Preserving Cultural Food Assets – Sliced Mango Collective Urgent Action Needed

Sliced Mango Collective is organizing in response to the J+S Architect’s rezoning application at 5163-5187 Joyce Street. We are concerned that there has been insufficient community consultation regarding this rezoning proposal. We do not believe this proposal hears or reflects the goals and priorities of the Joyce-Collingwood neighbourhood, the Filipino community, and the Chinese community affected by this development.

We have until March 28th, 2021 to push the city to reevaluate this plan. 

Action Toolkit

Loss of Cultural Food Assets 

Food is a gateway to culture. In Filipino and Chinese immigrant populations high familial values are reflected directly in the food we prepare and share (e.g. “lutong pambahay,” dim sum). Family dinners are more than just a gathering of extended family members  — they are oftentimes a gathering of the wider community. The loss of these food establishments means the loss of our ability to have these spaces to gather and connect to our cultures.

In Metro Vancouver, in particular, there is no centralized neighbourhood for Filipino-Canadians. Instead, we have pockets of our community dispersed in different neighborhoods across Metro Vancouver; Joyce-Collingwood is one of them.

Displacement and Gentrification

The changes in property value that this redevelopment will bring to the neighborhood present an imminent threat of displacement for unprotected tenants. Without intervention, this project will encourage significant rent increases in surrounding apartment complexes and landlords will attempt to attract a new influx of wealthier tenants. The fallout will ensue along socio-economic, racial lines, replacing a predominantly immigrant, working class demographic with upper middle-class newcomers. It is imperative that vulnerable residents and retailers be protected such that they can remain in the neighbourhood.

Affordable and secure housing should be a priority, especially for marginalized populations, especially during a pandemic. The ability to social distance and quarantine has been an important part of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia. If this development displaces unprotected tenants, this increases their risk considering the current state of the pandemic. 

On Community Engagement and Consultation

During processes of community and engagement and consultation, our communities have not been properly or thoroughly informed. Sliced Mango Collective team members were surprised to hear that any development was happening at Joyce-Collingwood. Most of us have grown up as patrons of the businesses impacted by the rezoning plan and a few of us have lived in the Joyce-Collingwood neighbourhood. We were disappointed and dismayed to learn of this development plan and wished we had known sooner so that we could have taken action sooner. 

Furthemore, the surveys provided for the community to comment on the rezoning have primarily been in English. This is a language accessibility issue for many of the residents and community members whose first language is a non-English tongue (e.g. Tagalog, Cantonese, Mandarin). 

As children of immigrants, many of us have firsthand experience of how important information takes additional time and resources to reach the community members that need to hear it. Many (though not all) of us have been in the unique position of being our parents’ or older relatives’ official translators. In this position, we’re tasked with having to disseminate information on behalf of them as well as translating English information to them. We feel that these surveys could have best served the community if information was provided in the languages used in the community.

Allyship with Chinese-Canadian Community

The team at Sliced Mango Collective can only speak to our lived experiences as Filipino-Canadians. However, we stand in solidarity with the Chinese-Canadian community whose cultural food assets are also being affected by this development plan.

As it stands, the retail space proposed in the rezoning will not be able to accommodate all the businesses currently residing at 5163-5187 Joyce Street. These establishments, however, want to continue to serve the community together. 

Impact of redevelopment proposal

The 5163-5187 Joyce St rezoning proposal will displace Filipino and Chinese businesses including Sari-Sari Filipino Convenience Store, Kumare Express, Pampanga’s Cuisine, Plato Filipino, Joyce Jiaozi, and Kay Market. The redevelopment will replace these businesses and restaurants with 5,200 sq ft retail space, divided into two units. But these are more than physical spaces, they are community spaces that are intangible cultural assets which function as vital community spaces, meeting spaces, and cultural spaces. These businesses are what make the Joyce-Collingwood neighbourhood a diverse cultural hub and a place that immigrant folks can feel at home.