Developers have changed the face of Canada’s western metropolis. Chinatown is resisting
THE smell of incense fills the narrow stairway of the Yue-Shan Society building, a social club for people with roots in Panyu, part of Guangzhou, a city in southern China. Barely audible is the tinking of a ping-pong ball on a table. On the first floor two games of mah-jong are being played, watched by a handful of onlookers. East Pender Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown is home to many such clubs for clans or benevolent associations. Melody Ma, a spectator in her 20s, recalls: “When I was small my grandma would bring me to one of these places.”
Vancouver Real Estate News, Market Updates, Insider Tips, Stats, & Analysis
The gently sloping streets where Ms Ma grew up have not changed much. Vancouver has had a frantic property market since it hosted the winter Olympics in 2010. The downtown area is forested with new condominiums. Prices have risen by nearly 60% in the past three years, partly because of demand from non-resident Chinese investors. But until recently developers have largely shunned Chinatown. It is part of an area called Downtown Eastside, a district of rundown buildings, methadone clinics and rough sleepers. Many Chinatown residents are old and poor.