default image

Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings

Creating community-serving retail and micro-enterprises in Chinese society buildings


Increased development in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood creates pressure on existing retail and small businesses. Rising land and rent prices – and the general scarcity of affordable commercial spaces – threaten their sustainability while new commercial functions cater mostly to a far more affluent demographic and are detached from the community’s cultural heritage. This loss of cultural identity is particularly apparent in Chinatown and Strathcona. At the same time, there are many street-facing underutilized buildings in these areas that could provide far greater benefit to the community.

Joji Kumagai of the Strathcona BIA, Wilco van Bemmel of Walas Concepts and June Chow of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, have recently taken the initiative for a project to create community-serving retail in underutilized Chinese society buildings. Our project will create opportunities for affordable retail and micro-enterprises that serve the community, strengthen the local culture with functions that fit the community fabric and cultural identity, provide inclusive employment opportunities and improve the public realm by activating storefronts and streets.

The City of Vancouver has awarded a DTES capital grant for phase 1 of our project. In this first phase, we search for potential locations, assess retail and service gaps, build partnerships with Chinese societies  and BIAs, conduct / collect research on what type of enterprises to attract and how to support them, and raise funds. In the second phase (2018 and onwards) we secure tenants, finalize capital details, engage local residents and start repurposing one or two locations in Strathcona and Chinatown. Once these are successful, we will scale-up our concept to other Chinese society buildings as well.

Please feel free to contact project manager Wilco van Bemmel (604.368.4600, with any questions, suggestions or comments.


我們是士達孔拿商業促進會的 Joji Kumagai,Walas Concepts 公司的 Wilco van Bemmel,以及青心在唐人街的周慕慈。我們共同發起了一個項目,旨在活用更多宗親會樓房空間,開創為社區服務的零售業。我們這個項目將扎根社區,帶來平民百姓可以負擔的零售店舖,帶來微型企業的創業機會。我們的項目會使當地文化用得其所,融入街坊社區的人情味,增強文化的認同和歸屬感,提供全面的就業機會,並改善公共環境,帶來熱鬧的商鋪和街道。


我們歡迎你提出問題,建議,和意見。請你聯絡我們的項目統籌 Wilco van Bemmel (604.368.4600,。廣東話: 周慕慈 (778.866.0817,