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Final buildings in Calgary's second Chinatown set for demolition

Two historic buildings in Calgary's second Chinatown are set to be demolished for an 18-storey tower.

One of the buildings, the two-storey Western Block, is located on the corner of 10th Avenue and 1st Street S.W.

"This is the last remaining building of Calgary's second Chinatown," said Heritage Calgary CEO Josh Traptow.

The Western Block was built in 1905 by then-mayor Thomas Underwood.

"In that time, when it was very anti-Chinese, Thomas Underwood was actually a very strong supporter of Chinese-Calgarians owning land and also having business and other properties," Traptow said.

The Western Block features shops on the ground floor while the second floor is used for apartments.

The Calgary Planning Commission approved the development of the 18-storey tower last month.

According to Traptow, Calgary's second Chinatown, which featured the Western Block and the Calgary Gas Company workshop building, existed between 1901 and 1910.

"(Underwood was) a strong proponent of Chinese-Calgarians, making sure they had places to do business," Traptow said.

"We really encourage the developer to retain more of the existing building."

Heritage Calgary's recommendation was to have the new development feature the facade, the brick or other elements from the building.

"They have said that is not feasible," Traptow said.

Traptow says a commemoration component is set to go in the back alley.

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong wants more to be done.

"If this was any other community and culture, whether it be Indigenous or Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ, this would be unacceptable to put in the back alley," he said.

The development is also knocking out the Backlot, the building where "Calgary's oldest queer bar establishment" is located.

"I think more and more Calgarians are understanding the significance of the intangible, heritage and stories that are connected to them," Traptow said.

CTV News has reached out to the developer, Truman Homes, but has yet to hear back. Top Stories

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