such as new lighting and signage, as well as various other upgrades.

The remaining $500,000 will be used to significantly expand the Light Up Chinatown Festival, which is held each year for two days in September to celebrate Vancouver’s Chinatown community. The festival attracted about 10,000 visitors to the district in 2022, effectively supporting restaurants and shops, and providing a gathering opportunity for the community. The investment will help the foundation introduce new programs and infrastructure for the festival starting this year.

vancouver chinatown storytelling centre

Inside the new Vancouver Chinatown Storytelling Centre. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Light Up Chinatown!

Light Up Chinatown festival in Vancouver’s Chinatown. (Vancouver Chinatown Foundation)

“Chinatown is home to many legacy and new businesses and organizations that rely on tourism as an economic driver. Through infrastructure and cultural landmark enhancements and celebrations of our Chinese Canadian identities, the investment from PacifiCan will reignite a once thriving tourism industry in this iconic neighbourhood,” said Carol Lee, chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, in a statement.

Vancouver South MP Harjit Sajjan, who is the federal minister responsible for PacifiCan, added, “Vancouver’s historic Chinatown is a symbol of strength, spirit and resiliency. That is why investing in this neighbourhood is so impactful. Supporting the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation to revitalize this beloved cultural jewel will ensure that Chinatown continues to be a reminder of the contributions of Chinese Canadians, a local economic engine, and an iconic attraction for residents and visitors for generations to come.”

Over the past year, there has been renewed attention on Chinatown, which has seen a significant increase in vandalism, crime, and public disorder from the spillover of the Downtown Eastside’s social issues, exacerbated by the pandemic. This includes continuous acts of property damage against Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Gardens and the Chinese Cultural Centre.

Later this year, the Rennie headquarters office and museum in the historic Wing Sang Building, just across the street from the gardens and cultural centre, will reopen as the new Chinese Canadian Museum. This project has received nearly $40 million in funding from the provincial government to date.

In 2022, PacifiCan also allocated $10 million each to the non-profit organizations behind the Pacific National Exhibition (under its Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative) and Science World (under the same Tourism Relief Fund) towards performing major upgrades to their facilities and infrastructure.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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