Calgary’s Chinatown has largely avoided the negative public perceptions surrounding the safety of other prominent North American Chinatowns, including those in Edmonton and Vancouver.
Vancouver’s Chinatown recently received a spate of negative attention after tourists began rating that city’s district a “no-go area”
Grace Su, chairperson for the Chinatown BIA, said during the recent Chinatown Street Festival, maintaining the perception of safety was in part due to the constant communication between community leaders, merchants, residents, and the City of Calgary on issues pertaining to the district.
She said that she was thrilled that people have told the BIA that Chinatown remains safe for visitors.
“I have people coming to us saying ‘wow, you know Calgary Chinatown is probably the safest Chinatown we have seen,” Su said.
“I’m very pleased with that, and we definitely want to maintain and actually improve on that on it.”
Chinatown crime and disorder rate lower than other Calgary communities
Calgary Chinatown has maintained a relatively low crime and disorder rate compared to other areas of the Downtown Core, and surrounding communities.
The latest statistical data released by the Calgary Police Service for July, had the per 1,000 resident rate (based on the 2019 community census counts) at 8.09 calls for service from the police. Eau Claire had 13.3. The Downtown Commerical Core had 69.5, and the East Village 70.1 per 1,000 residents.
Of all the communities in the core, calls to police regarding social disorder made up the bulk of the per 1,000 residents rate.
Su said that within the community, there’s a feeling that there is a duty to report any social disorder to the police.
“We have a duty to report if there’s any social disorder, anything that we don’t feel that’s right, we have to report it whether it’s on our property or on a public property,” she said.
“We also have to work with the city to look at not only the short term management of Chinatown, but also the long term vision of Chinatown, and that’s why we have Tomorrow’s Chinatown project.”
Council committed to Chinatown
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that the Chinatown community has banded together to overcome adversity for many years as a community.
"They're very used to coming together not only as Chinese community, but with multiple other stakeholders as well. I think that's what keeps us strong."
"As a city, as a municipal government, we're incredibly committed to the health of this particular district and people."
Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong, who used to be the executive director of the Chinatown BIA, said the historical placement of Calgary's Chinatown separates it from the legacy of being placed into less desirable areas, like that of other prominent North American Chinatowns.
"Because of that we don't have some of the negative influences, and that is probably one of the saving graces we've got," he said.
"Having said that though, a lot of people in the community are very concerned about the overdose prevention site in the [Calgary Drop-in Centre], and the social social disorder, mental health and drug addiction issues.
"That is something that both Mayor Gondek and myself are working really hard with the province to ensure we understand where the province is going, how to implement it, and then what city services— particularly around public safety—we will actually put in place just strengthen this."