Simon Button, a young engineer and urban chicken enthusiast in Victoria, sends this dispatch on the topic of gentrification in the country’s oldest Chinatown. 


The ‘g-word’ has long been a topic of heated debate in the world of neighbourhood development.

One project in Victoria seems to have rejected the negative connotation of the ‘g-word’ and presents its heritage building conversion to the public as “a gentrification project”. This is either an extremely tin-eared development team or one willing to embrace the positive side of the debate. Maybe both.



A Gentrification Project


The conversion project will be connecting a group of heritage buildings in Victoria’s Chinatown, providing street level commercial space on both Pandora and Fisgard. The buildings on the two parallel streets will be connected by an interior courtyard and their height will not change. The condos upstairs will apparently be priced around $300K, a price tag which is likely achieved by having a floor area of only 400-500 square feet and not providing any parking.

To me, the advertising of this as a gentrification project seemed to be either a misuse of the word gentrification or alternately a very honest declaration of intent from the developer. Or perhaps the word has developed a broader use and is not quite as provoking as it once was.