Chinese-only bus ad leads to social media outcry

The issue of Chinese-only signage in Richmond has resurfaced and this time, it’s an ad on the side of a bus traveling along Steveston Highway that has ruffled feathers.

Community activist Kerry Starchuk posted a photo to Twitter on Jan. 14, drawing attention to an ad for a Richmond-based financial company that covered the entire side of a bus.

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“This is absolutely disgraceful,” Starchuk’s tweet read. “B.C. needs a language law to put an end to this nonsense. I can't do it alone. I need a team of professionals to help.”


Many responses to Starchuk’s post echoed her sentiments.


Others, however, seemed less concerned with the lack of English.



In response, TransLink said it isn’t mandated to include English on their ads. 

“There is no legislation requiring the province or municipalities to enforce signage in any one of our two official languages in Canada,” said TransLink’s senior media relations advisor, Chris Bryan. “TransLink has no authority to deny advertising on that basis. If people want to advertise, as long it meets our own advertising guidelines we accept it.”

TransLink’s advertising guidelines mentions a 2009 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which states that “if TransLink chooses to accept advertising on the transit system, it must not limit a potential advertiser’s freedom of expression.”

TenKK, the company responsible for placing the Chinese-only ad, told the Richmond News that, while they realized there might be sensitivity to an English-free ad, they did not feel there was enough space to make the ad bilingual.

“We didn’t know people were talking about this on social media until we received some phone calls asking us to explain the ad in English from a couple of random people,” said a representitive from TenKK. 

“We have both Chinese and western clients, so it’s not our intention to put the ad only in Chinese, however, the space is limited, that’s why we put this ad on first.”

TenKK said the company is working on an English or bilingual version of the ad.

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