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Future of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market still a concern for the community

South Vancouver business owners want to see action

Harinder S. Toor, owner of Punjab Food Centre, has seen a drastic decline in business over the last decade. Photo by Myra Dionne
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Reported by Myra Dionne

Business owners want less conversation about future changes to the Punjabi Market and more action.

Punjabi Market Fold Fabrics is one of the few shops left in the historic area of Vancouver, B.C. Photo by Myra Dionne

The City of Vancouver, in partnership with LOCO BC, invited community members to meet and discuss the state of the historic market last week. One meeting took place Wednesday at Sunset Community Centre and another Thursday at Langara College.

Satwant K. Bunwait, owner of Amrit Fashions, remembers when the market was vibrant and busy. Since 2010, her business has drastically declined, making her work a second job.

“Almost seven years this market is struggling. Rather than doing something here, they come and give a lecture or whatever, but what are they really doing for the small businesses?” said Bunwait, who attended the meeting facilitated by the city about developing a vision for the future of the Punjabi Market.

Conversations still needed
According to Jessie Singer, a planner for the city, the meetings came in response to comments made in 2015 about zoning development on the corner of 49th Avenue and Main Street.

“People wanted to say great, change is happening to the area…but we also have some other concerns about the general state of the Punjabi Market as a kind of cultural and community hub,” Singer said.

For several business owners, the old Punjabi Market died a long time ago. They said necessary changes are taking too long and they hoped the meetings would bring about immediate results.

A lot of talk
Punjab food centre is owned by Harinder S. Toor who has been working in the historic community since 1982. Photo by Myra Dionne

Harinder S. Toor, owner of Punjab Food Center, said concerns about Langara students parking in front of his shop, beautification of the Punjabi Market, funding for Punjabi festivals and housing are among the problems community members have complained about for years.

“We were told this meeting is a three-hour meeting. We came here to spend our time and make sure we get something out of it,” Toor said. “The meeting was done and no results came up.”

Singer said the meetings were meant to engage conversation and not results. She said there is no clear date for resolving concerns but is anticipating consultation reports.

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