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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Street of T’ongs: planning in Vancouver’s Chinatown Young, Raymond Edgar


Street of T'ongs is not so much a study as it is a digest, descriptive in nature, of the historical, social, and physical facets of Vancouver's Chinatown. It does not have as its purpose the proving or disproving of a selected hypothesis; rather, it attempts for the first time within both physical and social planning spheres of interest to provide a comprehensive guide to the practical planner seeking information and general data on a unique ethno-spatial community in the city. Numerous sources have been culled for relevant material which has been ordered and put together to develop a composite picture of Vancouver's Chinatown. Knowledge of many of the present problems and trends discussed, grows out of personal experience in living and working in the Chinatown area. While no formal interviews were conducted, hundreds of conversations over two years and numerous meetings with residents and professionals in the area have, provided perhaps a more balanced and broader view of local concerns and issues. This thesis shows that Vancouver's Chinatown has reached a critical stage of change in its internal social structure. Many of the pressures and issues causing in part or just concurrent with this change are, of interest and within the jurisdiction of planners at the municipal level. The enclave is opening and being shaped by internal and external forces — no longer is it as totally self-contained, sheltered, or as resistant to intrusion as has been generally understood. If planners are to responsibly and realistically help shape this change, their actions must stem from a broad base of community understanding, and community support, as well as technical expertise, that can be applied sensitively, in a manner compatible with community aspirations and civic needs.

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