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Since 1979 • February-March 2024 • Circulation 5000

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Edmonton Ramps Up Cleaning and Graffiti Removal to Boost Downtown Vibrancy

Chinatown north as seen in May of 2022. Paula E. Kirman

The Chinatown and Area Business Improvement Association publicly applauds the City of Edmonton for their recently announced sidewalk cleaning and graffiti removal initiative. It is the right “first step” to healing the downtown core and we know, we “were” the worst affected area in downtown Edmonton.

Edmontonians should know that Chinatown has a very comprehensive cleaning and graffiti removal program which we term the “Chinatown Solution” but it is much, much more than graffiti removal and power washing sidewalks: it involves our entire community. Over the past six weeks we have made great strides improving Chinatown with a simple “homegrown” solution that also works to alleviate some of the unique problems that face Chinatown, namely houselessness, social disorder, and large-scale encampments. We made a very conscious choice when designing our “Chinatown Solution” to partner with Hope Mission and employ individuals from Hope’s recovery program to power wash Chinatown’s sidewalks, to squeegee all storefront windows, to remove garbage, and so much more. This has provided dozens of people the opportunity to re-enter the work force, and regain a sense of pride and community belonging.

This program has exceeded all of our expectations and we are now expanding its scope. In light of the City’s recent focus on cleaning and graffiti removal for downtown, our “Chinatown Solution” is a model that other communities should consider following. Our success is measured with our results and we have seen exceptional results with increased vibrancy, a strong community partnership with all residents of our community and, of course, a very clean and welcoming Chinatown. The new Chinatown has been noticed by shoppers and our repeat visitors as well as by our residents and shop owners. Everyone wants to have a sense of pride in where they live and where they work; it is human nature and the Chinatown Solution has moved the needle in a very positive direction. We welcome all of Edmonton to come and see for yourself. We could not have accomplished this without the benefit of the Alberta Government’s Civil Society Grant which started us on this path, the dedicated work of Hope Mission’s staff, and the wonderful people in their recovery program. We wish you continued success and Chinatown is proud to be a part of your journey.

The City’s graffiti removal and cleaning program is a powerful “first step” in the right direction, but downtown Edmonton and Chinatown still have much work to do before we see a full recovery. I want to let Edmontonians know that there is hope and if the hardest hit area like Chinatown can resolve the bad stigma of unkept streets and blowing garbage while lifting others to rejoin our society, then the downtown core can surely do the same.

Stephen Hammerschmidt is the Chinatown and Area BIA’s Director of Economic Recovery.

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