CHINATOWN BIA

The Toronto Chinatown Business Improvement Area (CBIA) is a not-for-profit community based City of Toronto agency established in 2007. CBIA was formed by the area’s commercial property owners and tenants, along with Trinity-Spadina’s City Councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh. In addition, CBIA works closely with all three levels of the government, area residents, community groups, other BIAs and the private sector to build a strong Chinatown community.

The key purposes of CBIA are to preserve the Chinese heritage and culture, improve on Chinatown’s streetscape, health and safety, and to create exciting community events and projects to promote the area and draw visitors and locals to eat, shop and explore the neighbourhood. As a result, more employment opportunities and new businesses will be continually attracted to the area to enhance on the existing vibrancy and tenancy mix.

Chinatown BIA Boundary and Management

CBIA geographic boundaries run from north to south on Spadina Avenue between College Street and Sullivan Street and from east to west on Dundas Street West between Augusta Avenue to Beverly Street; and Huron Street between D’Arcy Street and Dundas Street West.

The funding of CBIA comes strictly from the area’s commercial property owners (who pay a special levy to the City of Toronto), sponsorships, and donations.It is run by an Honorary Board consisting of 19 member-elected Board of Directors (BOD), that has been approved by the City Council.

HISTORY OF CHINATOWN

Toronto Chinatown is vibrant and multicultural. Many of the area members and residents are descendants or immigrants from Asia: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries.
The history of Toronto’s Chinatown stems back to the late 1870s, with the opening of the first Chinese business, owned by Sam Ching. His laundry wash was located at 9 Adelaide E. Many Chinese people who had come to Toronto for a better quality of living were surprised to see the inequality in jobs, living and overall treatment of the Chinese. When the Chinese emigrated from their homelands to Toronto, many of them were not able to find jobs because of systemic discrimination and used what skills they had to earn an income. The growth of the Chinese population was sluggish and by 1881, there were only 10 Chinese people residing in Toronto.

The First Chinatown Location

The number of stores in old Chinatown grew over the years of the late 1800s-early 1900s, forming a little enclave on Elizabeth St, from Queen St. W north to Dundas St. W. The variety of businesses in the area was limited, consisting primarily of laundry washes, restaurants and dried goods shops. Settlement by the Chinese developed in the 1920s and was firmly established at this location for several decades. This was done after the relocation of the Jewish residents to Kensington Market. The Chinese residents had developed their shops, associations, political groups, media networks, theatres and opera houses in the area of Elizabeth St, and along the smaller streets adjacent. By the 1940s, the population in Toronto’s Chinatown was the third largest, after cities Victoria and Vancouver, both located in British Columbia.

The stable and developed Elizabeth St. faced abolishment when discussion of a new City Hall arose. This new building for city officials and councillors was to be built at Louisa and Elizabeth Streets. This meant many Chinese businesses and residences would be demolished to make way for a grand new building. A committee, dedicated to the preservation of shops and residences along this area was founded in 1968 and led by Jean Lumb. Ms. Lumb later won the Order of Canada for her dedication and commitment to this project. Demolition decreased the area of Chinatown by two thirds and this space was used for new City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

Moving to Dundas Street. W.

After the erection of the new City building, the prices for the land in this area skyrocketed and there were not many people that could afford to live in the same area they once had. Thus, they moved from Elizabeth St, onto Dundas Street W, from the intersection of Elizabeth Streets all the way to Bay and Dundas. Nowadays, there are still many signs on these old buildings, although many of the associations have vacated the area.
Today, the West Chinatown or 中區唐人街/中區華埠/中國城 is a portion of Old Chinatown that has been relocated to Spadina Ave. and Dundas St. W and is one of five Chinatown ‘hubs’ of the GTA (the other 4 being East Chinatown, Markham/Richmond Hill, Scarborough, and Mississauga). If you take a walk through Old Chinatown, along Elizabeth St, up to Dundas St. W, there are still many signs that remain on their old buildings and while vacated, are remnants and indicators of Toronto’s history and the challenges the Chinese faced when developing in this city.
Source for information: Chan, Arlene. The Chinese in Toronto from 1878: From Outside to Inside the Circle. Toronto: National Heritage, 1987. Online.

BOARD & STAFF

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Tony Yu

Chair

Business Name: The Chinese Freemasons of Toronto
Business Address: 438 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G7

Peter Chen

Vice-Chair & Co-Chair of Marketing & Promotions Committee

Business Name: Ontario Chinese Restaurant & Food Services Association
Business Address: Unit 5, 138 D\’Arcy Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1K1

Raymond Yam

Treasurer & Co-Chair of Streetscape & Safety Committee

Business Name: Ray Printing Co. Ltd.
Business Address: 397 Dundas Street W., Toronto, ON M5T 1G6

Steven Pho

Secretary & Co-Chair of Events Committee

Business Name: Sunlight Trading Co. Ltd.
Business Address: 248 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2C2

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Kelvin Chung

Director

Business Name: Dim Sum King Seafood Restaurant
Business Address: 3/Fl, 421 Dundas Street W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G6

Bao Can Gao

Director & Co-Chair of Streetscape & Safety Committee

Business Name: Dundas Spring Garden Restaurant
Business Address: 434 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G7

Walker Kwok

Director

Business Name: Canada Textiles Wholesale
Business Address: 390 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2G5

Andy Liu

Director

Business Name: A Go-Go Hair Salon
Business Address: Unit 201-289 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2E6

Sunny Liu

Director & Co-Chair of Events Committee

Business Name: Kyu Shon Hong Co. Ltd.
Business Address: 439 Dundas Street W., Toronto, ON M5T 1G6

Jacky Lo

Director

Business Name: Emerald Health
Business Address: Unit 269 – 222 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 3B3

Alexander Mok

Director

Business Name: Alexander Kung Fu Club
Business Address: 436 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 4B2

Sandy Peng

Director & Co-Chair of Marketing & Promotions Committee

Business Name: Wan Fang Yuan Buddha Society of Canada
Business Address: 68 Huron Street., Toronto, ON M5T 2A7

Julie Suen

Director & Co-Chair of Cleanliness & Standards Committee

Business Name: Canadian Chinese Radio / Retail Store
Business Address: 405 Spadina Avenue.Toronto, ON M5T 2G6

John Zhu

Director

Business Name: Ledgers Chinatown
Business Address: Unit 3, 305 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2E6

Eric Wen

Director

Business Name: Longbond International Group
Business Address: 3rd Floor, 305 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2E6

Mason Zhang

Director & Co-Chair of Cleanliness & Standards Committee

Business Name: Yooj Express Restaurant
Business Address: 280 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 1H3

Simon Zhong

Director

Business Name: Toronto Community & Culture Centre
Business Address: Unit 217 – 222 Spadina Ave.,Toronto, ON M5T 3B3

Judy Zhu

Director

Business Name: Cango Consulting Group
Business Address: Unit 2, 305 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2E6

STAFF

Lucia Huang

Event Coordinator

Natalie Hui

Event Coordinator