Share this page Print

Tomorrow's Chinatown

Chinatown is one of Calgary’s most distinctive cultural neighbourhoods with a long and deep history. It is a unique cultural area within the fabric of Calgary that is highly valued by residents, Calgarians and visitors from near and far. Like other Chinatowns across North America, Calgary’s Chinatown is at a crossroads – increasing the need to look at culture and the built form to ensure its ongoing vitality.

Council directed Administration to develop a Cultural Plan for Chinatown and integrate cultural considerations into a new Local Area Plan (LAP) for Chinatown.

The aim of these plans is to:

  • Outline a common vision for community character, cultural preservation and evolution–providing a level of certainty around the future of Chinatown.
  • Consider the built environment through a cultural lens and explore future opportunities for public and private investment and redevelopment.
  • Support successful integration of the Green Line LRT station.
  • Identify specific actions that the community and other stakeholders can undertake together– to help strengthen Chinatown’s vibrancy and cultural identity into the future

These plans will identify a cultural vision and planning priorities that can be realized and implemented through the public, private and community sectors. Examples of specific initiatives may include: new developments, adaptive reuse of an existing building, public realm improvement projects (e.g. the installations of art, signage, lighting, furniture, paving), local infrastructure projects, transportation improvements, festivals and events and other initiatives.



Cultural Plan for Chinatown


The development and implementation of a cultural plan involves the input and commitment of a range of stakeholders. The process begins with the identification of key cultural resources which includes significant places, stories, traditions, events, heritage resources, cultural workers and varied cultural expressions. From there, a plan is developed that identifies common interests, priorities and actions to preserve and grow these cultural resources and, more broadly, to harness the power of these cultural resources to contribute to community and economic goals.

The Cultural Plan for Chinatown will build on the broad goals and priorities of the Cultural Plan for Calgary which was approved by Council in 2016. One of the underlying priorities of the Cultural Plan for Calgary is to integrate cultural considerations into the way The City plans, makes decisions, collaborates and governs. The Cultural Plan for Chinatown will advance that work by identifying ways that the cultural identity of Chinatown can inform the built environment and for the built environment to more actively support the cultural vitality of the area.

What is culture?

Culture means many things to many people. In the broadest sense, culture is anything that defines the unique identity of a community or social group. Those characteristics often include social customs, seasonal traditions, geography, cuisine, oral traditions, fashion, literature, music and religious expression. However, culture also includes less obvious aspects of our lives such as heritage (both built and natural), community initiatives and the creative economy, which can include film and video industries, advertising, design and fabrication, performing arts and much more.

Local Area Plan for Chinatown

Local area plans are long range planning documents that are collaboratively developed between City staff and stakeholders. They set out the vision for how a community should change over time by guiding future development decisions, outlining the use of land and the form that development should take.

The purpose of a Local Area Plan is to:

  • set out the vision for how a community should change over time, such that it contributes to creating a more complete community;
  • promote local, compatible and sustainable development;
  • influence public and private investment in a community such that it aligns to the vision of the community;
  • guide the review of land use amendments, development permits, transportation and parks planning decisions that will shape the future of the community; and
  • refine the broad planning objectives of The City of Calgary, as set out in the the Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan, at the local level.

​Much of the existing 1986 Chinatown ​Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP)​ is outdated and no longer fulfills the purpose of providing meaningful development direction. The existing ARP for Calgary’s Chinatown predates the Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan, and is not in alignment with other significant City policies and corporate objectives.

A new local area plan for Chinatown will provide guidance to City planners, citizens, landowners/developers and City Council with a common vision for how redevelopment should happen.

The built form and culture in Calgary’s Chinatown are inextricably linked. A conversation about culture is needed to better understand and support the replacement of the existing ARP to ensure that future planning aligns with higher order policies, and future land use decisions and developments enhance the existing cultural character of the community. A new local area plan will ensure up-to-date guidance and direction is provided as redevelopment is contemplated and considered within Chinatown.



  • Spring 2018 – Council directed Administration to proceed with developing a Chinatown Cultural Plan and a culturally-based Local Area Plan, subject to developing funding options and exploring external partnerships.
  • Fall/Winter 2018 – Targeted consultation with stakeholders (including the Community Association, Chinatown District BIA, active community members and advocates, landowners and Urban Alliance researchers). With stakeholder input, City Administration developed and refined the project scope for the Chinatown Cultural Plan and the Local Area Plan.
  • Winter 2018/Spring 2019 - Council approved funding for the Chinatown Cultural Plan and Local Area Plan.

Next Steps:

  • Winter 2020 - Stakeholder outreach to establish Advisory Group, Cultural Plan consultant is hired and planning begins for engagement with Chinatown stakeholders

Chinatown Initiatives

There are a lot of exciting things happening in Chinatown. Since you’re interested in the Tomorrow’s Chinatown project, we thought you may also be interested in some of these other initiatives, projects and resources that have connections to the community of Chinatown and The City.

  • ​Chinatown Historical Context Paper​ – A study commissioned by The City which overviews major historical events, persons, institutions, landscapes, and structures in Chinatown to help inform future planning work.
  • Centre City Plan Refresh - The Centre City Plan is a strategy document that provides the long-term vision, strategy, and implementation actions for the Centre City.
  • Green Line LRT Project - The Green Line is Calgary’s next light rail transit (LRT) line, and the largest infrastructure investment to date.
  • Community Profile – Chinatown – includes demographic and household information as well as population projections.
  • Centre City Urban Design Guidelines – includes design guidelines for creating great streets, quality buildings and memorable places.
  • Eau Claire Public Realm - The City is working with Calgarian’s to create a safe, efficient and beautiful riverfront park space, promenade and cycle network.