Vancouver’s Chinatown may soon have a dedicated food street, if Tony Lam of the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association gets his wish.
“Chinatown is Vancouver’s historic district and attracts a lot of tourists, but after 6 p.m. everything shuts down. People are looking for places to eat, but there are not enough of them,” says Lam.
Lam, who was instrumental in developing the popular summertime Chinatown night market, is proposing that the 100 block of Keefer Street be closed to traffic and filled with restaurants and food stalls.
A similar idea has worked well in Richmond where Alexandra Road is packed with more than 200 restaurants offering a variety of Asian cuisine. Although traffic is still permitted in Alexandra Road, it become a big tourist magnet according to Michelle Dunn of Richmond Tourism.
One of the appeals of the area, said Dunn, is that it was not created as a tourism product, but developed organically from within the community.
“First and foremost it is popular with the locals as it was created as a local hangout … as word spread it began bringing in visitors looking for an authentic cultural experience,” she said.
Lam said that business and community associations were trying to do the same thing in Vancouver â€” filling a gap in services the area. “We need more restaurants in Chinatown to draw visitors and engage local businesses,” he said.
The plan would work well in conjunction with the city-backed Chinatown economic revitalization plan, which includes highrise buildings, said Lam.