The Week — July 14

Fan Tan Alley faces heritage fiasco, Cool Aid finds a new home, the B.C. Tories throw gas onto popularity fire

The store owners of Fan Tan Alley locked alley gates last Wednesday to protest alterations one owner is considering, which would change the alley’s look and historic value.

Fan Tan Alley faces heritage fiasco

Fan Tan Alley could be on the precipice of Victoria’s next heritage alteration war — at least if residents and store owners have anything to do with it.

After months of heated debate, the store owners of Fan Tan Alley locked alley gates periodically on Wednesday, July 6, in an effort to educate the public on what could become a drastic change to Canada’s last and largest intact Chinatown.

“The main thing I’m hearing from tourists and even locals is, ‘Why weren’t we told anything about this?’” says Anita Rydygier, owner of Eco Design Gallery in the alley. “It appears the city doesn’t think it’s important to include the public on this one, but we’ve received signatures from all over the world pleading for the alley to remain intact.”

Months ago, architect and former Vic mayor Alan Lowe made an application on behalf of the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Benevolent Association for a heritage alteration permit to make a two-storey addition to two of the association’s buildings on the west side of Fan Tan Alley, and a one-storey addition on the adjacent building at Pandora Avenue. The catch comes in the fact that no rezoning is required for the project, which meets existing guidelines and has been reviewed by the city’s Heritage Advisory Committee — and a public hearing is not required.

Thanks to the almost 1,000 petition signatures gathered by shop owner efforts, though, the city has thrown the project back to the Heritage Advisory Committee for another look, and the committee is expected to give its final say to the city on Wednesday, July 13. No word yet on whether or not any further public meetings will be held on the matter, but Rydygier encourages people to keep turning in signatures and letters to city council.

“The building in question has been left in disrepair, and very little has happened to that building for the last 50 years if not before that, so every last feature on that property is how it was,” says Rydygier. “It may be privately owned, but this is a national heritage site that belongs to the people. Canadians deserve a say on this one.”

Cool Aid finds a home

A huge relief for Cool Aid this week when the Resources, Education, Employment and Support (REES) Program set up a new nesting ground.

The program lost its home weeks ago when the ceiling of the old building collapsed. Luckily, the support program for people managing mental health and addiction challenges has been relocated right next to good old Monday, at 823 Broughton — the other half of the old C-FAX building.

The building is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, but rent will work out to be about the same, says REES coordinator Lori Ferguson. “People like it. It’s a really warm and inviting space, and no one’s complaining about the extra five-minute walk,” she says.

The program is still looking for donations of computers and printers to replace the damaged ones. To donate, contact Alan Rycroft at 250-414-4781.

Axing up tory popularity

For those summer travellers who are tired of wearing down their vacation funds on gas prices, the BC Conservative Party — that’s right, we have one — is trying to win public support by promoting their new campaign and website, AxeTheGasTax.ca.

“[This] is just the first part of our campaign to oppose this outrageous gas tax,” says leader John Cummins. “The last thing drivers need is higher taxes when they fill up their car or truck. The BC Conservatives are the only party that opposes this tax.”

Little wonder then, the Conservatives are the only party that environmentally conscious B.C. opposes. M

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