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Chinatown community patrols document vandalism, help area businesses to build sense of safety


A group of volunteers is regularly conducting community patrols in Chinatown to help document vandalism and make the area a safer space for area businesses and residents.

The Chinatown Transformative Collaborative Society of Edmonton (CTC) leads the volunteer efforts to help revitalize the area by doing regular garbage cleanups and graffiti inventories.

"There's a lot of effort being put towards Chinatown right now through various agencies in the city to clean up Chinatown, so the need for that is not as great as doing a check on vandalism," said Margaret Smith, the city's McCauley and Chinatown revitalization coordinator.

Volunteers will walk through the neighbourhood and note any newly smashed windows, windows needing to be boarded up, graffiti, or hate messaging that's been tagged in alleys or on the side of businesses.

"What we're trying to do is create an inventory of smashed windows and create some sort of window replacement program," Smith said. "(It's) very cost prohibitive to a person who has their windows smashed over and over again.

"Because the more claims they make with their insurance, the more of a liability they are for their insurance company, and they become a risk," Smith added.

The group is working with all levels of government to try and secure funding to help area businesses cover the costs of replacing windows and cleaning graffiti. While doing their graffiti inventory walks, volunteers will also hand out naloxone kits.

Ultimately, the goal for the CTC is to make the area cleaner and safer, in both real and perceived terms.

"It's more than about litter and graffiti and smashed windows," Smith said. "It's about boots on the ground, seeing what's happening and then reporting back to agencies, like REACH and the City of Edmonton."

Jason Wang, a regular volunteer, says he's been going to Chinatown since he was a kid.

"My parents were always taking me to get groceries or go to the restaurants," Wang told CTV News Edmonton. "But in the last few years, especially since COVID started, a lot of us just stopped going — especially with other restaurants opening and places like T&T opening outside of the city centre.

"A lot of us stopped going, so I thought, I want to give back," he added. "I want to show that I still care about Chinatown."

Wang says business owners and area residents often come out to thank the volunteers for their efforts to take care of the community and for tracking the damage and vandalism trends.

"(Volunteering has) been a really positive experience," he said. "Obviously, it's frightening, and it's really disheartening to see that the state of Chinatown now. Residents and people like me, just visitors are too scared, and the business owners are scared too."

"Hopefully, we can turn it around and hopefully, we can make it a place where everyone's welcome, and everyone wants to come here." Top Stories

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