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.

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Recent developments with this project

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.


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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Chinatown BIA

Go to the Chinatown BIA site

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

Chinatown BIA



Chinatown Revitalization Plan
Current Planning Division
Community Services
406-515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 4A8

Last modified: Tue, 01 Oct 2013 15:03:49