By Vancouver Sun |
In Philadelphia, community organizers Deborah Wei and Jenny Zhang are part of a growing opposition to a proposal for a new basketball arena for the 76ers NBA team that would sit next to the city’s Chinatown district.
“We’ve been fighting for Chinatown for a long time and this is definitely the hardest fight we’ve ever had,” said Wei, describing it as a battle between a billion dollar-plus project and the survival of historic cultural businesses and affordable housing.
Wei and Zhang are in Vancouver to learn how other Chinatowns in North America are being affected by various plans to build condos, stadiums and shopping malls, and what strategies have been developed to “fight against people who have more money than they know what to do with.”
More than 50 advocates, volunteers and academics like Wei and Zhang from 18 Chinatown communities across Canada and the U.S. are participating in the inaugural U.S.-Canada Chinatown Solidarity Conference being hosted by the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation this week.
“We will engage in thought-provoking discussions, sharing experiences and explore innovative ideas on the best way to revitalize and preserve the history of our cherished neighbourhoods,” foundation chair Carol Lee said.
U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen, Canada’s Minister of International Trade Mary Ng, and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, were also on hand Tuesday to encourage participants to discuss their common challenges from economic hardship and anti-Asian racism to concerns about public safety and the pressures of development.