Vancouver officially recognizes Little Italy on the Drive

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      Business owners and residents on Commercial Drive will have more to celebrate during this year’s upcoming Italian Day.

      City councillors unanimously voted on Wednesday (April 6) to officially recognize eight blocks on the Drive—four blocks north and four blocks south of First Avenue—as Little Italy.  

      The motion comes almost a year after it was originally put forward by NPA Councillor Melissa De Genova. According to the most-recent motion, the original was delayed due to hold-ups with the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood’s community-planning process.  Wednesday’s motion, it said, will expedite the process and separate it from the Grandview-Woodlands planning.

      De Genova said she is thrilled the city has agreed to recognize the name Little Italy in time for Italian Day on June 12.

      “It’s a wonderful day for the Italian community in Vancouver,” De Genova said in a statement.” For many years, this stretch of Commercial Drive has been unofficially recognized as Little Italy, but today it’s official.”

      Randy Rinaldo, one of the organizers of the Italian Day event, spoke before city councillors in support of the motion. He said the designation of Little Italy would make Vancouver a more fun and exciting place to live in and visit.

      “I look forward to cutting the ribbon with each and every one of you in lieu of Little Italy,” he said.

      Councillor De Genova asked Rinaldo how official recognition would help Italian Day and the community.

      “Organizing an event like Italian Day is very expensive,” Rinaldo said. “There’s nothing like the designation of Little Italy that will make this the greatest Italian Day we’ve ever had.”

      In the statement, De Genova commended city staff for expediting the process and making sure the designation will be in place in time for Italian Day.

      “Vancouver prides itself on its multicultural character, and we are fortunate to have Chinatown, Little Saigon, and the Punjabi market as cultural hubs in our city,” the statement reads. “Today we can add Little Italy to the list.”

       Follow Jocelyn Aspa on Twitter @jocelynaspa