The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the many gaps that exist in Canada’s social security, emergency response, healthcare, and supports for small businesses in times of crisis. Over the course of the pandemic, I have heard countless stories of how individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and communities have struggled with the hardships of the pandemic, and how they have fallen through the cracks of the government’s patchwork responses.
By listening to the stories of constituents and organizations in Vancouver East, I have been advocating for better and more comprehensive pandemic supports for struggling individuals, families, and businesses. Going forward, I will continue to bring the voices and needs of the community to parliament so that no one is left behind.
Your government has been made aware of the dire situation for businesses in Vancouver since the start of the pandemic. As you are aware, a recent announcement was made for Granville Island in Vancouver, a site owned by the federal government, where a special provision is made and $17 million is made available to provide rent relief for the merchants, theatres and artisans for a full year. While I support and appreciate the Federal government’s action in support of Granville Island, I would like to emphasize that historic Chinatown is in need of special consideration from your government. The significance of Vancouver’s Chinatown, a national historic site, is undeniably valuable to our city, our province and indeed our country.
Even before the pandemic occurred, Chinatown was already in a delicate state. The neighbourhood was ranked number three on the Heritage Vancouver Society’s top 10 watch list of endangered sites in Vancouver in 2018 and listed as the top 10 endangered places of the National Trust for Canada in 2016. In fact, ongoing gentrification and immense pressure from developers have already been impacting Chinatown’s rich cultural essence. The loss of small business merchants would only increase the risk of Chinatown losing its unique urban cultural characteristics.