By Bernie Florido, Civic Affairs Convenor
The province has recently granted $2.2 million to revitalize Vancouver’s Chinatown. The funding will restore the iconic neon lights, renew storefronts, and upgrade the Chinese Cultural Centre. The goal is to revitalize the area for residents, visitors, and businesses, and to promote sustainable economic growth. The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation and community groups have been working towards revitalization, but previous efforts have been fleeting. Despite challenges, the community’s resiliency and determination continue to inspire. Chinatown’s business leaders recognize the importance of maintaining cultural heritage while welcoming new businesses.
BC Mayors Council
Members of the Mayors Council are going to Ottawa to urge the federal government to accelerate the launch of a permanent $3 billion public transit fund. They argue that the area’s higher immigration rates will increase the demand on TransLink’s infrastructure needs. The fund is currently set to start in 2026, but the mayors say the money will be needed as soon as next year. With 2.6 million people served, TransLink represents about 7% of Canada’s population. A proportionate share of the annual fund would be $205 million. The funding is expected to be used by TransLink to more than double its bus service by 2032 as part of its $21 billion plan called Access for Everyone under its Transport 2050 strategy. However, the mayors note that the federal government’s new immigration target of 500,000 people annually, up from 300,000, means faster population growth than planned, which will put additional pressure on the transportation network.
Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke has rejected a recommendation from Mike Farnworth, Public Safety Minister, to transition away from the RCMP and establish a Surrey Police Service. The government had cited chronic staffing shortages in RCMP detachments across the province, and the risk of further shortages if the RCMP was forced to transfer hundreds of officers back to Surrey if the SPS was eliminated. However, Mayor Brenda Locke criticized the government’s report as “disingenuous” and “half-baked” and stated her preference for retaining the Mounties. While the government offered financial support for the transition to SPS, it will not provide assistance if Surrey reverts back to the RCMP, which would include approximately $72 million in severance that would have to be given to SPS officers. The decision has left both SPS and RCMP officers in a state of limbo, and some councillors have called for a referendum on the matter.