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Councillor vs. councillor

Chris Bryan, staff reporter

Malcolm Brodie is going it alone.

The Richmond councillor declared his intention Wednesday to run for mayor in the upcoming byelection tentatively scheduled for Oct. 13. Brodie joins fellow councillor Derek Dang in the running for the top job.

Former mayor Greg Halsey-Brandt resigned last week after being elected as a Liberal MLA.

Brodie’s supporters were lined up for the press conference at the Executive Inn, a roll that includes Richmond Canadian Alliance MP Joe Peschisolido and Richmond Civic New Democrat councillors Harold Steves and Linda Barnes.

Brodie, a councillor since 1996 under the Richmond Non-Partisan Association banner, revealed that he would be breaking that tie, to run as an independent.

“I’m aligned only with the community’s interests,” Brodie said of his decision. “My appeal is to all citizens of Richmond.”

He added that he is a “team leader and facilitator” on council, and could best continue that role without affiliating himself.

“As the mayor, I will set the tone and lead council toward the consensus that is required to achieve good decision-making,” he said. There are now five NPA councillors on council.

Although Brodie said he is confident to be running as an independent, Richmond NPA president Alex Bovey didn’t think it was a good idea.

“I’m very disappointed that he seems to lack the faith in our organization,” Bovey said.

“If he thinks he can win the next election I would have thought he can win our nomination. We’ve accepted his resignation—with regret.”

During Halsey-Brandt’s reign, from 1990 to 2001, the NPA only ran a candidate against him once. Former mayor Gil Blair was a NPA candidate in the 1990 election in which he was defeated.

The theme of consensus-building, and also “clear-thinking” were echoed in the testimonials of the supporters who spoke at Brodie’s press conference.

“He constantly tries to build bridges of understanding, and is not afraid to make tough leadership decisions,” said Faye Erbe, an elementary school principal.

Peschisolido also emphasized consensus in his endorsement of Brodie.

“There are individuals and leaders that are able to transcend party lines,” Peschisolido said. “My friend Malcolm Brodie, in my view, is one of those leaders.”

Steves praised Brodie’s work as the chair of the city’s planning committee, a title he billed as “second only to the mayor’s job” politically.

“Malcolm has show he is above petty politics, and can work with people from all the community,” Steves said.

Brodie listed traffic, community safety, heritage, the environment and taxes among the chief issues on his agenda.

Upon hearing the news of Brodie’s announcement, Dang said “it’s about time.”

“I don’t think Malcolm is any surprise. He should have done this a while ago because, man, he’s been maneuvering long enough.”

Dang announced his intent to run for mayor earlier this year.

He said he wished Brodie good luck.

“But not enough to beat me though,” he said.

Brodie said Tuesday that he felt his timing was the appropriate approach.

“The mayor has resigned,” he said. “Now it’s time to announce.”

Although Dang, who counts the support of Richmond East MLA Linda Reid, is the only person declaring interest in the NPA endorsement so far, Bovey said there are “two or three” other people interested.

Coun. Bill McNulty said he would decide on whether to run this week.

A meeting will likely take place within the first week of August to choose the candidate, Bovey said.

“I intend to run for mayor, and do it in the best possible way I can,” Dang said. “And that should include the NPA. I don’t intend to lose the nomination process or the election.”

Brodie and Dang will have to resign their council seats in order to run for mayor. With those two, former councillor Ken Johnston, now a Liberal MLA, and Halsey-Brandt gone, that will leave four vacancies on council.

High speed claims Hugh Boyd student

Martin van den Hemel, staff reporter

A high-speed crash claimed the life of Grade 12 Hugh Boyd student Joseph Lui early Saturday morning and police believe street racing was to blame.

Lui was killed after he was thrown from his new 2001 BMW 330ci sports coupe, which flipped several times on Alderbridge Way Saturday around 3 a.m. Lui, just 18, was pronounced dead at the scene. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Richmond RCMP believe Lui was racing another car—thought to be a red or orange newer model Volkswagen Jetta—when he lost control of his recently purchased $48,000 BMW less than 50 metres east of Garden City Road.

Ironically, his car came to a rest near a light standard displaying the posted speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour.

But police suspect Lui, alone in the car at the time, was far exceeding the speed limit as he approached the intersection.

Police were releasing few details about the accident, but RCMP Const. Peter Thiessen said police have information that leads them to believe Lui was involved in other incidents of road racing before the final crash that claimed his life.

According to a friend, Lui wasn’t a street racer at all, but preferred to spend his free time at a local arcade, or play snooker with his buddies at Hot Shot Billiards, a popular hangout less than 100 metres from where Lui died.

In fact on Friday night, just hours before the accident, Lui was engrossed in his favourite videogame, King of Fighters, at one of his favourite haunts, Tahan Video Games arcade on No. 3 Road.

Andy Yu, a 19-year-old student from Langara College, said he saw Lui alone at the arcade around 11 p.m. Friday.

Yu said he was shocked when he learned of Lui’s death, describing him as a nice guy.

“He was so friendly and talkative,” Yu said from the arcade Monday afternoon where he was sitting beside the game Lui so enjoyed.

Yu told The Richmond Review that Lui bought his new BMW about a month ago.

But he said Lui preferred playing arcade games or snooker over racing his powerful 225-horsepower sports car.

By all accounts, Lui wasn’t a street racer or the type of kid to get himself into trouble. That’s what makes Saturday morning’s accident all the more troubling to those who knew Lui.

Bob Boisvert was Lui’s career preparation counselor at Hugh Boyd.

“This year Joseph was on a mission. It’s sad he will not fulfill the potential that was coming to the forefront.”

Lui was planning to attend the University of British Columbia, where he hoped to pursue a career in computing sciences.

A solid B student, Boisvert said Lui received the type of compliments from teachers that would make any parent proud.

“Your attitude, effort and achievement in this course is commendable,” one report card stated. “It is a a pleasure to teach this student.”

That same message was repeated in several other report cards.

Boisvert described Lui as a polite, pleasant student with a bright future.

Lui’s classmates at Hugh Boyd were offered counselling as they grieved his death.

An impromptu memorial of burned incense sticks, flowers, arcade tokens, cigarettes and Lui’s favourite foods—fried chicken wings, shrimp crackers and wrapped candies—were laid at the scene of the accident along with messages of grief.

Police are continuing their investigation and would like anyone that witnessed the crash to contact them at 278-1212.

Const. Peter Thiessen said police are now looking for that second vehicle.

The outcome of Saturday’s accident, Thiessen said, could have been different had Lui been wearing a seatbelt.

Information about a funeral or memorial service for Lui was unavailable at press time Wednesday.

Tall Ships eyes title sponsor

Martin van den Hemel, staff reporter

U.S. organizers are hoping to land a title sponsor for next year’s Tall Ships Challenge that may visit Richmond and four other west coast cities.

Steve Baker, race director for the American Sail Training Association, the body that organizes Tall Ships races, said if a three-year title sponsor is secured, it’s possible that could mean a significant financial contribution to the local budget for August 2002.

Local organizers hope to secure $2 million in sponsorship to arrange a suitable event.

“We don’t know yet whether (a title sponsor would) cover just the four U.S. ports or whether (that would) include the Canadian port,” Baker said.

Next year’s North American race will start in Seattle, visit San Francisco and Los Angeles before ending in San Diego.

The race follows a 30-day sailing from Japan and the ships could use Steveston as a stopover prior to the challenge.

The American Sail Training Association has never had a North American event with a title sponsor, although in Europe, Cuttysark Scots Whisky’s parent company Berry Bros. and Rudd has been a title sponsor for years.

Baker was pleased to hear about last week’s Richmond council decision to spend up to $82,500 on organizing the event. He said a contract will be sent to Richmond in the next few days and hopes it will soon be signed.

Between six and 10 class A vessels, along with as many as 50 smaller vessels, are expected to visit Steveston should the event take place next summer, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from South America and Asia and a lot from Europe,” Baker said of vessels expressing an interest in coming to Steveston.

Baker reiterated that he would prefer the event to happen in one place—rather than shared between two cities—in order to better facilitate the cultural interaction between the crews from different boats from around the world.

Baker said he has been in contact with officials from New Westminster and he restated his preference for having the event in one city.

“The distances aren’t that exciting to me. The more spread out it is, the more disjointed it becomes.”

Meanwhile CBC officials were in Steveston on Saturday to tour the waterside canneries to help them envision the type of radio and television coverage CBC could bring to the Aug. 8 to 12 event.

Sponsorship organizer Bryan Johnstone said the day-long tour, which included a boat ride that gave a waterside perspective of Steveston, was a success.

On Sunday, about four dozen volunteers turned up for the latest Tall Ships meeting during which the group formed the Richmond Maritime Society. Office space has been donated in Steveston, Johnstone said, and a newsletter will soon be started up.

By the end of August, Johnstone said he hopes to have secured commitments of $200,000 worth of sponsorship in addition to landing CBC Radio, Television and Newsworld as media sponsors.

Richmond MP earns new Opposition critic’s role

Chris Bryan, staff reporter

A small shuffle of Stockwell Day’s “shadow cabinet” has left Joe Peschisolido holding an ace.

The Richmond MP will now be the Canadian Alliance party’s critic for Human Resources Development Canada, one of the federal government’s largest departments, controlling a budget of $68 billion annually. Human Resources administers the Labour Code, as well as income assistance programs such as EI and the Canada Pension Plan.

The department has come under fire for funding questionable job creation programs.

Peschisolido, who was formerly National Revenue critic, said he will continue to be involved in the hearings into the foreign assets disclosure rule and also with the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a private member’s bill he introduced into the House last week.

The new role amounts to a senior position in the Alliance’s shadow cabinet, one once held by MP Val Meredith, who has left caucus and wants leader Stockwell Day to resign.

Peschisolido said party members should defer to the party’s constitution, and focus their energy on fulfilling their mandate.

“It’s important now that the Alliance Party turn the page to be a credible opposition to the Liberal,” he said. “That’s what I intend on doing.”

Nurses cool to 60-day cooling off period

B.C. Nurses Union and the Health Sciences Association staged a province-wide walkout Tuesday to protest the provincial government’s enforcement of a 60-day cooling off period.

The cooling off period puts an end to job action by nurses and technicians in a bid to get all sides back to the bargaining table.

Richmond Health Services responded to job action Tuesday by reducing to essential services, serving only urgent and emergent cases.

Areas affected included diagnostic imaging (such as ultrasound, radiology and CT Scans), where about 150 patients were not seen Tuesday. This was in addition to the 314 previously postponed since the start of Health Sciences Association strike activity, hospital spokesman Peter Roaf said.

The same was also the case for outpatient laboratory services and rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, where more than 200 patients’ tests or therapies were postponed.

Nurses have had an overtime ban has been in place since Easter. During that period, 3030 variances have been granted by the union for overtime, according to Diane Baker, vice-chair Richmond Vancouver region of the BC Nurses Union. This amounts to 10 full-time nurses, she said.

Proposed rezoning would set stage for amphitheatre

Martin van den Hemel, staff reporter

The city took the first step in making way for a proposed 6,000-seat amphitheatre Tuesday when councillors considered rezoning a 20-acre parcel of land near SilverCity.

Members of the city’s planning committee considered forwarding a staff recommendation to council that it should rezone four properties on Triangle Road from light industrial zoning to athletics and entertainment district.

Although the proposed rezoning isn’t directly tied to the amphitheatre project—separate negotiations are still underway between music industry partners Sam Feldman, Paul Mercs and Bruce Allen, and city officials—the entertainment facility can’t materialize as planned without the rezoning.

Coun. Bill McNulty expressed concerns about the noise and traffic impact such a facility would have on surrounding neighbours and roadways. He wanted assurances the public will have ample opportunity to express its concerns to council before anything is approved.

“If this is our property, we need to be beyond pure,” McNulty said, adding he is supportive of the project.

He said he would like some preliminary noise tests done in the area that would mimic the type of sound generated during a concert in the proposed facility.

Coun. Malcolm Brodie agreed, adding: “The sound from a soccer pitch is going to be different from Eminem.”

The planning committee, including councillors Lyn Greenhill, Linda Barnes, Brodie and McNulty, supported the staff recommendations which will be forwarded to council for first reading.

Brodie also voiced his opinion that the amphitheatre proposal has a number of sizable hurdles to clear in the coming months and that it is by no means a slam dunk rubber stamping.

“I think this is a fantastic project if it can all be brought together,” Brodie said, referring to noise, traffic and finances as significant issues that still need to be ironed out.

Staff have been asked to submit detailed cost estimates for any proposed expansions to the roadways in the area.

Mercury free vaccine now available

Martin van den Hemel, staff reporter

Parents no longer need to be worried about exposing their babies to a neurotoxin-laced vaccine.

Earlier this month, Health Canada approved a new mercury-free version of the Hepatitis B vaccine, replacing the old vaccine that was the only one in Canada administered to babies that contained the neurotoxin mercury.

The introduction of the vaccine which is free of the preservative thimerosal (containing 49.6 per cent mercury) is hailed as good news by B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Mark Bigham.

“Of course it’s great news. Whenever we can reduce the exposure of mercury from any source, we will gladly rejoice.”

Croft Woodruff of the Chelation Association of Greater Vancouver also welcomed the news.

“It is certainly an admission of what we’ve said all along that mercury shouldn’t be in these vaccines.”

A free province-wide Hepatitis B vaccination program was launched March 1, having vaccinated an estimated 10,000 newborns across B.C. in the past three months.

As of June 1, those newborns who were immunized against Hepatitis B received only the thimerosal-free version of the vaccine. Existing stocks of the Hep B vaccine which contains mercury will still be administered to older children and adults, to whom the theoretical risk of developmental disorders is non existent, Bigham said.

Bigham emphasized that the risk associated with mercury in vaccines was only theoretical while the benefits have long been demonstrated.

Last November, The Richmond Review revealed in a special report that Canadian babies were being exposed through vaccines to levels of mercury many times greater than environmental regulatory bodies like the U.S.-based Environmental Protection Agency permit.

Only two vaccines in Canada contain mercury: the Hepatitis B vaccine and the flu vaccine Fluviral.

Last summer, Indiana Congressman Dan Burton headed a congressional hearing into the possible link between mercury in vaccines and the dramatic increased incidence of autism in babies. Burton, whose grandson was exposed to dozens of times the level of mercury deemed safe during a series of vaccinations, demanded a U.S. recall of all thimerosal-containing vaccines.

Dr. William Walsh, a Naperville, Ill. researcher, suspects that exposure to heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead may be to blame for the rise in the number of children being diagnosed as autistic. He believes autism has its roots in genetic, but is triggered by environmental exposure to heavy metals. His data suggests that some children—perhaps 1 in 200—produce a dysfunctional form of a protein that helps the body excrete toxic metals that can cause development damage, especially in children whose brains haven’t fully matured.

Autism Society of B.C.’s Deborah Pugh said just a decade ago there were only 300 to 400 children in B.C.’s school system who were diagnosed as autistic. Current estimates place that figure at about 1,300, an increase of more than 200 per cent in 10 years. She said autism statistics are generally hard to find because autism isn’t a reportable disease.

SilverCity battles mice

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

If you’ve noticed something scurrying amongst your feet while watching a movie at SilverCity, chances are you weren’t imagining things.

The popular local theatre at No. 6 Road and Steveston Highway continues to battle an unwanted mice problem.

Kelvin Higo, Richmond’s chief public health inspector, said mice have apparently found the facility—surrounded by open fields and next to the water—to be a great place to live.

Theatre management have taken steps to ensure food products are protected from exposure to the mice and continue to try to eradicate the pests.

Higo suspects the mice are living off the discarded popcorn and drinks tossed on the ground by theatre-goers.

Bill Stewart, general manager of SilverCity, described the mouse problem as “totally under control.”

He emphasized that there have never been any problems in areas of food handling and assured The Richmond Review that pest control preventative measures have been taken.

“There’s been the odd sighting (but) we run a clean building and our health inspection backs us up on that,” Stewart said.

Theatres are cleaned between shows and there’s been less than a handful of complaints to the local health department.

City Wide fuels more complaints

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Drivers are fuming again at City Wide Auto Towing, claiming their cars were recently held for ransom after being towed from a downtown Richmond parking lot.

In the past few weeks, about a dozen complaints have been made to city staff regarding the controversial towing firm’s practices at the former site of the Branch No. 5 Legion, next to the Gulf and Fraser Credit Union and the London Drugs at No. 3 Road and Westminster Highway.

Drivers looking for a parking spot have been leaving their vehicles in the lot outside the former legion hall, at 7831 Westminster Hwy. Once the driver is spotted leaving the area by a Daytriper Enterprises employee, a ticket is placed on the vehicle and it is promptly towed off the lot.

The major beef drivers have is that they are required to pay a $35 parking ticket in addition to the towing charges of more than $60 before their vehicle is returned.

Although city staff say the vehicles were towed legally—the owner of the property has a valid city-issued towing permit and has met the requirements of the towing bylaw—staff believe the ticketing isn’t legal.

Coun. Bill McNulty said he’s heard about the problems and he wants city staff to take action. He said the signs on that parking lot are confusing at best.

City staff believe drivers should retain the right to dispute any parking ticket and they don’t believe the existing bylaw permits City Wide to withhold the vehicle until the parking ticket has been paid.

The poorly worded parking ticket states “disputes must be received know (sic) later than thirty days from the date of issue...”

Under the city’s recently changed towing bylaw, amended by council on June 11, the practice of forcing drivers to pay a parking ticket before their vehicle is released is prohibited.

City solicitor Rebecca Finlay said the new bylaw clarifies that tow firms may not charge any fee other than what’s indicated in the bylaw, namely the impound, storage and dropping fees.

City staff are currently gathering evidence from towing victims as they consider pursuing charges against City Wide for breaking the towing bylaw.

In the meantime, city staff urge drivers to carefully read the signs in local parking lots. Staff have indicated that this parking lot on Westminster Highway is the only one generating a sizable quantity of complaints from the public.

Complaints involving City Wide have been few and far between since the City of Richmond revamped its towing bylaw following a series of complaints in the summer of 1998.

City Wide owner Paul Sihata did not return repeated calls for comment by press time.

Coast Mountain turns down bid to end transit strike

David Marsh, MetroValley News

Coast Mountain Bus Company is inflating the costs of the mediated settlement it has rejected, charges the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The company said mediator Vince Ready’s recommended agreement to end the bus strike, approved by union executives last week, would cost the taxpayer-supported organization $27 million, and as a result, could not be accepted.

Union regional director Len Ruel replied the figure has been artificially boosted by adding the amount the bus company hoped to save in the new contract.

“It’s an absolute lie, and that’s what’s so frustrating,” said Ruel, whose union represents 3,300 striking bus drivers, mechanics and SeaBus operators.

Coast Mountain spokesman George Garrett said the figure is based on wages, benefits, and signing bonuses over the three years of Ready’s proposed deal, and does not include the loss of any anticipated cost reductions.

In any event, the failure of Ready’s recommendations to be approved by both sides means there is little sign of an imminent end to the strike.

Ruel said his members, who were voting Tuesday on whether to ratify Ready’s recommendations, will continue to press Greater Vancouver’s municipal politicians to put the heat on Coast Mountain to improve its offer. Garrett said the company has a standing request of the union to return to the bargaining table, which the union hasn’t replied to because it favours Ready’s recommendations.

Ready recommended employees get an 8.5 per cent pay hike over three years, and that the most contentious issues — the company’s proposed efficiency improvements, such as introducing part-time drivers — be referred to a joint management-union committee, allowing buses to return to the road.

The strike is about to enter its 12th week, just two weeks short of a marathon strike in 1984.

Liberals intervene in health disputes

David Marsh, MetroValley News

B.C. nurses say they may continue their job action on a person-by-person basis now that the provincial government has opted to impose a cooling-off period of up to 60 days in their labour dispute.

The Liberals legislated a 60-day break in job actions by the B.C. Nurses’ Union and the Health Sciences Association that have caused the cancellation of about 6,000 surgeries around the province in recent weeks.

Both unions immediately condemned the move, with nurses suggesting they may continue their ongoing action—a ban on overtime — on an individual basis.

“In the face of the government choosing to use such heavy-handed tactics, I suspect our members will exercise their individual right to decline overtime,” B.C. Nurses Union president Debra McPherson said.

Labour Minister Graham Bruce said the cooling-off period is needed because the strikes pose “a real and imminent threat to the health and safety of British Columbians.”

Nurses are seeking an increase to their top rate from $26.50 to $38, arguing the hike is needed to recruit and retain staff. They have been offered $32.

Meanwhile the Health Sciences Association, which represents 14,000 technicians, therapists and various other health-care staff, says it faces similar staff shortages, but the last offer provided only a six per cent increase.

The union is seeking a 27 per cent hike.

Thieves steal senior’s car—and independence

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Doris Bailey has lost two toy pandas, four scooters and a first aid kit.

But most of all, she’s lost her independence.

The items were in the 81-year-old’s car when it was stolen June 4 from the parkade beneath her building.

The Richmond resident is appealing to everyone to check their streets for an abandoned 1986 Honda Accord, license plate DPN 249.

The car is a golden tan colour, with a sunroof and—if the thief left them—a small panda on each side of the back window.

“My nephew gave me the car four or five years ago, because he thought it would add to my life’s interest,” Bailey said.

Although she used it only occasionally, it was crucial in getting her to The Caring Place, where she tutors new Canadians in English.

“That’s one of the great enjoyments of my life, to be with these people,” she said.

She also made home visits to homes of immigrants who didn’t have transportation. With the bus strike, it’s no go on both fronts.

“I can’t do it now, there’s no way,” she said.

“I have no car, there’s no bus.”

Neighbours have been helpful, driving her to church on rainy days and so on, but she doesn’t want to put people out. If there’s any upside to her situation, it’s that she’s learned something.

“Now I know how hard it is for my neighbours who have no car,” she said. “I’m also learning how much we miss the bus service.”

If you think you’ve seen Bailey’s car, contact the Richmond RCMP at 278-1212.

B.C. accident deaths drop by half in 12 years

David Marsh, MetroValley News

Car-crash deaths have dropped by a “startling” 53 per cent in B.C. in 12 years, largely thanks to smarter driver behaviour, a new study says.

The “Street Smart” report, released in June by the Vancouver-based Urban Futures Institute, also credits better roads, vehicles and medical technology for cutting the crash death rate from 19.5 per 100,000 people in 1988 to 9.2 last year.

“That’s startling,” said David Baxter, executive director of Urban Futures. “But it shows we can do stuff to change people’s behaviour.

“What it says to ICBC, the police and society at large is that what we’re doing is working, so let’s keep working on it.”

Baxter pointed to the change in society’s attitude toward drinking and driving. People now routinely appoint a designated driver among themselves when they go out for a drink, he said.

“When I was a kid, that never happened,” he said.

Also thanks to a combination of education and enforcement, B.C. now has one of Canada’s highest rates for the use of seatbelts, which are believed crucial in reducing the severity of injuries in accidents.

While the death rate has dropped sharply, the overall injury rate in car crashes in B.C. remains high compared with other provinces. And Baxter warned that because B.C.’s population is both growing and aging, more work to improve driver, road and vehicle safety will be needed in future.

Baxter envisions some sort of skills-based re-testing system for drivers to retain their licenses when they accumulate a certain number of penalty points, or reach a certain age.

The study found that death rates were highest among males 75 and older, and second-highest among males 15 to 29.

Doug McClelland, spokesman for the Insurance Corporation of B.C., said ICBC is currently reviewing other jurisdictions’ plans for aging drivers but has no immediate intentions to introduce graduated delicensing or some similar system.

McClelland agreed that more will need to be done to maintain the downward trend in fatalities. He said ICBC committed $60 million last year in new road safety programs.

Concert Association announces line-up

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

One of these days there may not be much reason to cross a bridge out of Richmond.

The Richmond Concert Association is one of the reasons why. Over its 17 year history the association has brought top-notch performers to Gateway Theatre, such as Jeff Hyslop, Gustavo Romero and Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Cafe.

This year’s Distinguished Artists Series is 100 per cent Canadian, and has a line-up that should continue the tradition of high-quality, professional performances that stretch from ballet to jazz to classical.

“Here’s an opportunity to get something special right here,” association president Audrey Coutts said.

The quartet Viveza kicks off the season Sept. 28 with what’s billed as a “lively and vivacious” set that includes the great composers from Brahms to Piazolla, with a dash of Spanish music and tango. The group is comprised of two violins a double bass and piano.

Award-winning pianist Joe Sealy will sprinkle a little star dust on the stage in the second show of the season, The Nearness of You, an all-Canadian tribute to Hoagy Carmichael. Sealy will be teamed up with singer Cindy Church and bassist George Keller for a Nov. 24 performance that has been a hit in Ontario since its debut earlier this year.

In a further matching of talent, concert pianist Jane Coop will perform with Triskelion, a trio of violin, viola and cello. Coop has performed around the world with some of the world’s top conductors, and the Feb. 12, 2002 Gateway performance promises to be characterized by innovative interpretation and creativity.

A caffeine injection of pure vocal energy, VocaJava (April 6, 2002) brings a variety of musical styles to their a cappella music, from jazz standard and improv to classical motet. They are strongly influenced by the gospel group Take 6, the Hi-Lo’s and the Swingle Singers.

Capping off the year is a performance that will likely leave audiences clamoring for more. On May 3, 2002, Veronica Tennant, considered Canada’s prima ballerina, has created a new show with pianists Robert Kortgaard and Peter Tiefenbach. Tennant will also narrate this performance, which will survey the wide world of classical ballet, as well as more populist forms such as waltz, the tango, and the minuet.

Each performance also includes a reception to follow, which offers people a chance to meet the artists and socialize.

“You get to see the personal side of these people, too,” Coutts said.

The season begins with its first show Sept. 28 and concludes May 3, 2002.

The Concert Association’s subscription campaign is on now, and discounted season’s passes are available until June 30. Subscriptions are $68 for all five performances until the 30th, then $80 thereafter.

To subscribe, call 279-9810 or 274-2955.

Volunteers help deliver new stands

A group of volunteers put up new bleachers at Thompson Community Centre’s basketball court Saturday. Peggy Ogloff and her team of volunteers received funding from Molson’s Local Heroes program, which provides funding to revitalize existing recreational facilities.

An innovative online record of the community’s living history has won honours for the City of Richmond.

The B.C. Heritage Society recently presented an award of honour to Richmond and the Richmond Heritage Commission in recognition of the Online Heritage Inventory.

The inventory is a database of important heritage resources within the city, linked to the city’s web site ( This site includes historic and modern buildings, landscapes, heritage artifacts and other landmarks of value to the community.

The inventory was added to the city’s web site last year, and is believed to be the only on-line heritage inventory in the country. Its purpose is to document the city’s history and raise awareness about local heritage resources, heritage commission chair Mark Bostwick said.

See the inventory at

Britannia Heritage Shipyard will be kicking off its season of programs this Saturday with a day of family-oriented events.

There will be canoe rides, games, contests, arts and crafts and live music at the celebration, which runs from 12 to 4 p.m., rain or shine.

Charges laid in horrific accident

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

The 21-year-old driver of a dump truck that slammed into 10 vehicles on Highway 99 last August, killing three people, has been charged with dangerous driving.

Gursharan Singh Dhaliwal was in Richmond Provincial Court Thursday where he was formally charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Dhaliwal was driving a Kenworth dump truck hooked up to a trailer when the accident occurred.

At the time, police said they believed the dump truck’s brakes were out of alignment and that could have impacted its stopping ability. The results of a motor vehicle branch inspection has not been released.

According to the Insurance Corporation of B.C., the dump truck passed five of six inspections, the failure dealing with a suspension problem which was subsequently repaired. The truck passed an inspection two months before the accident, while the trailer passed an inspection three months earlier.

Police said drivers of heavy commercial vehicles are required to inspect their brakes before every trip and complete and sign a pre-trip inspection.

An eyewitness said the truck, owned by Richmond-based Harjit and Sons, was travelling in the fast lane when it cut back into the middle of the three southbound lanes when it clipped the rear of two cars, a Toyota and a late-model Plymouth. The Toyota burst into flames.

A number of other vehicles were involved in the collission, which occurred near Fantasy Gardens during the height of the morning rush hour around 8:30.

Ladner’s Bojan Savric, who was on his way to work on that Aug. 2 morning, ignored his personal safety and pulled a woman from the burning Toyota after hearing her screams. He suffered severe burns to his right arm. Two other front-seat passengers died, as did an occupant of the Plymouth.

But Raj Grewal, part owner of the family-owned business Harjit and Sons, said her vehicles are inspected every three months.

“All our equipment is very well kept, there will be no problems that way,” Grewal said last August.

Gursharan Dhaliwal, also known as Gary, had been employed by Harjit and Sons for about three months and was properly licensed.

Miroslav Dudljij, Robert Kinderwater and Andrew Middleton were killed in the accident.

It ain’t easy going green

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Encouraging people to do the right thing can be a challenge. Many want to recycle, reduce and reuse, but don’t know how to go about it.

Suzanne Bycraft had this in mind when she put together the City of Richmond’s Environmental Purchasing Guide, what you might call a “Green Guide for Dummies,” —or, in this case, for city staff.

In 1999, city employees filled out 4,200 purchase orders for everything from stationery and computer equipment to garden tools and plants. More than $67 million was spent that year in total.

Putting together a guide that the 1,600 or so employees would actually use was the big challenge, said the manager of emergency and environmental programs.

“It’s one thing to give people a guide and policy, it’s another to get them to do it,” Bycraft said.

The guide is unique in the Lower Mainland and perhaps the whole country, and gives staff the tools they need to apply when making purchasing decisions.

It explains what makes an “environmentally preferred product,” such as choosing water-based paint rather than oil-based (can contain lead), and also provides a list of companies that sell such things as products made from recycled materials.

But a guide by itself is just another book on the shelf.

Bycraft partnered up with the Greater Vancouver Regional District on a series of workshops to teach staff how to use it.

“People love the guide,” Bycraft said. Although the it was designed for local government, Bycraft said she’d love local companies to adapt the guide for their own use.

“We’re encouraging people to take that idea, steal it, and don’t feel bad and run with it,” she said.

The guide received honourable mention from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently, and can be purchased at city hall for $25, or by calling 244-1253.

Britannia Shipyard set for fall completion

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

It should be full speed ahead at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard come fall.

The city is hoping to begin work on the last phase of the project by the end of the summer.

Some of the piles supporting the front dock will need to be partially replaced, as will the dock platform itself, said Jane Fernyhough, manager of cultural services.

Once it’s done, visitors will be able to walk the circuit, through the main building, along the docks and around the net loft building.

“I think it will be fantastic,” Fernyhough said.

The shipyard is intended to be a working boat repair facility, but will also allow the public to enter and observe the repairs and observe artifacts and interpretive displays. Britannia is currently also a site of numerous summer programs.

Although much work has already been done—such as the replacement of the roof—the front dock is one of the most exciting parts of the project, she added.

“It’s the focal point, it’s the jewel of the site,” Fernyhough said.

“Once that’s done, I think that will be the real draw.”

The main building will be open to the public in the next couple of weeks. Machine shops are being set up in the west side of the building (the leg of the “L”), and boat repair equipment is being installed in the east side.

“They should start work on the boats pretty soon,” she said.

The Shoshanna is currently in the dry-dock under the Britannia roof.

The city is in discussions with the Vancouver Maritime Museum to store the B.C. Packers fishboat featured on the old $5 bill, BCP 45, in Steveston.

It may be repaired at Britannia, Fernyhough said.

Does Richmond need another mall?

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Fairchild Developments Ltd. has received approval of a development permit to build a new, 380,000 square foot, urban-styled mall to replace the current Aberdeen Centre.

The question is, in a soft economy, does Richmond need more retail space?

Danny Leung, vice-president of Fairchild, thinks so.

“We feel we’re not building square footage,” he said. “We believe we’re building a quality product.”

The new Aberdeen will be a shift from a predominately Asian flavour to a more international mix of shops, combining retailers from Asia with name-brand stores and restaurants such as the Gap and McDonalds, he said.

Leung said the $100 million project, designed by noted architect Bing Thom, will be an attraction in itself. A timeline has not yet been determined, he added.

“We’re trying to put a unique product in the city to attract not only Richmond, but the whole region,” Leung said. “We believe the economy will be coming back by the time we finish.”

Thom said the new mall will be like “a little bit of Robson Street in Richmond.”

Its urban design will also be quite different from suburban-style malls, which are surrounded by parking lots. Aberdeen’s building will butt right up against the street at Cambie, Hazelbridge and Browngate, and will hide its parking in a five level parkade. The new mall will be light and open on the inside, and feel like an extension of the street, Thom said.

Abe Sayson, a retail specialist with CB Richard Ellis Ltd., said the economy is only half the story.

“The other equation prevalent in Richmond is retail properties are very polarized to the degree that quality buildings are snapped up very quickly, while B-class buildings sit empty,” Sayson said.

One example is the new Superstore complex on No. 3 Road, he said, where the additional retail space was leased almost immediately. Although the vacancy for “B-class” buildings is relatively high, that won’t likely be the case with the new Aberdeen, he said.

“If Aberdeen turns out to be a better mousetrap, we shouldn’t have a problem filling it up,” Sayson said.

Leung said will tear down the existing, 160,000 square foot mall because this is more than just an expansion.

“Even though we don’t like taking down the building, for the overall building it will be a new concept,” Leung said. “We’re doubling (the square footage), so it’s not really expansion.”

Fairchild developed the original Aberdeen Centre, located at Cambie and No. 3 road, in 1990. Fairchild president Thomas Fung is also the owner of Aberdeen.

Union likes bus proposal

David Marsh, MetroValley News

The Canadian Auto Workers union is urging its members to accept a mediated agreement that could end Greater Vancouver’s 11-week-old bus strike.

Union executives said Friday they have endorsed mediator Vince Ready’s proposal that the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company set up a bilateral committee to hash out the dispute’s most contentious issues, allowing bus drivers, mechanics and SeaBus operators to return to work.

Union regional director Len Ruel said Ready’s proposal is a win for the union because it means Coast Mountain failed to achieve its most controversial objectives in bargaining: hiring part-time workers and contracting out.

The proposal would give employees an 8.5 per cent pay increase over three years, plus a $1,000 signing bonus. In the meantime they would return to work, and the new committee would be struck.

If the committee failed to resolve outstanding issues by August 2002, those matters would then be referred for binding arbitration.

Union members will vote on the proposal on Tuesday.

The strike is the region’s longest transit disruption in 17 years, and protests from stranded transit users have been growing stronger as the shutdown has dragged on in recent weeks.

Relative battles benefactors over estate

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

It’s been nearly five years since Mary Bernice Gilmore’s death, but the battle rages on for her million dollar estate.

When Gilmore —wife of Les Gilmore, the world class Holstein cattle breeder and son of Richmond pioneer James Gilmore—passed away on Aug. 28, 1996, she was a resident of the Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge at 9580 Williams Rd. in Richmond, a place she called home for more than a decade.

In her will, she bequeathed $100,000 to Fraserview, $100,000 to the son of a former employee of the care facility and forgave a debt owing by that former employee.

Now those bequests are being challenged.

Gilmore’s niece, Patricia McPherson, daughter of Gilmore’s brother Vincent Franklin—who died in 1999—has filed suit in B.C. Supreme Court, asking that certain provisions in her aunt’s will be declared null and void, claiming undue influence played a role in their genesis.

Named as defendants in the claim are Fraserview Care Lodge, former Fraserview worker Shelley Johnson, her son Byron Sutherland, estate executors Canada Trust and Donald Jeffery, and Mrs. Bob Rowntree, who was bequeathed $100,000.

McPherson’s lawyer claims Gilmore was “of such a condition of mind, memory and under the influence of some of the above named defendants as to be unable to understand” the impact of what she was writing.

They further allege that under the Community Care Facility Act, an employee or licensee of a care facility is strictly prohibited from persuading or inducing a resident to alter his or her will, or to make a gift or provide a benefit for the operator or employee.

And in cases where such a gift is made, it is void unless the public trustee consents in writing.

A lawyer for Fraserview declined comment, citing the fact the case had yet to go to trial.

The trial is scheduled for April 2002 and is expected to last four weeks.

Victoria-bound Johnston resigns from council

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

And then there were seven.

Richmond councillor Ken Johnston filed his resignation papers Friday, following on the heels of Greg Halsey-Brandt, who quit the mayor’s job Monday night.

Johnston was elected as a Liberal MLA in Vancouver-Fraserview in the May 16 provincial election. Although he said he’s looking forward to his new job, his parting is bittersweet.

“I’ve got mixed feelings,” Johnston said. “I really, truly want to thank anybody that’s been a part of this journey of mine. It’s been a very positive experience.”

First elected to council in 1993, Johnston said meetings in the early days had a much more volatile atmosphere. And, he admits, he had a bit of a reputation in that department.

“I have a real respect for people like (former councillor) Doug Sandberg,” he said. “He and I used to fight every meeting, in public.”

He also had his run-ins on council with Evelina Halsey-Brandt as well, but he now counts both people as friends, and said he admires their outspoken nature.

Prior to 1993, Johnston said he’d always had an interest in politics and first ran for council because he thought they needed someone with a business background. Johnston is an accountant, and is chief executive officer of Richmond-based courier company Novex.

“I wasn’t enjoying the tax increases at the time, which were around four or five per cent a year,” he said. “There seemed to be no controls.”

His early years on council were not without a few stumbles, he admits. At his very first council meeting, Johnston interrupted a resident who was addressing council as a delegation—a process which gives the speaker up to five minutes without interruption.

“He’d barely spoke a paragraph, and I tabled a motion not to hear him,” he laughs. “(Coun. Corisande Percival-Smith) kicked me under the table, and told me not to do it again.”

His other gaff was to vote to place the new city hall on River Road, across from the airport. Although it was also recommended by staff, he was defeated 8-1.

“That was one of my favourite goofs,” he said, adding he was too focused on the financial benefits of selling the No.3 Road property.

But that fiscal conservatism was a valued asset on council, according to Coun. Kiichi Kumagai.

“He’s got a good business acumen,” he said. “He looks outside the box as opposed to looking in the box.”

The direction of council became more singular and focused in the later ’90s, and Johnston mellowed into a gentler approach to his post.

“So many of us were coming from the same position, there wasn’t a lot of debate like there used to be,” he said. Part of that calm can be credited to an excellent staff, he added.

“I don’t believe in getting in the way of people that are doing a great job.”

Johnston now has an office in Victoria, and is also setting up shop in his constituency in Champlain Mall. Provincial politics will have its advantages, but he said he will miss the higher degree of face-to-face involvement with constituents that occurs on the municipal front.

Johnston and his wife are seriously considering moving to his riding in Vancouver.

Taxing matters

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido introduced a “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” in the House of Commons Wednesday.

The purpose of the private member’s bill is to protect citizens against the “arbitrary powers” of Revenue Canada, he said, by providing an independent watchdog.

“Other departments have an ombudsman,” Peschisolido said. “I’d like to establish an office of taxpayer protection.”

As it stands now, citizens facing an income tax audit either have to accept the rules as set by the auditor or take the expense of going to court.

“There’s no one to go to with complaints,” he said. “And there are a lot of complaints.”

The bill received first reading, and will return in the fall for second reading and debate.

Peschisolido said there’s a “great deal of support for this” among many his fellow MPs, but the Liberals may choose to block it.

If passed into law, the final act will enshrine a series of rights for taxpayers, including the right to any provision of the Income Tax Act to be in plain English or French; the right to have explanation before being subjected to an audit and the right to have assessments, appeals, and other liability procedures dealt with quickly.

Man pleads guilty to secretly filming teenage girls

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Former local realtor Gary Taddaki Konishi, 53, has plead guilty to secretly videotaping teenage girls showering in his home.

Konishi, a well-known realtor who had also been licensed as a notary public up until 1996, appeared in Richmond Provincial Court this week where he pled guilty to two counts of mischief.

He will be sentenced July 17.

The Richmond Review first reported in January that police learned of Konishi’s exploits in December when a local man learned of a pornographic videotape containing images of his 19-year-old daughter.

According to court records, a camera was concealed in a bathroom’s ceiling vent and was used to record at least three teenaged girls as they were nude and having showers.

The father of one of the victims said his daughter continues to be traumatized to this day.

The father turned over a videotape of his daughter to police, who subsequently applied for a search warrant to Konishi’s home at 1-11771 Kingfisher Dr.

Konishi attempted suicide, court records indicate, after he realized his hidden camera had been discovered.

He stabbed himself several times in the chest and abdomen and was taken to hospital in December.

Included in Konishi’s alleged video collection was a videotape that contained a lesbian encounter of his former wife that she “presented to Konishi as a gift.”

Konishi’s current girlfriend, Marcia Bezarra, asked a friend of a girl renting a room at Konishi’s home to erase a videotape. When that friend viewed the tape before erasing it, images of the 19-year-old victim and another young woman were first noticed.

One of the female victims told police that at an unspecified date when she was just nine years old during a trip to Disneyland, Konishi attempted to open a bathroom door and take a picture while she was using the toilet, court records indicate.

Police believed that Konishi had been making clandestine videotapes for many months, if not years.

Konishi first became a licensed realtor in 1974, but hasn’t been licensed since February 2000, according to the Real Estate Council of B.C.

Night market shifts to new location

Philip RaphaelStaff Reporter

With a new central location that allows it to triple in size, the establishment of the Richmond Chinese Night Market’s second summer outdoor season at Lansdowne Centre is, according to organizers and supporters, more than just an expanding business venture.

The weekly market, which is set to run Fridays through Sundays starting on June 29 and ending Sept. 9, is a much-needed community event that will also help promote the city as tourist destination, said Raymond Cheung of Star Light Event Ltd., the company which organized the inaugural local night market last year.

“We see it as more as a cultural experience where people can come and spend the evening right in their own community,” he said. “The idea of a local night market first came up because we found that in the evenings there is not much for the whole family to do unless they want to travel into Vancouver.”

The market will cover a 60,000 square-foot section in the southwest corner of Lansdowne Centre’s parking lot that is bordered by No. 3 Road and Lansdowne Road. The hours are 7 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays. Admission will be free.

While the local nature and appeal of the market is clear for organizers, Richmond’s tourism boosters are also hoping to spread the word that the city is the place to visit for a distinctive outdoor event.

“It’s going to be a unique draw for the city that will offer visitors the opportunity of a cultural experience they may not find anywhere else. And it’s really another weapon in our arsenal when it comes to promoting the city,” Tourism Richmond executive director Rob Tivy said.

In addition to the 150 or so market stalls that will make up the market, there will be a food court area, children’s play zone, an outdoor stage, and a small go-kart race track.

“We hope to build on those other attractions and make it like a mini PNE,” Cheung said.

One aspect the scaled-down Richmond version will not have is parking frustrations as the rest of the mall’s lot will be open for traffic.

And to help shuttle tourists to the site, there is a planned horse-drawn carriage service that will make scheduled rounds of the local hotels.

“We want the tourists who are not within walking distance to be able to step outside their hotel, get on board the carriage and come right down here to the market,” Cheung said. “We want them to know that they don’t have to travel to Vancouver for this type of market experience. Everything is right here.”

To help promote the market to the tourist sector, Tivy said that pamphlets Tourism Richmond distributes to area hotels will include information on the events, plus its tourism staff at the Deas Island tourist information centre will be briefed on the market.

“One of the things that has pleased us tremendously is the concerted effort the organizers of the night market have made in reaching out to the area hotels to supply them with information,” Tivy added.

The night market’s new home is also hoped to promote its landlord—Lansdowne Mall—whose shifting fortunes over the past decades have been punctuated by the demise of anchor tenants such as Eatons and Woodwards department stores.

“Having personally experienced the vibrancy of an authentic night market in Hong Kong, we are looking forward to hosting the Richmond Night Market and to welcoming the many visitors to Lansdowne Centre,” mall director Bob Nosko said.

So far, about 80 per cent of the market’s vendor spaces have been leased. And while they will reflect a heavy Asian influence in the products for sale, Cheung said that there is an increasing number of mainstream tenants who are testing the night market’s potential to promote products as well as sell merchandise.

Projections put attendance this summer at 160,000 to 180,000 visitors over the market’s 30-night run.

Last summer, Cheung organized an outdoor night market in a 20,000-square-foot section of the Continental Centre’s parking lot. Flush with success from that venture—approximately 120,000 people attended during the 10 weekend season—it was decided that the outdoor’s should be brought under a roof for the winter months. So, last fall, Cheung leased a 30,000-square-foot former warehouse space adjacent to the new Canadian Superstore outlet on No. 3 Road and transformed it into a marketplace and convention centre facility.

With moderate success from that shift, the decision was made to return to the open-air summer market, but continue to promote the indoor facility as a large-scale convention hall.

While there are still a number of permit and regulatory hurdles to cross before opening day, Cheung is confident all the details will fall into place on time. And that has left him contemplating even bigger things in the future.

“Now that we have a more permanent location we can start thinking and planning things now for next year,” he said. “We have the space to expand and we will have the facilities set up to be able to add other aspects to the night market.”

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