1971 Chinatown and Gastown Designated Historic Areas

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An article entry in the category: Chronology-Milestones

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The provincial government designated Chinatown and Gastown as heritage areas through the Historic Sites Act in February 1971. This decision took place in response to successful neighbourhood movements to save these areas from demolition. In 1971, as part of the provincial-level heritage designation, official historic site boundaries were created that would later inform zoning and design guidelines.


The designation of these neighbourhoods set formal protection in place, and prevented the development of mega projects in the area. These included CPR’s 'Project 200' that would have transformed the waterfront into a car-oriented landscape defined by a freeway along the water and private tower developments. The decision also shifted development away from Chinatown and Gastown and into the surrounding neighbourhoods in downtown that could accommodate more growth. In consequence, Chinatown and Gastown could not change at the same rate as the rest of the city, and regulations were put in place that imposed character forms on these sites that were not necessarily authentic to their origins.
Related to the preservation of these neighbourhoods as historic sites, a 1974 amendment to the Vancouver Charter allowed the City to designate and preserve heritage buildings. At this time a heritage inventory took place, and zoning codes were established for Chinatown and Gastown to enhance their historic qualities. These codes established the desired character that has remained evident within these neighbourhoods.