CALGARY -- Members of Calgary’s Chinatown community are calling on the city to rename James Short Park as the park's namesake has a history of anti-Chinese racism and discrimination. 

Coun. Druh Farrell — in consultation with the Chinatown Community Association, the Chinatown BIA, and other Calgary Chinese groups — has penned a notice of motion to be introduced at the city’s priorities & finance committee meeting on Tuesday. 

The motion calls for engagement on new names for James Short Park as well as the parkade near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Centre Street South, just outside the southern edge of Chinatown. 

Short — who moved to Calgary from Ontario in the late 1800s — was a lawyer and a school principal during his time in the city. However, frustrations are growing due to his involvement in blocking the purchase of land downtown by Chinese Calgarians. 

"Short petitioned city commissioners to prohibit Chinese Canadians from establishing the third and current location of Chinatown," the motion reads. 

"(It’s) making the claim that Chinese Canadians would lower property values and the further contention that 'it is for you to take up the question and set the Chinese in one section of the city as you would an isolated hospital'." 

Farrell says she was informed by a community member of Short's anti-Chinese sentiments and that prompted further consultation.

She hopes a name change will better reflect Chinese Canadian contributions.

Grace Shu , chair of the Chinese BIA, agrees. In a letter dated July 8, Shu said that she supports the removal of the "blight of racism and the hatred of the Chinese in Calgary." 

"The selection of a new name through community engagement will allow the culture and contributions of Calgary’s Chinese society to be honoured and revered respectfully."

Shu sent a checklist to the city that she would like to see presented alongside the motion to ensure the renaming process is done in consideration with the community. 

If approved, Farrell’s notice of motion will go to a full meeting of council on July 20. 

The motion also calls on Mayor Naheed Nenshi to request that the Calgary Board of Education change the name of James Short Memorial School in southeast Calgary.


The original version of this story included the Chinatown BIA's incorrect claim that Short had served as an alderman. The City of Calgary confirms that Short never served in this capacity.