Chinatown residents march on city hall to protest planned highrise towers
Community advocates say proposed buildings will be too tall for the district
A contentious plan to replace a parking lot in Chinatown with several high-rise towers spurred about 150 opponents to march to city hall on Friday.
The proposed development includes a building almost twice the height of existing ones in the area to be built on the site of a parking lot that sits between Second Avenue and Third Avenue S.W. just west of Centre Street.
One of the protesters, Louise Guan, says the city and developers have not done a good enough job of communicating and being transparent about the plans. The area's distinct culture must be preserved, she said.
"The history of Chinatown is over 100 years," she said. "So at this time, we would like to protect it, not just have something suddenly change."
After months of meetings, the city recently altered the guidlines for the project, calling for the it to be 60 per cent residential and to include Asian or Chinese architectural elements.
City council will debate the project on Monday.
Coun. Druh Farrell, who put forward a motion in April to delay council's decision on the project until December, says it's important to get this right.
"We want to ensure a strong Chinatown," said Farrell.
"Part of that is to ensure that we see development in Chinatown. I think... additional residential is absolutely critical for Chinatown. We don't need more office towers."
But opposition to the project remains — including concerns that the buildings will be too tall for Chinatown.
Terry Wong with the Chinatown Community Stakeholders Committee says the area needs new development but a 30-storey building is not a good fit.
"Two, 30-storey towers on Third Avenue would just dwarf the rest of Chinatown and cause significant change to our cultural distinctiveness," he said.
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Keep or kill Calgary's cycle track network? Final report is in
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Job hunt continues for many in Calgary as oil prices rise
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Lane reversal launches Monday on Memorial Drive at Edmonton Trail
With files from the CBC's Scott Dippel