09/29/2014 11:06 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST

Hong Kong protests have Vancouver support

Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Chinese Consulate in downtown Vancouver to lend their voices to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that has seen hundreds of thousands there take to the streets.

Residents are fighting the Chinese government's decisions to limit elections by rejecting open nominations for Hong Kong's leadership.​Over the weekend, they filled the city's business district. Police deployed tear gas, but the numbers of protesters continued to swell and by Monday police were forced to soften their tactics 

Leo Shin, with the Department of History and Asian Studies at UBC, believes the unrest could have some short-term economic impact here.

The unrest, he says, could also trigger a wave of immigration into Canada and Vancouver. In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. 

"I'm somewhat pessimistic of what's going on in Hong Kong," he said of hopes for a quick resolution. "I think it would escalate before it becomes better".

In the decades leading up to the transition, political instability led to many Hong Kong residents immigrating to Canada. Shin says many chose to stay here to start a new life, but others returned to Hong Kong.

"Those people are now in their 30s and 40s," says Shin. If the instability continues where to go back to?  So Canada would be a natural home for them to return to".