Chinese-only signs in Richmond subject of a public debate

An estimated one hundred people have showed up at a community workshop in Richmond to sound off on the issue of Chinese language signage Thursday night.

In an ongoing controversy in the city, Richmond decided last fall that a bylaw banning Chinese-only signs would be unconstitutional and would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Petitions have been signed in the past calling for business signs to be in both English and Chinese.

Ted Townsend with the City of Richmond says the meeting was meant to get a feel for where the community stands when it comes to the signage.

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“The city has always taken an education approach on this issue: we have informed businesses of our desire that the signs should be at least 50 per cent in English,” says Townsend. “We want to hear from the community as to whether or not they think it is a correct approach and whether we should take a different approach, which could include regulation or other options.”

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Townsend says they talk to Richmond businesses regularly and found that the level of compliance is high.

He says they have also found that less than one per cent of signs in Richmond are in Chinese only.

“The vast majority of the signs, as covered under the sign bylaw, are either in English or both languages,” says Townsend. “Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t other stuff out there. There’s a lot of things like posters in windows, things like that, that aren’t covered by the sign bylaw. Those may be in a variety of languages and they do contribute to the issue, so that’s one of the things we’re looking at as well.”

Anyone can share their thoughts on the issue by completing a survey at until Fri, Mar 20. The comments can be left anonymously.

City staff is expected to report back to council later this spring.


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