Vancouver Chinatown BIA wants those elected to address crime

Posted Oct 13, 2022, 12:54PM PDT.

Last Updated Oct 13, 2022, 12:57PM PDT.

Despite statistics showing the rate of many crimes is down in Vancouver overall over the past three years, the Chinatown Business Improvement Association wants to see a change in city hall.

BIA President Jordan Eng says his community believes there’s a big problem with “social disorder” in the neighbourhood, adding it’s not being addressed.“We’ve been very supportive of the Vancouver Police Department — they’ve been supportive of us — but the leadership has to come from the top, as well. There has to be support from city hall to make it happen,” he told OMNI News.

“We’ve been ringing the alarm bells for the last three years, talking about social disorder, graffiti, anti-Asian racism attacks … in Chinatown, and really with very little response.”

In 2017, the city established the Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group to oversee the work related to revitalizing the area. The following year, the city also formed the Chinatown Transformation Team to work with the community in developing a long-term Cultural Heritage Asset Management Plan — a key component to gaining a possible UNESCO designation for Chinatown.

Last year, to meet the rising incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes, a community policing centre was moved into the heart of Chinatown. It was moved into the area with volunteers hoping the visibility of the centre would increase community access.

Earlier this year, business owners in Chinatown expressed concern, saying they were worried that tourists wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting the area due to crime reports.

Like other neighbourhoods, Chinatown has also seen acts of vandalism as well as violence, with some monuments defaced and attacks being reported.

Incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart has promised that, if re-elected, he would work to bring an in-house mobile service to “compassionately” assist those in need, providing non-emergency mental health and addiction assistance. He said such a service would reduce the need for police to respond to certain calls.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Union recently announced it was endorsing Ken Sim for mayor — a move that has been highly criticized and that has fuelled continued debate about policing in the city and its role in politics.

“It’s an attitude at city hall and city staff that needs to change, rather than just telling us that there are other issues that are more important, we have to make sure that we get that message out. Chinatown is still a very vibrant neighbourhood,” Eng explained.

“And it’s not only just in Chinatown — it’s all across the city. There’s random attacks of innocent people in Chinatown but it’s now become a mainstream issue, it’s happening downtown, it’s happening in False Creek, it’s happening in Mount Pleasant,” he continued, adding incumbent Mayor Stewart has seemed to be more focused on things like housing “rather than dealing with the issues we have today.”

Regardless of the controversies, Eng says the BIA and community in general will work with whoever comes out on top in this weekend’s civic election.

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