The Dales House at 414 Alexander Street circa 1890 CVA Photo SGN 490

Friday, November 2, 2012

Honouring Mary Lee Chan and SPOTA Pioneers

On Saturday, November 3rd at 3:30pm I have the honour to be the emcee of an important neighbourhood and civic ceremony unveiling a memorial mosaic commemorating the pioneers of SPOTA, the Strathcona Property Owners & Tenants Association, the organization which came out of the work of East End/Strathcona neighbourhood organizer and activist Mary Lee Chan. 

Mary Lee Chan and the SPOTA pioneers spearheaded the grassroots Strathcona neighbourhood rebellion against the City's urban revitalization plan of the 1950s and 60s and the freeway plan that followed that would have totally obliterated Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood and large swaths of Chinatown and Gastown off the map. SPOTA's work not only saved large sections of the East End's unique built heritage for posterity, but also changed how things were done at Vancouver's City Hall and city halls all across Canada. 

The fact that there is a Social Planning aspect and community consultation involved in Canada's cities' Planning Departments is due to the vision, activism, bravery, tenacity, and organizing skills of Mary Lee Chan and the SPOTA pioneers. The event, which takes place at 658 Keefer Street (near Heatley) will also include the dedication of a memorial plaque for the Mary Lee Chan house at 658 Keefer street from the Heritage Vancouver Foundation's Places That Matter programme.
There are many people in the neighbourhood who feel that the long-awaited and hard fought for new East End neighbourhood library to be built on the 700 block of East Hastings should be named the Mary Lee Chan East End Branch in her honour.Like-minded people are encouraged to send letters supporting this position to the board of the Vancouver Public Library and to Mayor and Council.
Mary Lee Chan by Adrian R. Zabor

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