Once again, administration at Calgary City Hall has shown that ideology trumps all, urban design trumps common sense, and that businesses do not have an ally at City Hall.
While I am not the Councillor for Chinatown, many associations, business owners, and residents have reached out to me with their concerns, having felt their voice was not being heard.
Chinatown is one of Calgary’s oldest and culturally distinct communities, and a community that has survived a century of challenges. Yet again, the community has to fight City Hall to survive. It is not enough that the community already faces a multi-year slumped economy, ever increasing property taxes, COVID-19, and now they are being forced to choose between two development plans that will ultimately result in many 3rd Ave businesses having to close their doors. A plan, I might add, that will also waste tax dollars.
For decades, Chinatown has asked for more parking and increased pedestrian safety given the lack of alleyways and that Centre Street cuts their community in half. These issues have not been dealt with in this 3rd Avenue re-development plan, but are exacerbated.
The planners behind the 3rd Avenue re-development have already admitted to the community that no consultation has been done with the Green Line team, the developers within Chinatown who have submitted two large development permits for high-rise towers, nor taken into the account any future BRT that may come down Centre Street. In fact, they did not even consider the changes coming to the Eau Claire shopping mall or even discuss this plan with Roads. The very department that has to build it. Had they done so would have realized the community was in conversation with Roads, about possible route changes, and angle parking.
As many Calgarians who drive this avenue know, this is already a highly dense area, and parking for commercial vehicles on the street is at a premium as there is no back alley on either avenue. The plans presented to Chinatown have a lane of traffic being removed. How is this helping small business, when their delivery truck cannot park?
What this means for Calgarians is that in 1-2 years’ time, everything done for this project will have to be ripped out and all tax dollars wasted.
Administration has taken a check box approach to this consultation process and are now asking for Calgarians feedback on a plan that has failed to earn the support of the community, and may already have been decided.
The two options before Calgarians are ill conceived, lack proper consultation with key stakeholders in the area, and again, are wasting much needed tax dollars. This plan needs to be rethought in consultation with the Chinatown community. What is being forced onto the community and business owners is a choice between a not very functional plan and a wholly unfunctional plan.
This project, left as is will cause the same level of disruption that 17th Ave faced, during very tough economic times without any support or consultation on a path forward. We need to use common sense on whether or not good development policy is needed more than ever or whether we still want to continue with feel good pet projects. I know where I stand.
The City of Calgary needs to pick a lane. Do they create policies that support local businesses, and allow communities to grow with their input OR do we push social infrastructure policies that have little common sense. Build it and they will come means little for small businesses trying to hold on. I fear by the time we have this answer for 3rd Avenue, Chinatown will have closed its doors.
Cllr. Sean Chu – Ward 4