03/04/2015 02:41 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT

Chinatown development key to revitalization: Kevin McHaney

The City of Vancouver's is responding to a 1,200 signature-strong petition opposing new market development in Chinatown — saying new buildings will play a role in revitalizing the area.

"We are supportive of keeping Chinatown authentic," Kevin McHaney, the assistant director of planning at the City of Vancouver, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"It's important to realize that a lot of those businesses are struggling. When we did a survey of the businesses in the last few years, we found that 65 per cent of them have declining revenues and they need some investment and they need more people in the neighbourhood to support them."

King-Mong Chan, who works with the Carnegie Community Action Project, told the CBC many of the new development projects don't benefit current Chinatown residents.

"They're seeing some of their grocery stores close or be redeveloped and new shops coming in that are not the same sense of community and belonging they had in the past."

McHaney said the issue is more nuanced.

"The development in the area has helped us support a new program for the [Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver's] buildings," he said.

We have generated close to $3-million and council launched a program to support these buildings and 17 of those have taken us up on the offer to repair those buildings which are important not only for heritage, but for seniors housing."

The City of Vancouver's Urban Design Panel and the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee will hold a workshop at 4 p.m. today to discuss the concerns raised in the petition.

To hear the full interview with Kevin McHaney, click the audio labelled: Development in Chinatown.