Richmond’s population is now 54 percent ethnic Chinese and three-quarters nonwhite or aboriginal, according to the 2016 census, a stark change from 25 years ago, when Caucasians made up nearly 70 percent of residents. Restaurants serving cuisines from practically every Chinese province line the city’s streets, where Mandarin and a slew of Chinese dialects are far more likely to be heard than English.
But the city’s demographic transformation has fueled ethnic tensions, sometimes pitting neighbor against neighbor. For years, some residents have complained about the proliferation of commercial signs written solely in Chinese, which prompted the City Council in the fall to adopt a policy encouraging businesses to include English on at least 50 percent of signage.
In December, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal agreed to hear a case filed by a group of condominium owners who say they have been racially discriminated against by their elected condominium council, whose members are all Chinese and conducted meetings only in Mandarin, refusing to use English.
While many residents take pride in Richmond’s ethnic diversity, some discovered fliers in their mailboxes in the days after Donald J. Trump’s election as United States president that read “Step aside, whitey! The Chinese are taking over!” and exhorted white people to “Save Richmond” by joining the so-called alt-right movement.
But cultural (if not always musical) harmony resounds at Party World, one of several karaoke clubs in Richmond that cater to the hankerings of metro Vancouver’s soaring Chinese population.
“KTV is crazy fun because you can act ridiculous together,” said Jeffrey Hou, 20,…