Richmond launches dialogue about language on signs

THE City of Richmond has launched a multi-pronged campaign to explore the issue of language on signs in the context of community harmony. As part of the process, a moderated, multi-stakeholder forum will be held in March to facilitate community dialogue on the issue.

The SFU Centre of Dialogue will moderate the community workshop on Thursday, March 12 from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at the John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse, 7277 River Road. Workshop participants will hear about Richmond’s efforts to promote and strengthen community harmony, explore the topics of language on signs and community harmony and share their own perspectives on the topic.

The workshop is free, but space is limited. Interested participants must pre-register by Friday, March 6 by email at

In addition to the community workshop, community members and groups will be able to get more information on the program and provide input via the City’s online discussion platform at from March 6-20. Specific comments can also be sent via email to or by mail or hand to Richmond City Hall, 6911 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6Y 2C1, Attn. Signs Consult. Additional information is also available on the City’s website at

The City is also consulting with various community business organizations, including the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee, Richmond Chamber of Commerce, BC Signs Association and individual sign companies, Canadian Race Relations Council, Laurier Institution, Richmond Chinese Community Society , Chinese Federation of Commerce of Canada and the Chinese Real Estate Professionals Association of BC to gather feedback on the issue and to encourage the inclusion of English on signage and publications through education.

The City has also commissioned staff from the UBC School of Geography to conduct a scan and analysis of how other communities are dealing with the issue of language on signs and how they promote community harmony.

Information gathered by the City will be provided to Richmond Council later this spring. The program responds to a referral from Council last year, which directed staff to study the issue of language on signs, undertake public and stakeholder consultation and develop recommendations for possible future regulatory, education or other measures.

Staff were also directed to consult with business owners to encourage more use of English language on signs. In response, City staff have undertaken a comprehensive program to educate Richmond businesses about the importance to community harmony of including English on all signage and advertising material. Multilingual staff are visiting every business in the City Centre on a zone-by-zone basis to inform them about sign bylaw requirements and discuss the issue of language on signs. The intent of the outreach project is to achieve compliance and promote community harmony with education rather than taking a strictly regulatory approach.

The City is also using the annual Business License renewal process to ensure that businesses are aware of the need for proper sign permits and to encourage inclusion of 50 per cent English content on signs. While this message was previously included in business license application forms, a special insert in both English and Chinese has now been produced to ensure that language is not a barrier to the message.  This approach will ensure that all licensed businesses in Richmond will have received a friendly written notice within one year.

New multilingual information packages on starting a small business in Richmond have been developed to help ensure businesses are aware of Sign Bylaw and other regulatory requirements.




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