Cleaning up Vancouver's Chinatown: Annual event aims to restore neighbourhood

·2 min read
Volunteers pick up garbage in Vancouver's Chinatown as part of the 2022 Chinatown Cleaning Campaign.  (Shawn Foss/CBC News - image credit)
Volunteers pick up garbage in Vancouver's Chinatown as part of the 2022 Chinatown Cleaning Campaign. (Shawn Foss/CBC News - image credit)

Around 100 people with garbage bags and tongs in hand walked around Vancouver's Chinatown on Saturday afternoon in an effort to clean up the neighbourhood.

The annual Chinatown Cleaning Campaign, organized by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society and the Chinatown Merchants Association, aims to maintain the neighbourhood so it's a "desirable and dynamic" place to visit, according to a written release.

The event takes place amid continuing struggles for small businesses and residents in the area who have dealt with a rise in anti-Asian hate throughout the pandemic.

"Businesses are struggling every day," said Vancouver Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung, who was at the event.

"We have issues where sometimes seniors are afraid to walk around their own neighbourhood."

Shawn Foss/CBC News
Shawn Foss/CBC News

A few weeks ago, around a dozen volunteers helped restore a mural on the side of the Liang You Bookstore on East Georgia Street, which was defaced in late March.

In January, the exterior walls of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden were spray painted, while windows at the nearby Chinese Cultural Centre were smashed.

Jordan Eng, president of Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society, says although the neighbourhood has struggled in recent years, he has noticed more families visiting the area as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

"It's really good to see the streets starting to fill up," Eng said.

Eng says the big turnout for the clean-up event shows people care about the neighbourhood.

Janssen Ong, one of the volunteers and the executive director of the Chinese Community Policing Centre, says the event is important because it will help bring back the vibrancy of the neighbourhood and restore Chinatown's culture.

The centre works alongside the Vancouver Police Department, community partners and volunteers to reduce crime and enhance safety in Chinatown.

Ong is also part of a new effort to clean up the neighbourhood on a regular basis.

The policing centre is launching a new pilot project in June with the aim of cleaning up graffiti in Chinatown.

He hopes there will be more volunteers coming down to the neighbourhood to help keep it clean.

"I think that would be really meaningful and nice."

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