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‘Choy Yuen Crescent’ proposed as name of new street by Oakridge Centre redevelopment

Name reflects Chinese farming heritage in Vancouver

“Choy Yuen Crescent” is proposed as the name for the new public road being created alongside the Oakridge Centre redevelopment.

QuadReal and Westbank are redeveloping the 28-acre site. The new street will run between West 41st Avenue and West 45th Avenue, curving along the western edge of the property.

The new name, selected by the City of Vancouver’s civic asset naming committee in July, is proposed in a report going before council Oct. 1, which also explains the rationale behind the choice.

Location of new street.
Location of new street.

“Choy Yuen is how Chinese market farmers, who were mostly from Zhongshan 中山 (Chungsan in Cantonese) county, would have referred to their operations. Chinese market gardens were an important food resource for the City of Vancouver, supplying the majority of fresh produce before the large scale importation of vegetables from international sources began in the 1960s,” states the report, which adds that market gardens were found throughout Vancouver, including near the Oakridge mall site.

“On the southern slope overlooking the Fraser River and at Musqueam, Chinese market gardens provided needed employment and contributed substantially to the city’s economy. Many of our parks and school sites, Douglas Park and Sir Charles Tupper for instance, were former market gardens.”

The selection committee cites information from UBC professor Henry Yu who pointed out that prominent Canadian families, such as the Louie family of IGA and London Drugs, were tied to the Zhongshan network of farmers and from that country themselves.

“Choy Yuen Crescent recalls the important contribution made by Chinese Canadians to the City of Vancouver and the long-standing relationship of mutual respect and collaboration with Musqueam (who were employed in the gardens on the reserve),” the report concluded.

"Choy Yuen Crescent" was cleared by E-Comm and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, which are consulted on new street names to ensure they aren’t duplicates of existing names and they aren’t at risk of being misunderstood in an emergency situation.

However, “Choy Yuen Crescent” wasn’t the first named considered for the road.

Three years ago, in 2016, the civic asset naming committee approved adding “Otto Landauer” to the name reserve list, and recommended to council that the new road beside the Oakridge redevelopment be called “Landauer Crescent.”

The naming committee’s July 29, 2019 meeting minutes indicate that subsequently it was decided that the name for the new street should “reflect the history of the neighbourhood,” with the committee’s discussion focusing on “paying tribute to the Chinese market gardens that were known to the area up until the 1940s.”

Landauer was a Jewish immigrant who later converted to Catholicism. He was a noted photographer and extensively documented Vancouver’s commercial and industrial growth following the Second World War.

Felix-Marie Badeau, a co-chair of the naming committee, told the Courier in a September 27th email that the committee had received feedback from members of the Jewish community who felt Landauer's name might not be the best fit for the new road.

"Mr. Landauer was certainly an important local photographer who documented the construction of many local landmark buildings and bridges. His contributions were many.  While Mr. Landauer was born Jewish, in 1939, while living in Switzerland, he converted to Catholicism. It seems that he embraced his new faith and adhered loyally to it through the majority of his life,” Badeau wrote.

"The Civic Asset Naming Committee felt that, in recognition of the Jewish community, the name Landauer was not a good fit for the area.  Mr.  Landauer contributed a great deal to the community and it is possible that his name might yet be used for another asset that is more fitting."

Note: This story has been updated since first posted