Chinatown · History · urban design · Vancouver

The Neighbourhood That Saved Vancouver

SPOTA group
SPOTA members in front of the Jackson Avenue office, 1972

Today, Vancouver is praised for its record of good planning and livability, but it wasn’t always so. In the 1950s planners and politicians saw the east side neighbourhoods as a threat to the well being of the city and they set out to wipe out the blight.

From the 1957 redevelopment report: “…delay is expensive. The time to act is before the infection spreads and the situation becomes an emergency.”

Homes were expropriated, residents were shuffled about and the death of the Strathcona community seemed inevitable. However, residents wary of a redevelopment plan which provided less housing than the existing neighbourhood, got together to fight not just City Hall, but three levels of government to save their community, and ultimately, Vancouver.

In 1968, the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) was launched and two years later the final phase of urban renewal was dead. In its place a community driven rehabilitation program, infill housing and numerous neighbourhood improvements ushered in an era of local and consultative planning which has in large part created the city of today.

On April 8, 2017, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC honours SPOTA and their pioneering work at the society’s annual banquet to be held at Floata Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.

“We are proud to acknowledge and celebrate SPOTA’s vision and successful fight to save the neighbourhood, pilot Canada’s first neighbourhood improvement program, and build affordable family housing” said CCHSBC President John Atkin. “SPOTA’s legacy goes much beyond Strathcona and Vancouver. The organization changed national urban policies and entrenched citizen participation” as a requirement in urban planning”.

The evening will reflect upon the great work that SPOTA has done, honour those that were involved in the fight and include great food, raffle prizes, and a video feature from the winner of the Ed Wickberg Undergraduate Prize – Christy Fong.

Date & Time: April 8, 2017, 6pm to 9pm*
Location: Floata Seafood Restaurant, Chinatown Plaza, Keefer St.

Tickets Here

*The society’s AGM is at 5:00PM, members can attend without coming to the banquet


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