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Calgary’s Chinatown development plan will take culture into account

As Chinatown is redeveloped, the City of Calgary is looking to pay special attention to the area’s unique culture.

The latest update on the area redevelopment plan for Chinatown was presented to the city’s planning and urban development committee on Thursday.

In the report – three options for moving forward were presented. One was to maintain the status quo of using the old area redevelopment plan. The second was to make minor amendments to the ARP to include character and historical context.

The final option – and the one supported by both Chinatown proponents and the city committee – was to move forward on a culturally-based local area plan.

Terry Wong, the executive director of the Chinatown Business Association, said the third option was really the only option for them.

“We know the status quo is out of date and it doesn’t work for us,” said Wong.

He said the culturally-based local area plan will take the Chinatown culture into consideration when design plans are being made.

While other plans would talk about things like building height or density, Wong said the Chinatown plan will also make sure businesses are culturally appropriate.

The plan is also the most expensive option, because it requires much more consulting and engagement.

In the report delivered to council, the budget ask is expected to be upwards of $1 million.

Area councillor Druh Farrell said council hasn’t yet been briefed on the possibilities of planning culturally for an area, but she is looking forward to the opportunity.

“We might make some mistakes at it,” said Farrell.

“It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be challenging, but I’m excited about the opportunity to be truly creative in our planning process and plan culturally.”

While the committee accepted administration’s recommendations, the decision still needs the approval of the entire city council at an upcoming meeting.