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'Changes have to be made': Sohi outlines new Chinatown safety plan after community push for action

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi unveiled a new action plan to help make Edmonton's Chinatown community safer for all and revitalize the area, including a grant for area businesses to hire private security.

On Monday, Sohi revealed the more than 25 recommendations, including 14 immediate actions the city would undertake to help address business and resident concerns.

On May 18, two men in their 60s who worked at different businesses in the Chinatown community — Ban Phuc Hoang and Hung Trang — were beaten to death in the Chinatown neighbourhood.

A 36-year-old has since been charged with second-degree murder in both deaths. 

The incident reignited outrage that Chinatown had been neglected by the city for years, with dozens of community members attending a city council meeting last week reinforcing the need for change and an emotional rally on Saturday with hundreds calling for action.

"Edmonton's Chinatown community has suffered immense pain with the tragic loss of two community members," Sohi said. "This breaks my heart.

"Changes have to be made."

Effective immediately, the city says it will give $300,000 to the Chinatown and Area Business Association to cover the costs of hiring private security contractors and create a $1 million vibrancy fund to help Chinatown recover post-COVID.

Throughout the area, the city will create a needle cleanup program, clean streets and alleys daily, and complete a comprehensive safety audit of Chinatown with recommendations for further action.

"Chinatown has been neglected for too long," Sohi said. "Our goal is to make Edmonton safer for every single person in the city."

"They've been crying for help," he added. "I'm glad that all of us are listening to that cry for help, and we're willing to work together to tackle and make sure that not only are we looking for immediate solutions, but we are also looking for long-term solutions because these are very complicated interconnected challenges."

In addition, the city will implement a public washroom plan for the Chinatown area and clarify procedures and authorities for bylaw officers, private security contractors, and police so that businesses and community partners understand what enforcement options are available.

Integrated joint teams of Edmonton Police Service officers, firefighters, paramedics, social agencies, and peace officers will be deployed and will liaise with private security contractors at Chinatown businesses.

The city will work with EPS and bylaw officers to achieve almost 24/7 presence within Chinatown in coordination with area private security.

On top of the immediate actions, the city will initiate longer-term planning to create a five-year plan for a "decentralization" of social services "to limit the concentration in Chinatown."

The city plans to advocate the provincial government to limit the pharmacy concentration in Chinatown, consider limiting new permits for new social agencies in the area, and prohibit releasing offenders from provincial corrections facilities into houselessness.

"This is something that we will have to work with both the provincial and federal government," Sohi said. "The reality is, when people are released from prison, yes, they've done their time, but there's got to be a transition in place so they don't end up on the street."

Part of the plan will see the city commence a Chinatown promotion campaign to help attract patrons back to area businesses.

The city will work with social agencies, charities, and faith-based groups to review any operations that "negatively impact businesses and residents," ensure they do not "randomly" drop-off aid in the Chinatown area, and ask groups to "re-consider" methods of food distribution to decrease litter.

According to the city action plan, administration will review if there are opportunities to clarify bylaws around which organizations can deliver aid to those in need in the Chinatown area.

"One thing that we heard from community leaders is that there’s a high concentration of social agencies and social programs in a very confined area throughout a certain number of blocks," Sohi said. 

"Those social agencies provide very valuable services. They’re part of the solutions. But there also has to be a way to look at how we spread the burden throughout the city."

Sohi said he would be meeting with Justice Minister Tyler Shandro on Tuesday afternoon, just days after Shandro invoked Alberta's Police Act and required the city to present a "public safety plan" to combat crime in downtown Edmonton.

The mayor will also be meeting with Social Services Minister Jason Luan and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis.

"We will lay out the work we are doing and have been doing," Sohi added. "But we will also ask them for their help. We have been calling for interventions from day one. And I'm glad that they've started listening to us now, and I look forward to the conversation we will have with them."


Sandy Pon, Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society of Edmonton co-founder and board member for the Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton, said she was glad to see the city was finally taking action.

"The points that he has put together in that plan have been points we have been asking to be done for a long time," Pon told CTV News Edmonton. "The solutions that we have suggested are finally being implemented.

"It is really sad that it took two tragedies to culminate to this point," she added.

Pon said having more boots on the ground right now will calm fear and safety concerns, but there still remains a long road ahead toward solving all the issues in the area.

"It's a great start," Pon said. "Every little step helps. It's going to build up momentum."

"I am very hopeful that we are going to make a big change," she added. "I am very, very hopeful we are going to get some results." Top Stories

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