VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It was supposed to be a landmark that would help bring tourists to Vancouver’s struggling Punjabi Market District, but business owners along Main Street are still waiting for the India Gate to be built.
It’s been five years.
“Suddenly it died,” says Daljit Sidhu with the Punjabi Market Association. “We tried to reach out to people and they never called us back. I don’t really know what happened, if their priorities changed or what?”
The BC government unveiled plans for the monument back in 2008 and Vancouver City Council supported construction of the monument soon after. Sidhu expected the $3-million dollar project to be ready in time for the 2010 Olympics.
“Somehow, it has been neglected by the three levels of government,” he says. “If they can cooperate with us and give us a hand, I think it can make a difference.”
The district could use a difference-maker; a report that went to council recently revealed retail property values have plummeted by 15 per cent in the neighbourhood. Part of the reason is people in the area leaving for Surrey where the population is roughly a third South Asian.
Councillor Kerry Jang says Chinatown was experiencing similar struggles, but it’s starting to rebound, thanks in part to the Chinatown Economic Revitalization Plan. He feels the Punjabi Market District could use a similar strategy.
“A gate is one way of marketing an area, but the area does have street signs and banners and everything else,” says Jang.
“Really, it’s about being able to broaden the appeal. How to do you draw people into an area? A gate is one way, but there are other ways, as well. It’s about good Indian food and good Indian products that appeal to everybody that will make the difference.”