Futures of Historic Chinatowns: Heritage Policies and Preservationist Movements in Canada

November 22, 2021 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
York Centre for Asian Research

With Kimberley Wong, Howard Tam and Jessica Chen
Moderated by Corals Zheng

Many Chinatowns in Canada are declining, for better or worse. As Chinatowns are part of the urban fabric of many cities and memories, this virtual public event is intended to celebrate this space as well as interrogating it critically.

This webinar will bring together perspectives from Chinatowns in three cities—Vancouver, Montréal and Toronto—as told from planners and activists engaging with the space.

We seek to raise public awareness of the on-going “SaveChinatown” movement across Canada, and explore the relationships between the preservationist movement of historic Chinatowns in Canada, intangible heritage, and urban and regional development.

This event is organized by Tracy Ying Zhang (Communication & Media Studies) and Corals Zheng (ERA Architects). This YCAR event is co-presented by the City Institute.


Kimberley Wong 黄壯慈 (she/they) is a queer Chinese Canadian femme whose work mirrors the intersections of her identity. They have been recognized by the city and the province for their accomplishments in climate justice and multiculturalism, and their work continues to evolve beyond this. Since 2019, Kimberley has served as the Co-Chair of the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group. She also works as the Race and Equity Program Manager with the local non-profit, hua foundation, and is an elected Organizing Committee member of OneCity Vancouver. Kimberley’s work is deepened through their experiences of living as a renter, a cyclist, and of being a fifth generation descendant of ancestors who have long histories organizing for equity across communities on this land.

Howard Tam, MSc. (Urban Planning), BASc. is a Strategic Designer and Urban Planner. He is the CEO of ThinkFresh Group, a City Building consultancy based in Toronto responsible for such projects as the Dragon Centre Stories Commemoration Project and the upcoming Honest Ed’s Alley Micro-Retail Market. Lately, you’ll find him helping to think about Street Art for the City of Toronto and designing experiences for ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art. Howard is the proud founder and Foodie-in-Chief of EatMoreScarborough.com tours that offers food tours in and around Scarborough, Ontario, Canada’s amazingly diverse food scene. He has also lectured about cities and design at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Prior to founding the ThinkFresh Group, Howard worked as a Policy Advisor and Business Analyst with the Government of Ontario, Canada. He holds a Master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Hong Kong and a Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto.

Jessica Chen is a Canadian city planning professional currently based in Montréal. Her career focus has been social inclusion, tackling issues of gentrification, heritage conservation and affordable housing.  She founded her consulting practice Wabi Sabi Planning Lab in 2013 after her 12-year planning career with the City of Vancouver, examining how community-owned assets, including housing and heritage buildings, help shape a more resilient urban landscape and city economy.  She is currently working on Design for Inclusion initiative, in collaboration with Inge Rocker of AIR Studio, to innovate design processes toward new inclusive housing models. She is also involved in the planning and community organizing in both Vancouver and Montreal’s Chinatowns to safeguard their cultural heritage.

Posted Under

About York Centre for Asian Research