A new community policing centre opened in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown on Thursday, with the goal of restoring safety in the neighbourhood.
The new centre, staffed by volunteers, was launched at its new location at 44 East Pender Street — adjacent to the Chinese Cultural Centre — with a small, pandemic-safe ceremony.
The new location aims to re-establish a street-level policing presence in Chinatown, an iconic Vancouver community that’s been hit hard by a spike in anti-Asian incidents, property crime and the effects of homelessness.
Fred Kwok, chairman of the Chinese Cultural Centre, said the combination of growing street disorder and racism has made people fearful of coming to the area, adding to the burden already faced by local businesses.
“It was just chaotic … You see human waste everywhere,” he said.
“Since the pandemic started there is a huge increase in anti-Chinese sentiment on the street. People got harassed verbally, got assaulted physically, people got spit at, you name it.”
A report to the Vancouver Police Board earlier this year found anti-Asian hate crimes had surged 717 per cent in 2020.
There are 11 community policing centres in Vancouver but the Chinese community policing centre was the first of its kind when it opened its doors at the original location on Main Street, back in 1992.