Homelessness is a problem plaguing Montreal’s Chinatown. The same goes for real estate speculation and aging infrastructure, which endanger the future of the region.
But recent research examining Chinatown development opportunities reveals that potential solutions are within reach.
Family a*sociations could be one of the keys to preserving the future of this emblematic district, according to a study carried out by the IRIS research institute.
Researchers Colin Pratte and Joelle Gélinas discovered that a*sociations play an important role in the social economy of Chinatown.
They act as community centers.
“The a*sociation is about helping people, helping early immigrants,” said Jimmy Chang of the Chang Association, founded by his family in the late 1800s.
For Walter Chiyan Tom, who represents several family a*sociations in the neighborhood, they are essential.
“They are the guardians of Chinatown; they’ve been around since the early 1900s,” Tom said.
But those who run the a*sociations are getting older and all activities are financed out of their own pockets. They need help from the government.
“For example, even though they operate as community-based nonprofit organizations, they have never been able to obtain tax-exempt status,” Tom said.
Researchers also found that in other North American Chinatowns, land trusts have helped counter real estate speculation.
Community groups come together to purchase available buildings, keeping them out of the hands of developers.
The government recently granted heritage status to Chinatown and implemented a height restriction for new buildings – all measures welcomed by the community.
But the study reveals that these measures must be accompanied by legal agreements with developers so that the projects have benefits for the local community.
This is the hope of the Wings factory, which recently changed hands.
The city says it wants to help.
This involves acquiring real estate to transform it into social housing, increasing community services and supporting businesses.
“What we need from other levels of government are investments,” said the Montreal city councilor. » declared Robert Beaudry.
A forum, organized by the Quebec-based non-profit JIA Foundation, will take place over the next two weeks to further discuss solutions to save Montreal’s Chinatown.
The report is clear: any effort must involve the community.
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