Chinatown revitalization


The purpose of the Chinatown revitalization project is to preserve Chinatown's unique heritage while bringing new life to the community.

The Chinatown district is rich with history and is an important part of Vancouver's cultural identity.

Over the years, Chinatown has dealt with community conflicts, economic hardships, shifting population trends, and the decline of nearby areas.

The Chinatown revitalization plan aims to bring community members together to address issues such as economic growth and heritage retention.

Related projects

Advisory boards and committees

Read about this project in-depth

Recent developments with this project

Deadline extended for Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program to February 27

January 19, 2015 – We are accepting applications for the second round of matching grants and have extended the application deadline to Friday, February 27, 2015.

Strategic support for the Chinatown society heritage buildings

January 2015 – In response to Council direction on July 9, 2014, we are seeking a consultant team to give strategic support for rehabilitating the heritage society buildings, to compliment the Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program. The consultant team will conduct technical studies of the society heritage buildings in Chinatown, and prepare a business case and partner-development package for the buildings' rehabilitation. The team's studies will be done in collaboration with the Chinatown Society Heritage Building Association under the direction of the chief housing officer.

$1.16 million awarded for Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grants

December 17, 2014 – Council approved $1.16 million in matching grants to 17 Chinese family clan and benevolent societies for critical capital upgrades to society-owned buildings in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. Of the 17 applications received, 10 societies provide 407 affordable rental housing units with monthly rents from $175 to $670. These grants support and strengthen the societies, which continue to play a vital role in protecting affordable housing and preserving Chinatown's unique character, cultural identity, and heritage.

Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program now accepting applications

October 3, 2014 – Applications are open for the Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program. The first grant intake closes on Friday, October 31 and the second on Friday, January 30, 2015. Societies may apply for a new grant each intake if the proposed project is for a new, distinct scope of work.

Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program – a DTES Plan Quick Start to support community heritage initiatives

July 9, 2014 – A new grant program and strategic support for critical upgrades to preserve and protect buildings owned by Chinese Family Clan and Benevolent Societies has been approved by Vancouver City Council.

The grant program will provide matching grants for capital maintenance and upgrades to buildings owned by the societies. Heritage buildings and those with affordable and social housing units will get priority consideration. A consultant study will also be completed in partnership with the Chinatown Society Heritage Building Association.

Further information on how to apply will be available in the fall.

華裔社團建築物等額補貼計劃 — 為支持社區傳統專案而設的市中心東端計劃「快速起步」措施

2014年7月9日 — 溫哥華市議會通過了一項新的補貼計劃及策略性的支援措施,協助保存及保護華裔宗親及會館組織所擁有的建築物。

這項補貼計劃會為上述社團名下建築物的基本維護及改善工程提供等額補貼。史蹟建築物以及提供可負擔房屋及公共房屋單位的建築物,將會獲得優先考慮。另外,市府亦會與「華埠團體傳統樓協會」 (Chinatown Society Heritage Building Association) 合作完成一項諮詢研究。


Council approves the Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan and Economic Revitalization Strategy

July 25 2012 – Council approved the Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan and the three-year Economic Revitalization Strategy. The Plan is the result of over a decade of community work to encourage private sector investment in the community and improve conditions for those who live, work, and visit the area. The Economic Strategy builds on learnings from the plan and includes short- and medium-term actions to support business retention, expansion, and attraction.

National Historic Site designation

Fall 2011 – Chinatown received the National Historic Site designation from the Minister of Environment. This designation raises the public's awareness of Chinatown and its rich cultural history.

Public involvement on economic action plan

June 29, 2011 – A public workshop was held to launch a short-term economic action plan development process and to get input from local residents, businesses, and the public.


Approved report, plan, and strategy

Past reports and presentations

Chinese society buildings resources

Council reports and decisions

Public engagement workshop on Chinatown economic revitalization action plan (June 29, 2011)

Studies and vision to inform revitalization


Development of the Chinatown economic revitalization strategy is underway. Here are the objectives that are guiding the work:

  • Identify short term economic revitalization actions, with a focus on business attraction, retention, and expansion
  • Support the work of existing business organizations in promoting Chinatown
  • Engage the community in the development and implementation of the plan
  • Generate a sense of excitement to help market Chinatown to customers and investors

Revitalization strategy

In 2010, the City started a revitalization strategy with a focus on business attraction, retention, and expansion in Chinatown. The strategy involved using the resources and expertise of the Vancouver Economic Commission, the Chinatown BIA, and the Chinatown Merchants Association.

The City is currently on step three of the three-step revitalization strategy. Here are the details on the City's progress with the strategy:

Step 3: Community presentation and council report

The City is working with the Chinatown community to find community champions and partners for the implementation of the plan.

Step 2: Consultants' report and draft action plan - Completed

The City hired consultants AECOM to conduct research, consult with the community, and develop a strategy for Chinatown's revitalization.

In December 2011, AECOM presented their findings to the Vancouver Economic Commission, the Chinatown BIA, and the Chinatown Merchants Association.

In November 2011, AECOM submitted their final report on recommended strategies for economic revitalization in Chinatown.

Step 1: Research and consultation - Completed

The City worked with San Francisco based consultants, AECOM to conduct research, consult with the community, and develop a proposal and implementation strategy. Some of the key activities during the research and consultation phase included:

  • Surveying local businesses (getting responses from 77 businesses)
  • Holding a public workshop to get input from local residents, businesses, and the public
  • Interviewing key stakeholders and community organizations

Map of the revitalization area in Chinatown

The City of Vancouver plans to guide development and preservation in this area of Chinatown. 

Work leading up to this project

The Vancouver Chinatown revitalization committee was formed in 2001. The purpose of the committee is to encourage the community and the City to work together to develop short term and long term strategies.

Here are some of the key milestones since 2001: 

  • In 2002 the Chinatown Vision was adopted by Council as a blueprint for Chinatown's revitalization
  • In March 2004 City staff developed a five step plan Chinatown community plan that encourages private sector investment to improve conditions for those who live, work, and visit the area
  • In December 2006 a progress report was presented to Council giving an update on the status and development trends of the revitalization plan

Past projects

Retail and marketing

Chinatown has many commercial, cultural, and tourism services. One of the Chinatown economic revitalization goals is to expand its retail business income.

With funding from the Vancouver Agreement and help from the City, the Chinatown Merchants Association and the Chinatown BIA have launched a series of marketing initiatives. These marketing initiatives include:

  • Creating a logo to strengthen Chinatown's marketing identity
  • A bilingual campaign to reposition Chinatown as friendly to English and Chinese customers
  • A three year marketing plan to guide the local business community


Chinatown is an important commercial and cultural destination for local residents and international tourists. Attracting more local, regional, and international visitors to the area is important to Chinatown's economic revitalization.

Tourism promotion initiatives include:

  • Shopping tours for residents from International Village, City Gate, and Strathcona
  • A resource kit designed for tour guides, to describe the products and services offered in Chinatown

Residential intensification

Residential intensification is a key goal of the Chinatown revitalization plan. New residents will create more demand for commercial services, creating business opportunities and filling empty storefronts.

Attracting new residents to Chinatown improves public safety and encourages conservation of heritage buildings by filling vacancies.

History of the area

In the 1880s Chinatown began to develop in False Creek around Carrall and Pender Streets. The community was established by Chinese immigrants who moved to Vancouver to work as industrial labourers. As the community grew, Chinatown became one of Vancouver's first commercial and residential districts.

In the 1950s the City considered running a highway through Chinatown. Vancouver residents wanted to preserve the area and avoid a highway. This strong negative reaction from the public convinced the City to abandon the idea.

In 1971 the provincial government designated both Gastown and Chinatown as historic districts.

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More ways to contact us

Apply for funding to preserve your Chinese society building 申請資金保存華裔社團建築物

Chinese society buildings in Chinatown on Pender Street

Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grants

Supports critical capital upgrades to buildings owned by Chinese family clan and benevolent societies in Chinatown or the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Helps the societies continue contributing to the cultural legacy and overall revitalization of Chinatown.

Chinatown BIA

Go to the Chinatown BIA site

Find more information on Vancouver's Chinatown Business Improvement Area.

Chinatown BIA



Chinatown Revitalization Plan
Vancouver - Downtown Division
Planning and Development Services
Main floor - 515 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 4A8

Last modified: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:09:29