Rinaldo explains how Little Italy-Vancouver came to be, which included a ribbon & umbilical cord cutting.

Il Centro vice president Randy Rinaldo said in a recent interview with the Straight that when he was growing up, it bothered him that other cities had a Little Italy while Vancouver didn’t. So he sought the blessing of community leaders—including D’Onofrio, former Il Centro president Luca Citton, former Il Centro executive director Mauro Vescera, and current Il Centro president Michael Cuccione—to create a Facebook page in 2016 to try to make this happen. It immediately generated a bunch of likes, which led to a meeting between Rinaldo and De Genova.

Rinaldo recalled that within two or three weeks, De Genova had prepared a motion. But the Vision Vancouver majority shuffled the idea off for discussion in the Grandview-Woodland planning process.

“Then Melissa did a second push right before Italian Day,” Rinaldo said. “At that point, I guess the rest of council realized the support that this had and we were able to extract it from the Grandview-Woodland community plan and get it through.”

On the day that Little Italy was proclaimed, Rinaldo’s wife went into labour. He still managed to be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Commercial Drive in 2016 before rushing to the hospital in time for the birth of his second son.

“My wife knew how important it was for me to be there for this moment I’ve waited for since I was a child,” Rinaldo said with a laugh.
“I got to the hospital with 28 minutes to spare. So I cut the umbilical cord and the ribbon.”

His dream is to see Little Italy become like an Italian Disneyland with green, white, and red all over the place, including on fire hydrants and street signs. He, like Fuoco, also pines for Italian arches.

“I want it to be a real tourist attraction—a place not just for Italians but for all cultures to come and enjoy and have that Italian experience.”

When asked how people should feel when they visit Little Italy, Rinaldo responded “warm and fuzzy”.

“Italians are lovers, not fighters,” he quipped. “We want Commercial Drive to be a destination to bring your family or perhaps your significant other.”

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