Hundreds of volunteers spent their Saturday mornings in Vancouver’s Chinatown collecting trash and painting unwanted graffiti in an effort to clean up the beloved neighborhood.
According to Jordan Eng, the president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, more than 200 people from across the city took part in this year’s cleanup, the largest turnout he has ever seen.
“To see people coming to Chinatown from all over the city is just heartwarming,” he said.
Chinatown has become the target of racist graffiti and vandalism in recent years.
In April, the stone lions were damaged twice in one week.
The annual cleaning is an attempt to prevent more such incidents.
“Clearly Chinatown is struggling with a lot of disorder, graffiti and garbage,” said Vancouver City Councilman Pete Fry, who spent some morning collecting litter.
“One of the things you can do to stop crime and vandalism to some extent is to keep it clean and tidy,” says local businessman and volunteer Nigel Bullers.
Volunteer Julian Soucy said it was important to him that people who don’t necessarily live and work in the community show up.
“I’ve seen the deterioration in this area, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. And I feel like it’s a bit of a civic duty for people to come out when they have some free time,” he said.
“I think this is a marginalized group that don’t get as much love as they deserve. And especially now that more tourists and more people are coming to the city, we want to make sure that that fresh air is reinvigorated in this community,” he continued.
Eng said he was pleased with the massive turnout, which he said shows that there are many people who care about the community.
“We just want people to recognize that we’ve been here a long time. It’s an important part of Vancouver’s history. And we’re a resilient community,” he said.
The initiative also allowed people to come together and learn about one of Vancouver’s most historic areas, while getting it in better shape for the much-anticipated return of tourism.
“Summer is almost here. This is a really great opportunity for us to really enhance the great thing about Chinatown and encourage people to come back,” said Fry.
Organizers said they look forward to a more vibrant and rejuvenated Chinatown in the coming months.