Iconic Vancouver landmark bought out by telecom giant
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Sun Yat-sen Garden, once dedicated to Chinese revolutionary and “Father of the Nation” Dr. Sun Yat-sen, has been purchased by Rogers Communication and renamed to Rogers Garden. The move was immediately and loudly criticized by people who don’t use Rogers as a service provider, while those who do suddenly have been unable to browse or text without upgrading to a more expensive plan. The garden acted as a cultural center for Chinatown and the larger mainland Chinese community in Vancouver, and was crafted by professional architects following the traditions of Chinese gardening. Earlier this week, Rogers announced a series of dynamic and innovative changes that prove to be even more controversial than the new name.
The name change was met with almost universal disdain. Protests have been continuing in Chinatown for over a week, growing stronger when Rogers insisted they didn’t want to supplant the pre-existing culture around the garden, but instead “assimilate it into the larger telecom conglomerate” in what they called the “One-Rogers Policy.” The unpopular renaming of Toronto’s Skydome and Vancouver’s GM Place were apparently only the first steps into this bold rebranding initiative.
In email interviews with the Other Press, activists from Chinatown and across Vancouver called the changes “deeply insulting and grounds for a potential lawsuit,” before their internet connections were mysteriously cut.
Seeking to both placate a growing PR disaster and to open the garden to a broader customer base, Rogers announced the future of the Rogers Garden will pay homage to Dr. Sun Yat-sen by following his Three Principles of the People, Sun’s philosophical treatise for revolutionary China. The first is principle is nationalism, which Rogers will express by allowing different nations to open pavilions around the garden. Uncomfortably, the participating nations were selected by an internet poll, leading to Tibet, Taiwan, and Hong Kong being selected simply for laughs. The second principle is democracy, which means Rogers is reluctantly staying committed to using internet polls for all major decisions. The third principle is roughly understood to be socialism, which Rogers chose to interpret by raising the price of admission into the garden. These decisions were poorly received across the political spectrum.
Despite the unpopularity, the telecom giant has no intention of backing out or slowing down their plans to remake Canada in their image. In the announcement of the controversial purchase, Rogers CEO Joe Natale added that it “opens up new opportunities for future rebranding. The Downtown Eastside has a bad rap—renaming it ‘Rogers Village’ could really help the community.”
Natale went on to discuss future plans to rebrand other landmarks of the Lower Mainland, suggesting the “Rogers Peace Arch,” the “Rogers Cenotaph,” and the “Rogers Telus World of Science.”