September 24, 2020

Vancouver’s Chinatown on an Afternoon ~Not What You Think

This is the way we like to think of Chinatown~a place to buy fresh groceries with wide sidewalks for stopping and looking in windows, and a place to go to bakeries or to restaurants for some of the best food in the city. But look a little closer.  Here on Pender Street the sidewalk is littered with cigarettes, newspapers and discarded clothing.

Even the Chinatown historic photo mural is defaced. Walk a little further and the area seems like a movie set of street maintenance abandonment.




While the interiors of the shops and restaurants are clean and functioning, it has a completely different feel outside on the street. The garbage bins are overflowing in the alley ways. This laneway that the two nuns are walking by smelled of urine and feces, and is littered with garbage.


During the Covid pandemic it is important to support local businesses who have provided community services for decades. But it is also important to recognize that Chinatown is an outside cultural living room and maintain it as a a place where people feel comfortable visiting and spending time in.

Would increased cleaning from city staff and the contracted staff emptying bins be sufficient? Do the laneways and sidewalks need to be washed down more frequently? What is needed to support this community and enhance it as a place to walk to and spend time in?


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  1. The DTE and Chinatown are filthy right now and the city has to do a better job of cleaning our streets and picking up the garbage. That being said, there is nothing stopping shop owners from taking a broom and sweeping up in front of their businesses, as do many other owners/renters.

  2. Pender St. is 1 short block from Hastings St. That’s why Chinatown has declined with the rise of the DTES. Likewise, Gastown to the north.
    The Chinese groceries used to have produce and products spilling onto the sidewalks – try to protect that type of display in today’s environment. Merchants have moved to safer areas like away from the DTES like Victoria Drive @ 41st and Richmond.

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