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City’s Chinese-Canadian community looks to increase visual presence

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
July 29th, 2016

Representatives of the Chinese-Canadian community are looking to raise the profile of their historic contribution to the city.

Cameron Mah of the Chinese-Canadian Community, Claus Lao Schunke (project coordinator) and Hugues Lincort (designer/builder) proposed the creation of a symbolic Chinese gazebo over the existing commemorative Chinatown rock located at the corner Vernon and Hall streets.

The Commemorative Chinatown Rock was dedicated in 2011 at the corner of Hall and Vernon — an entrance to Chinatown — as the first physical acknowledgement of the direct historical contribution by local Chinese to the development of the city.

When Chinatown Week was officially declared by the city, 700 red Chinese paper-lanterns were hung throughout downtown.

Since then two consuls general of the People’s Republic of China have visited Nelson specifically to view the rock.

Heritage BC officially acknowledged the significant historical contribution of Nelson’s Chinatown to the development of B.C. as a whole, entering the district into the B.C. Register of Historical Places and Ottawa’s National Register of Historical Places.

The privately funded wooden gazebo — completely open on all sides — would consist of a “floating” roof over four posts.

The gazebo would include the head of a dragon — the guardian over the city’s Chinese heritage — with its roof covered in a dragon’s scales, and the rock as the precious “pearl of wisdom” carried in the dragon’s mouth.

At the same time the “floating” roof symbolizes a bird in flight — the Phoenix, feminine counter-part of the male dragon.

Still somewhat vague plans envision the dragon’s body eventually winding down the northwest side of the 300 block of Hall in various forms, Schunke wrote in a letter to council.

The gazebo, when completed, would be a visual magnet at the intersection, he said.

“With numbers of tourists from China to B.C. consistently increasing: it’s clear that Nelson — with its distinctive Chinese heritage — can and will welcome many of them,” Schunke wrote.

The Chinese-Canadian community also requested:

  • four square concrete bases for the gazebo’s posts are positioned as determined between Hugues Lincourt and public works/parks;
  • the gazebo’s roof is transported by the city from Lincourt’s address to the Rock’s location;
  •  the city provide a light for the Rock inside the gazebo;
  • the city plants four additional azaleas behind the gazebo;
  •  the city replaces the initially requested magnolia with a “standard” magnolia: this being important within a Chinese context;
  • public works/parks provides continuing overall maintenance of the gazebo’s “island” in the bulb out.

Taking it to the streets

The province offered the city a helping hand and it has been accepted.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has extended an offer to the city to add segments of Granite Road to the “H3A Taghum Br to Playmor, H31 Balfour to Ainsworth and Local Area Side Roads” paving project currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Highways.

The province is undertaking a $9.8 million paving project involving Highway 3A, approximately 14 kilometres from Taghum Bridge to the Hwy 3A/6 junction, and a piece 14.5 km north of the Balfour Ferry Landing to the Village of Ainsworth.

The project also includes resurfacing local side roads: Procter Road; Whitewater Road; Blewett Road; Bedford Road and Granite Road.

The offer is to bring 2.55 km of the city-owned Granite Road into the contract so the city can have the road paved and benefit from MOTI pricing.

The cost of paving 2.55 kilometres of Granite Road has been estimated at $113,000, while the balance of the city’s bridges reserve fund is $400,000 — resulting in a final balance of $287,000.

The cost the province is charging the city is one third of the price that the city would pay for similar work.

And then there were (hopefully) three

The city’s civic theatre is looking to triple its output of screens in the coming years, according to the group’s executive director.

Eleanor Stacey told city council in an update last week that the Nelson Civic Theatre Society is looking to add two more screens to its current roster of one.

A campaign is being launched to help fundraise for the work needed to achieve the additional screens.

Stacey said it will take almost $3 million in grants, fundraising and community contributions, corporate and individual support in order to attain the financial wherewithal to build the screens.

In addition to design input from the theatre’s partners and end users, Stacey said collaboration with the city will be needed for permits, issue management, lease provisions and support for the project

The society will launch a “public face to our capital campaign, leading us to the point when we can take the next steps in our development project,” Stacey said about what is coming in the next year.

Categories: General

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