Businessman and humanitarian Milton Wong is the recipient of the city's highest honour.
Today, the City of Vancouver issued a statement announcing that Wong has received the Freedom of the City award.
“Milton Wong is highly deserving of this recognition for his tremendous contributions to Vancouver,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a city news release. “His leadership, generosity and dedication have touched the lives of so many citizens and he’s truly an inspiration to us all.”
Wong, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is suffering from cancer and was unavailable for comment.
He founded the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival, played a pivotal role in the creation of Science World, and has raised funds for the Salvation Army, Red Cross, B.C. Cancer Agency, and YMCA.
Wong, a former chancellor of Simon Fraser University, provided a significant donation to move SFU's School for Contemporary Arts to the Woodward’s complex downtown. He created the Laurier Institution, which educates people about the economic and social implications of diversity, and he's on the board of the Trudeau Foundation.
Wong achieved fame in the business world in the 1980s as a money manager, and eventually sold his investment firm to a bank. He has been a member of several corporate boards, including Rio Tinto Alcan, Seaspan Corp., and Day4Energy Inc.
Wong is the second Vancouver resident of Asian descent to be awarded the Freedom of the City. Former lieutenant-governor David Lam received this honour in 1993.
Four others have received the award in the past decade: former mayor Art Phillips (2010), orchestra leader Dal Richards (2005), former prime minister Kim Campbell (2002), and architect Arthur Erickson (2002).
The Freedom of the City is only granted with the unanimous consent of council. Wong can now be called a Freeman of the City of Vancouver. Recipients receive a framed scroll, the Freedom Medal, and a decal that lets them park for free at city meters.
Related article: Let's change the name of Dunsmuir Street to Milton Wong Boulevard