Business Signage

Community Engagement

Language on Signage

Current Outreach and Engagement Efforts


The City of Richmond has launched a multi-pronged outreach and education campaign to explore the issue of language on signs in the context of community harmony. The campaign responds to a referral from Council last year (October 27, 2014), 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.

A report providing an update on signage and community harmony was presented to Richmond City Council on May 25, 2015. At that meeting, Council approved an update to Sign Bylaw No. 5560, which will include a de-cluttering regulation without a language provision.

Outreach and engagement initiatives will continue. These include:

Community Workshop
Thank you to everyone who participated in the City hosted community workshop on March 12, 2015 to explore the language on signage issue in the context of community harmony. We were pleased to see so many of you in attendance.

Press the play button and then the square button in the bottom, right-hand corner to watch the video in full screen HD.
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The materials presented at the workshop are provided below:

Press the play button and then the square button in the bottom, right-hand corner to watch the video in full screen HD.

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Sign Inspections
  • A pilot project deploying multilingual temporary staff to conduct site visits to businesses in the City Centre to promote community harmony by encouraging the inclusion of English on signage and advertisement. 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 City’s Community Bylaws staff are referring unilingual signs and third party signs to the sign inspectors for follow-up. The intent of the outreach project is to achieve compliance and promote community harmony with education rather than taking a strictly regulatory approach.
Business License Renewals
  • Notifying all businesses in Richmond through the Business License renewal process year round to ensure that businesses have proper sign permits and to encourage inclusion of 50% English content on signs.  A special insert in both English and Chinese with contact information has been produced for this purpose 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. 
Collaborating With Community Stakeholders
  • Consulting with various community partners, 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 efforts.  These organizations favour education over enforcement to promote community harmony and eager to be part of the outreach and public consultation.
  • Connecting with 79 sign companies in writing throughout the region as well as their provincial and national organization to inform them of Council’s direction to encourage the inclusion of 50% English content in future sign applications.
  • Meeting with local property management companies to explain the purpose of the outreach program and to provide information/support to assist in their communication with the business operators.
Working with Richmond’s small businesses
  • Preparing education material for distribution, in consultation with the City’s Economic Development staff, to highlight the steps and requirements to start a small business in Richmond and promote community harmony.  This material will be translated into Chinese. 
PDF Document Business in Richmond - English

PDF Document Business in Richmond - Chinese Traditional

PDF Document Business in Richmond - Chinese Simplified

Exploring the Topic of Community Harmony
  • Engaging UBC faculty members with speciality in community harmony/social cohesion 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.
Council Referral
Some signs in the City are in a language other than English. The combination of this fact and the circulation of promotional materials that are not in English have led to some public concerns about the need to regulate signs so they must include English.

At the October 27, 2014 Council meeting, Council made several referrals related to the language on signs issue, which include:
  1. as a priority, staff consult with the sign owners to encourage more use of the English language on their sign;
  2. staff engage in a broad public consultation on the language on signs issue;
  3. the language on signs issue be referred to the Intercultural Advisory Committee, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond Chinese Community Society, and other appropriate business associations for comment; 
  4. staff compile relevant information on the effect of the sign issue on community harmony that would be necessary to support adoption of a bylaw regulating language on signs should that option be considered in the future; and
  5. staff report back to Council within 6 months on the effectiveness of the measures identified in recommendations 1, 2, and 3 for Council to determine if a bylaw needs to be considered.

The minutes for this Council meeting can be accessed on the City’s website:
October 27, 2014 - Minutes

2012 – 2015 Richmond Intercultural Strategic Plan and Work Program
The City has established the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee (RIAC) to enhance intercultural harmony and strengthen intercultural cooperation in Richmond. The Intercultural Strategic Vision and Work Program, developed by the RIAC, supports the City and the Richmond community in making Richmond more appealing, liveable, and well-managed. The document can be found on the City’s website at the following link:

PDF Document Strategic Plan and Work Program

Richmond's Social Development Strategy
Richmond’s Social Development Strategy, developed through a robust and extensive community engagement process, is one of the first such comprehensive community plans of its type in BC.  

The Strategy functions like the social equivalent of the Official Community Plan and will guide the City’s decisions and resource allocations on social matters for the next ten (10) years. This over-arching strategy aids in identifying key social development issues facing Richmond, priority setting, pursuing senior government funding, eliciting support from other partners and being responsive to the social needs of Richmond residents.

It envisions Richmond in 2022 as an inclusive, engaged, and caring community—one that considers the needs of the present and future generations, values and builds on its diversity, nurtures its social capital, and treats its citizens with fairness and respect. Its framework articulates goals, strategic directions, and recommended actions divided into short, medium and long term timelines.

Strategic Direction 5: Build on Richmond’s Cultural Diversity, Goal 2: Engaging Our Citizens and actions specific to facilitating a socially healthy and inclusive community can be found on page 43. The view the complete Strategy follow the link below:
PDF Document Social Development Strategy