Council approves extra $250k in funds for Chinatown revitalization

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Calgary council approved a request for $250,000 in additional funds for a revitalization program in Chinatown that includes the renaming of James Short Park.

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The one-time budget increase was recommended to council by the city’s executive committee in April and was carried in the consent agenda at Tuesday’s combined council meeting. The scope of Tomorrow’s Chinatown program was expanded by the previous council in 2020 without new resourcing or funding.

Tomorrow’s Chinatown is set to complete a number of projects this year on Chinatown’s cultural plan, the area redevelopment plan, and the renaming of James Short Park and Parkade. The renaming process, development of a streetscape concept plan for Centre Street S. and a vibrancy project on 3rd Avenue were each added to the mandate for the program in 2020.

“Tomorrow’s Chinatown is a very significant initiative for us, not only to serve and protect the community, history and heritage but also to recognize, whether it be in Chinatown or up in the northeast or any other part, the cultural heritage of Calgary is important,” said Coun. Terry Wong on Tuesday.

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“We want to tell the stories of these different multicultural communities and support them by building the right infrastructure that they can then build their communities around.”

The Ward 7 councillor said the additional funding is necessary for the program to finish the projects on its plate.

City administrators explained to the executive committee in April that the expanded scope was not fully understood when the budget for the program was discussed and the funds would go towards completing the remaining projects.

The completed projects should be presented to the infrastructure and planning committee no later than the fourth quarter of this year. The projects are meant to help direct the neighbourhood’s future growth and planning policy.

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This is also when the city can also expect an announcement on the name change of James Short Park and Parkade, located at 115 4 Ave S.W.

Council added the name change to Tomorrow’s Chinatown’s mandate in the summer of 2020, during the height of the anti-racism and Black Lives Matter rallies downtown. The name is being changed because of its namesake’s history of anti-Chinese racism.

Short was a local lawyer and school principal, but in 1910, he helped lead an effort to stop Chinese Calgarians from establishing the Chinatown that still stands today, just south of the Bow River.
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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