Chinese community leaders in Richmond have formed a coalition to address the ongoing controversy over the placement of Chinese-only signs on some of the storefronts and advertisements found in the municipality.
The group is spearheading the “Signs of Harmony Project” urging locals to submit photos of Chinese-only signs, so that the businesses in question can be pursued to follow a voluntary compliance of including English into their signs. Representatives in the group include those who work within business, real estate and the community, such as SUCCESS – the non-profit organization that assists newcomers of Chinese descent to overcome language and cultural barriers.
The group is opposed to having the City of Richmond introduce bylaws that would strictly regulate the use of language on private signage, although it already encourages businesses to be more inclusive for non-Chinese speaking individuals.
“When you regulate, you penalize. It is not business-friendly. It does not build harmony,” former SUCCESS chairman Kenneth Tung told Postmedia News.
Vancity Buzz reached out to SUCCESS for a comment, but a response was not made in time for publication.
In 2013, Richmond City Council voted against a motion to enact a bylaw requiring a minimum amount of English on any commercial advertisement or building signage. The motion was triggered by a petition signed by a thousand local residents.
Instead, councillors opted to tackle concerns by educating businesses. In addition, there were legal matters over whether a complete ban on Chinese-only signs would violate the Canadian Charter right of freedom of expression. The Charter only requires levels of government to provide English and French language text options – businesses are not required to abide to this policy.
Photos of the Chinese-only signs in Richmond should be submitted to the “Signs of Harmony Project” at firstname.lastname@example.org