Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April-May 2024 • Circulation 5000


New Chinatown Gate to Span 97th Street

Community input and collaboration leads to a positive end to a controversial chapter.

A conceptual rendering of the new Chinatown Gate from the City of Edmonton.

Edmonton’s new Chinatown Gate is a go. Underground footings have been installed at the new location, over 97th Street at 101A Avenue. As well, the City has installed a dedicated area to showcase the gate, which includes landscaping.

City Council’s 2023-26 budget has allocated $6 million for the project, and designers in Harbin, Edmonton’s sister city, have prepared a conceptual design. A refined and engineered design will be provided in the future. “The best gate designers in the world are in China,” says Brett Latchford, Director of Chinatown Recovery, City of Edmonton.

Michael Lee, Vice Chair of the Chinese Benevolent Association Board, says it would have been ideal to install the new gate nearer to the area further north, where most of Chinatown is now established. But 97th Street close to Jasper Avenue is “a becoming site,” Lee says, since Edmonton’s Chinatown began in the late 19th century at and around the area where Canada Place is now.

Plans are to reflect the style of the old gate, constructed in 1987, which was a gift from Harbin. This “Harbin Gate,” located on 102nd Avenue just east of 97th Street, was dismantled in 2017 to make way for construction of the Valley Line LRT. It cannot be reinstalled in the new location because it is not wide enough. One of the six lanes of traffic on 97th Street is being closed, but the old gate still cannot span the five remaining lanes.

The timelines are not definite, but project participants expect work to be completed within the next couple of years.

This whole process has been controversial (see the story “Harbin Gate Makes Way for LRT in the April 2017 issue of Boyle McCauley News). Hon Leong, President of the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society, says that at that time there was a lack of communication and consultation with the Chinese community.

But now, Lee says, the Chinese Benevolent Association is “very pleased that the City is considering our input.”

The installation of a new gate is just one part of a broad strategy for the City and Chinatown businesses and residents to work collectively on several fronts (see sidebar: Five Pillars). The City of Edmonton’s website states, “While the City played a role in the development of the strategy, it is community-driven and it will be collaborative community-based partnerships that drive the success of the strategy.”

This good news is what Leong describes as “an end to this whole chapter.”

Five Pillars

The Chinatown Strategy is planned around these five pillars:

  1. Improve sense of safety and security
  2. Focused economic development
  3. Governance and community leadership network
  4. Celebrate Chinatown as a destination
  5. Enhance built form and landmarks

From the Chinatown section of the City of Edmonton’s website.

Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.

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