Most of the plaques decorating the pillars of the majestic arches linking historic Chinatown to downtown Vancouver have been missing for about a year.
That’s how long Kelly Ip has been in touch with city staff about replacing the panels lost from West Pender Street’s Chinatown Millennium Gate. He was formerly the vice president of the now-defunct Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Society, the group that championed the landmark’s construction.
According to Ip, Daniel Ho, who works nearby as office manager of the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association, noticed the metal plates gone on June 5, 2014, likely stolen to sell as scrap metal.
That same day, Ip, a sought-after marriage commissioner and a former federal government manager, got in touch with city hall about the situation.
Spanning Pender just west of Shanghai Alley, site of the first Chinese settlement in the city, the gate is the pride of the ethnic community, serving as the starting point of Chinese New Year parades since it was dedicated in 2002. It’s also a popular tourist attraction.
“We informed city hall about it, but nothing has happened,” Ip told the Straight at the archway.
He counted 18 missing plaques that contained the names of individuals and institutional donors that helped construct the commemorative structure, which was funded mostly by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments at the time.
According to him, these were actually substitute panels installed after the original plaques were vandalized through graffiti a few years ago.
The bronze rings that encircle the bases of the four pillars of the three-storey-high gateway have not yet been stripped away by thieves. The two stone lions guarding the western side are grimy, and in need of a wash. Ip noted that the gate is city property.
City hall didn’t respond to an interview request.
“It’s so ugly,” Ip said, pointing to the now smeary surfaces the plaques were taken from. “It’s such an eyesore. It shouldn’t stay like this for a year.”