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'It will be an emotional moment': Edmonton to erect new $6M gate to Chinatown


From the imported Chinese tiles, to its decorative dragons and lucky lion statues, the Harbin Gate stood as a meaningful symbol of friendship and belonging in Chinatown for 30 years.

Now plans are being finalized for its replacement, with new renderings sparking excitement in the inner-city neighbourhood.

Community leader Sandy Pon was there on a cold night in 2017 when city crews removed the final piece of the landmark.

"That was the gate for friendship. It was the twinning of the two cities, Harbin and Edmonton," explained Pon, who represents the Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association.

The original gate was moved to make way for LRT expansion. It has been sitting in storage ever since.

The plan was always to reinstall or replace the gate.

Last month, city councillors approved $6 million dollars to build a new icon, just around the corner from the original location over 102 Avenue east of 97 Street.

"That was a landmark for every Edmontonian. So to have it put back, in a better place even, it’s great for this whole city," Pon said.

An architect from Harbin helped assess the old gate. Structural concerns meant a new one was needed to span the wider 97 Street just north of Jasper Avenue

"This is the historical, original area where Chinese businesses first originated," explained Michael Lee, also with the Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association.

He believes Chinatown has felt the gate’s absence.

"It will be an emotional moment when it actually goes up because we've been through quite a bit," Lee said.

After two men were killed in the community on the same day last spring, city councillors and the mayor acknowledged Chinatown's needs have been neglected for years.

"Council’s decision to fund the gate’s rebuild is another example of the commitment the City has made in Chinatown’s recovery, which will create a beneficial ripple effect throughout Edmonton," city spokesperson Christina Chu wrote in a statement.

"The original Harbin Gate is currently in storage and we are working with the Chinatown community to discuss options for the piece."

There is still no timeline for when the new Harbin Gate will be installed. The city is working with a team in China to finalize the design before construction can start.

"It’s a validation of the community and a big group of people participating in this mainstream society," Pon said.

A rendering of the new Harbin Gate in Edmonton (Credit: Sandy Pon.) Top Stories

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