The Richmond Night Market was supposed to be crowded with tourists around this time, but the 24-acre venue looks like a “ghost town” after COVID-19 shelved it all.
“Just looking at the empty land makes me feel very heartbroken,” said night market owner Raymond Cheung, who recalled old memories when hundreds of food vendors packed the place and music was in the air.
“Now, the summer is almost over, but there is no government funding available to help us.”
To celebrate the 20th anniversary for this year’s market, Cheung’s team spent almost $800,000 on tents, designing coupon books and customizing and shipping other equipment for setup.
“Now we are sitting here with four containers of equipment that we can’t use for the next year. The tents and coupon books all have the 2020 logo written on it. Now they are all going to be trashed,” said Cheung.
As well as the wasted equipment, Cheung is equally concerned that the lack of financial assistance from the federal or provincial government will lead to the night market sinking for good.
“We’ve already spent millions of dollars on rent and refunded 280 vendors who have signed up in March. We received zero income this year,” noted Cheung.
In late July, the federal government announced rolling out over $95 million in federal funding to help businesses throughout Canada.
Cheung was very positive that “there has to be something for us since the night market is one of the driving forces for the local tourism industry” when he heard the news.
However, Cheung said they applied for seven programs under different categories, ranging from musical events to farmers’ markets.
But none of them fits his niche business, which combines musical performances, food and retail stores.
“It’s like every time we asked for help we hit into a big wall. Nobody is thinking of us,” added Cheung.