Vancouver’s Chinatown is getting $1.8 million from Ottawa to try and fix the neighborhood’s longstanding problems
The federal government has approved $1.8 million in new funding to revitalize Vancouver’s historic Chinatown district.
“The pandemic has hit Chinatown particularly hard. Offices and shop fronts have been emptied,” International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said.
“But this community is strong and focused on its future.”
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim also attended Monday’s announcement, stressing the importance and timeliness of the funding.
“Many of us have incredibly deep roots here. This community needs to come alive again.”
One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Vancouver’s Chinatown has had a history of crime problems that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
Carol Lee, chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, says the federal funding is a game changer for the neighborhood, but notes that while it’s a step in the right direction, it’s “not the solution.”
“Graffiti and vandalism have increased significantly, anti-Asian racism has skyrocketed, indiscriminate attacks on our seniors, [and] a rise in property crime that has made Chinatown a place where people no longer feel safe,” Lee said Monday at a news conference at the Chinatown Storytelling Center.
The federal money will come from Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund and will go toward upgrading local building infrastructure, improving street lighting to reduce crime at cultural venues, and upgrading shop windows and doors.
“After years of neglect, Chinatown is finally regaining some of the glory it had in its heyday,” Lee said.
The Vancouver Police Department said Chinatown’s proximity to downtown Eastside means the area has had a history of crime problems that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
Police said they have seen a number of increasing and worrying incidents involving aggression against racialized people or hate crimes.
To address these concerns, in January Vancouver City Council approved nearly $1 million to improve security and reduce vandalism and graffiti in Chinatown.
The planned upgrades include $390,000 for cleaning programs, $210,000 for graffiti removal and prevention, and $110,000 to staff a neighborhood municipal office for six months.