Chinese signs in Richmond 'way out of hand' and 'not inclusive'; delegation appealing to city council for more English

Theres no doubt Richmond with a population of predominantly Asian descent enjoys a generous helping of Asian language on signs, shops, advertising, real estate newspapers and mail outs.

But a delegation preparing to present its case to city council claims Richmonds plate is now piled too high with the Chinese language and is asking for a more balanced diet of Canadas official English and French tongue.

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Residents Kerry Starchuk and Ann Merdinyan have spent the last eight months researching the issue, taking photos and gathering signatures for a 1,000-strong petition, before they face city council on Monday.

Starchuk and Merdinyan whove sat in on many of the citys intercultural advisory committee meetings over the last six months say the amount of Chinese-only literature theyve photographed over the past couple of years has gotten way out of hand.

And, with a view to increasing racial harmony, Starchuk is asking the city to consider adopting the same policy as Aberdeen Centre, where two thirds of any signage has to have English and French.

Were not saying there shouldnt be Chinese language on signs, Starchuk told the News.

Ive lived in Richmond all my life and I enjoy having so many different cultures in the city.

But this isnt right and its all the way through Richmond, not just the city centre and the lack of English is way out of proportion.

Starchuk said if someone, such as city council, doesnt get a handle on it soon, there may come a time when therell be no English to be seen.

If this is our Canadian identity, then its not very inclusive is it? said Starchuk, who added she wont drive up the north end of No. 3 Road anymore because the predominantly Chinese signage.

This is not cultural harmony because I have no idea what these signs, advertising and the real estate papers are saying.

We value Richmond and we value our Canadian identity and I hope that comes across with our presentation.

Aberdeen Centre spokeswoman Joey Kwan confirmed it has a signage policy for all of its retailers, with at least 70 per cent English/French and the remaining 30 per cent a language of the retailers choice.

Starchuk, who says shes been researching the subject off and on for three years, feels Aberdeens approach is the way forward.

Up the top of No. 3 Road is one thing, but its crept further and further down into all of Richmond and into my neighbourhood, she said.

When you drive down your own street and you cant read many of the signs and cant read half of the stuff that comes to your door, somethings wrong with that.

Starchuk has approached several members of city council in the past with her issue and, according to her, she didnt gain much traction.

The discussion needs to be opened up about this and thats ultimately what were trying to do here.

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