News / Calgary

New Calgary Chinatown development plan sought

Farrell wants update of the area, while celebrating the culture

Coun. Druh Farrell wants a new redevelopment plan for Calgary's Chinatown. She will put a notice of motion on the matter to Calgary City Council on Monday.

Jeremy Simes / For Metro

Coun. Druh Farrell wants a new redevelopment plan for Calgary's Chinatown. She will put a notice of motion on the matter to Calgary City Council on Monday.

Lack of an updated redevelopment plan is holding Chinatown back, said area councillor Druh Farrell, and she’s now hoping the city will get started on a rethink of the historic area.

Farrell will present her notice of motion at today’s city council meeting, with an eye on reshaping the cultural gem, which covers from Riverfront Avenue on its north side, to 4 Avenue on the south, and between 1 Street SE and 1 Street SW.

Calgary’s Chinatown, more than 100 years old and fourth largest in Canada, last had a redevelopment plan put in place in 1989 – one of the first ever in Calgary. With the motion, Farrell wants the city to create a new one.

“So much has changed both inside and out of Chinatown,” she said, noting that zoning and general urban development principles have evolved.

“The downtown has changed, the market has changed. So how do we encourage development in Chinatown that ensures it adds to the vibrancy and cultural depth of that community?”

One of the first steps was the formation of the area’s first Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) in November 2015.

Terry Wong, media spokesperson for the Chinatown District BRZ, said there’s definitely ways Chinatown could improve with a new redevelopment plan.

“We definitely have recovered (from the flood). We haven’t gotten to the place we want to be. We still have retail space – particularly on 2 Avenue – that’s still vacant.”

Farrell’s hoping they can build off the initial success of the BRZ to draw more people into the area, for both retail and residential opportunities.

“Chinatowns across North America are under threat,” she said.

“It’s unique in Calgary. It’s a fascinating neighbourhood with lots of assets. We don’t do a great job of promoting them.”

Better street-level activity, laneway redevelopment, residential additions and a plan to attract Calgarians from the surrounding communities of Crescent Heights and Eau Claire for more than just a lunch during the work week are just a few of the things Farrell would like to see changed.

The scope of the new Chinatown redevelopment plan would come back to council in the fall of 2016.