Review More News
Your View
web sitings
Back Issues
About us
Search the Review

Businesses fuming over fines

City admits weekend parking raid was overzealous

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

A typhoon of parking tickets swept through alleys in Steveston last Friday and Saturday, angering local merchants.

"We're quite upset down here," said Dave Scott of Dave's Fish & Chips on Moncton Street, where five customers were ticketed. "They did it not only in my lane, they did it in the next lane and the other lane."

At Duffin's Donuts Mini Mart up the street, Joan Leang said four family members received $30 tickets Saturday for parking in the alley.

"That's why we got mad," Leang said. "There was no sign."

Across the alley at Thompson Bros. Aluminum Weldingwhere the alley is their front doortwo tickets were handed out on the weekend.

"It's just a joke," owner Eldon Thompson said. "Here's an alley we work out of and we can't even park there. To ticket everybody without any signs or anything is bull."

But bylaws manager Don Pearson said signs aren't required. But he did concede the city was too zealous in its ticketing over the weekend.

"Let's give people a chance to come to grips with the reality they can't park there," he said.

The city has received a number of complaints.

Pearson said the city will now give warnings only for about a week, while it stages an information campaign on the city web site and in local papers to let people know its illegal to park in an alley.

According to the bylaw, only commercial vehicles--greater than 5,000 kilograms or a bus of nine seats or more--can legally park in an alley. Pearson said the bylaw is there to ensure that alleys are kept clear for firetrucks and other vehicles in case of an emergency.

"It's not a revenue issue, per se, it's a safety issue," he said.

By mid-May, the city will continue to give tickets to alley parkers.

"There don't have to be signs there," he said. "I understand people don't study our that's why we want a grace period."

It was a good thing, perhaps, for the city truck parked in the alley outside Duffins Donuts on Tuesday.

But the grace period is unlikely to satisfy many Steveston merchants or their customers.

"We're telling our customers not to park in the laneway," Dave Scott said. "That's all we can do."

"They're getting carried away," said Mark Lindsell, manager of Redden Net on Moncton Street. "We're trying to do business in Steveston and we're getting nailed big time.

"We all have to use this alley for our business."

Though the city has refrained from ticketing, Pearson said the city has no plans to cancel tickets given out last week.

The Steveston Parking Task Force is expected to report back this summer or early fall with recommendations about a comprehensive parking plan.

911s to honour Richmond's finest

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Loren Slye is hoping the idea of honouring a community's top police and coast guard officers, ambulance paramedics, firefighters and emergency service volunteers will spread like wildfire throughout the Lower Mainland and the rest of the province.

Tonight is the inaugural Richmond Chamber of Commerce 911 awards, and the event has already exceeded Slye's expectations. There have been 140 nominees in 15 categories and tonight's event at the Best Western Richmond Inn is sold out, with some 450 tickets having been sold at $50 each.

"For a first time event, it's wonderful to be sold out," Slye said. "It's going to be a nice shot in the arm for local services and the community at large. There is no real award to recognize them to this point."

Slye said he approached the chamber about holding the awards several years ago, and then after he retired as a firefighter, RCMP Insp. Tony Mahon came forward to indicate his interest in doing the same for local police officers. That sprouted the suggestion that all emergency services and volunteers be recognized.

Word about the local event has spread to other communities, drawing interest from individuals from Burnaby and Langley and some areas of Vancouver Island, Slye said.

"I think this is another first for Richmond...that we're the trendsetters."

Police task force thwarts alleged arson plot on Richmond home

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

A 25-year-old Richmond man and two other males from Vancouver have been arrested in connection with a plan to burn down a Richmond home.

Saing Chun Derek Chan, from Richmond, and Robert Olandez, 24, and Brandon Shanks, 23, both from Vancouver, have been charged with conspiracy to commit arson with disregard for human life and attempted arson following an investigation by the Indo-Canadian Joint Task Force.

Police allege the trio were conspiring to torch a Richmond home, but were stopped by investigators before they had a chance to carry out the attack.

On March 7, task force members arrested Shanks and charged him with possession of incendiary material.

Then on April 11, Shanks was arrested again on the new charges, along with Olandez and Chan.

Const. Sharlene Brooks, spokeswoman for the task force, said investigators aren't releasing much information about the incident out of fear of "compromising the investigation."

"They were beyond the planning stages," she said, but she couldn't say whether it was a house, condominium or townhouse that was targetted, or the neighbourhood in which the attack was planned.

She did say the trio were caught as they were "taking steps to carry out the arson."

The three men appeared in Vancouver Provincial Court and were released on a variety of conditions.

A Saing Chun Derek Chan was arrested along with Tony Han on January 5, 2000 and charged with possession of dangerous weapons.

The charges were dismissed against both men, who were allegedly in a vehicle following another vehicle whose owners contacted police.

When the following vehicle was pulled over by police, officers allegedly found at least one machete in the vehicle.

The task force learned of this alleged conspiracy while conducting investigations into the violent incidents among members of the Indo-Canadian community.

The colour behind the veil

Growing up in wartorn Iran provides inspiration to Rozita Moini Shirazi

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Rozita Moini Shirazi recalls the night in 1982. It started when the power went off.

"It is as if the world has suddenly veiled herself to hide her beauty from outsiders," she wrote in her journal.

In her hometown of Karrag, Iran, bombs fell from Iraqi planes high above.

Ignoring her parents' pleas, she rushed out to the rescue centre to join the other volunteers in the search for bodies. Her veil was wet against her face.

They found a ruined house. A neighbour told them seven people lived there: a mother, father, three childrenone a newbornand the grandparents.

"It is like there was never a house on that piece of land," she wrote. "It's not even flat; it's a pit."

Shirazi started digging. And despite the horrible things she found, she kept on digging.

Years later, and thousands of kilometres away from her childhood home, she continues to struggle with the rubble of that past.

"It was always with me," she explains. "My parents didn't want me to do that, I thought they were too selfish. But looking back I think they were right. It was very disturbing for a girl who always lived a good life."

At 40, Shirazi appears to be living well. The Richmond artist talked to The Richmond Review Monday at Richmond Art Gallery, where she was setting up the installation Windows which opens tonight.

She is resplendent in a crimson red shirt, black capri pants that dangle strings of coloured beads and a pair of turquoise faux-snakeskin boots. Her hair (and eyebrows) are copper but, as she tells me, that's just today.

It's as though she's spent years hiding all this colour beneath her chador (veil and robe) and is now making up for lost time.

Repression of colour is a theme in one series within her exhibit, titled "Looking Inside," which features a pairs of eyes on each of five square panels that seem to float against the black backdrop. Beneath them are five longer panels, each signifying a theme: Religion, Femininity, Tradition, and so on. They feature abstractions based on the eye shape: femininity showing the curve of a pregnant belly, for instance. The colours are actually bright, but thin cheesecloth covers them, giving them a muted look.

"Since the revolution of Islam, we didn't have any colour," she says, referring to the 1979 events that saw the monarchy overthrown and replaced with Islamic rule. "That's why I

covered the art with fabric, because I couldn't just let it go. I was showing my inner struggle."

The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) had a traumatic effect on Shirazi. She recalls seeing the hundreds of bodies of dead soldiers brought into the city each day.

A second series in her show, "Out of Silence," continues her deeply personal exploration of her reaction to all this devastation and death. Inspired by a dream, eight black and white images tell the story of a soldier in the ruins of a building. A pair of eyesShirazi'swatch it all, asking: Is it man or machine?

In her artist's statement, she describes her feeling of helplessness: "My eyes absorbed the war. My heart felt the war...But with whom can I share my grief?"

And there were also the atrocities of her own government, including executions of academics and activists who were seen as subversives. Shirazi's own sister spent three years in prison.

Shortly after high school, Shirazi's parents took her to Cologne, Germany so she could study German literature and art. When they left, "I cried and cried," she says.

Alone in a new country, she looked into the mirror and saw something new.

"I was a woman," she recalls. "I never had time to think about myself and see who I had become. And there I saw the lines."

In Germany she married a fellow Persian, and in 1993 they came to Canada.

Now, more than half her life has been spent outside Iran and, like many women immersed in a new culture, it has redefined how she sees herself. Where she was once a rebellious youth, she now recognizes how traditional she is when compared to many other Canadian women.

"I can't get away from what's shaped me. It's in me. It happens in every culture. But it's my own personal experience."

Though she's now a wife and mother of two children, aged 8 and 14, the snakeskin boots and colourful hair suggest a need to recover the youth she never had.

"When I compare myself to other persons my age, I feel `yeah, I've been through lots,'" she says.

Now, she could simply move on and forget. But she can't.

"I want to examine things. I want to do everything in one lifetime."

Shirazi's journal entry concluded after the bombing is over.

She hears the voice of a man repeating: "Everybody can come out of the shelters. The danger is over. You can go back to your houses."

Sitting in the bright sun outside the art gallery, she tells me she's interested in returning to Iran. She says she has a few projects in mind.

"I would like to have the feeling of being there," she says.

And perhaps, along with some gifts for her family in Iran, she'll bring some colour, too.

Rozita Moini Shirazi's exhibit appears until June 12, as part of Asian Heritage Month. Other artists in the show include the ceramic works of Shirley Inouye, Changes/New Beginnings, inspired by a visit to her parents childhood home of Mio, Japan. Also, Shelly Bahl presents a group of mixed media works exploring the history and exotification of Indian art and culture through her exhibit New Works on Paper. Richmond Art Gallery is at 7700 Minoru Gate.

Foreign student discovers lost bag of money

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

A local business has a foreign exchange student to thank after $7,000 in lost money was recovered.

Suleman Nassir, a Saudi Arabian resident who is currently taking a management course at a Lower Mainland college, stumbled upon about $7,000 in cash and coins inside a cloth bag sitting on the road at a local intersection Sunday night while he was on his way to pray at a local mosque.

Stopped at No. 5 Road and Westminster Highway, Nassir told The Richmond Review that it was obvious the bag contained money because coins were strewn about on the roadside. Inside were cash register receipts along with $20, $50 and $100.

Nassir picked up the coins and put the bag of money in his car, and turned it into to Shaikh Younus Kathrada, religious leader of the Dar Al-Madinah Islamic Society in Vancouver, who happened to also be praying at the Richmond Muslim Mosque where Nassir was headed. Kathrada then turned the money into the Richmond RCMP Sunday night after prayers.

"I wasn't looking for a reward or anything like that," Nassir said.

The owners of the money were more than appreciative of Nassir's honesty and will be making a $500 donation to the Islamic Society and giving Nassir a $100 reward.

"We're very grateful. It's nice to know there's good citizens around," said the owner of the money, who wished to remain anonymous.

The owner had apparently placed the bag on top of his car and then drove off, forgetting that the money was on the roof. The owner didn't want his company identified because of concerns they could become the target of bandits in the future.

Kathrada said the Muslim faith teaches about ownership of property and not taking what doesn't belong to you, and the value of honesty.

For Nassir, he'll be returning to Saudi Arabia in September with a priceless story to tell to his family.

Chimo pitches a legacy for mom

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Chimo Crisis Services is hoping residents will "make their mother proud," and buy a Mother's Day gift that will help build a new transition house for women fleeing violence at home.

"One wonderful way to say thanks to your mother is to make a donation on behalf of your family," executive director Joan Cowderoy said.

Chimo launched a campaign in March to raise $50,000 to furnish and equip a new 10-bed facility for women and children, set to open this summer.

So far, they've raised $13,000 and have a "verbal confirmation" of an additional $4,000, Cowderoy said.

They've sent letters to numerous local businesses to seek support and have recently begun to hear positive response, she added.

"It plateaued last week and then it started up again."

Nova House, Richmond's only transition house, provides a family environment for up to 10 women and children and is staffed 24 hours a day.

Transience has plagued the facility in its 22 year history, as it has always been in rented city homes. They've moved three times. This is the first time they have had a purpose-built facility of their own.

For those donating for Mother's Day, the non-profit group is sending letters to the both the donor and the person named to let them know.

"It's basically a way to leave a legacy," Cowderoy said. "It's a special opportunity that's not going to be there again."

To donate, visit or call 604-279-7077.

Pets bylaw to get more bite

But city isn't considering an outright ban on reptile sales

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Val Lofvendahl once had a five-foot long iguana.

Today, she has a seven-inch bearded dragon that, at its biggest, will only be about 20 inches.

A self-described "reptile enthusiast," she's supportive of the approach the city is taking to pet store regulations.

"It really looked like they were going toward the alternative rather than a complete ban," said Lofvendahl, a Richmond resident, commenting on discussions at Tuesday's general purposes committee meeting. "There's still people in Richmond that want them whether you want them or not."

Richmond's bylaw does not allow the sale of exotic pets, but the wording is greysomething that didn't become an issue until Super Pet, a store that sells a lot of reptiles, applied for a business licence for its 18,000 square foot store on 4551 No. 3 Road.

Council is clarifying the bylaw, and will likely ban the sale of large, dangerous reptiles such as boa constrictors and pythons. But before other exotic pets are added to the city's list of what local pet stores cannot sell, staff and council plan to consult the pet industry and animal welfare groups.

"Everybody seems interested in working with us," Mayor Malcolm Brodie said.

"Therefore we didn't need a ban, we just needed to set out expectations."

("Exotic" can be defined as anything that is not traditionally domesticated, and not found locally, such as those covered by the province's Wildlife Act.)

Christine Schramm of the Rainforest Reptile Refuge Society would love to see an outright ban.

"They're wild animals," she said. "They don't belong in captivity. I think it's cruel to keep an animal in a cage for your own pleasure."

Her facility, located in Surrey, currently houses between 350 and 400 animals that have been surrendered by their owners. Among them are 80 red-eared slider turtles--so many that she's now turning them away.

Schramm estimates that as much as 90 per cent of exotic pets die either in transport or storage before they are sold.

Local Super Pet store manager Cheri Simmons supports a clarification of the regulations and a ban on certain animals.

There are many reptiles her company considers inappropriate for sale, she said, adding that she is putting together a "prohibited animal list" for the city to consider.

Super Pet sells tortoises, lizards such as the leopard gecko and the bearded dragon, and the ball python.

They don't carry any venomous reptiles, boa constrictors, reticulated pythons or iguanas and also only buy animals bred in captivity.

Staff will present a report early next month outlining what animals could be on the city's banned list.

They will also present information on health risks animals may pose (such as poisoning), and make suggestions about the options for compulsory literature pet stores could provide when a purchase is made, on subjects such as care and feeding.

"If you buy a one-foot snake and you're told it'll grow to five feet, you know what you're getting into," Brodie said.

But Debra Probert of the Vancouver Humane Society believes education is a "waste of time."

"There's absolutely no way to enforce it," she said, adding that regardless, education can't lead to the living conditions these animals require.

"They've evolved over centuries to a specific set of circumstances. You can't re-create that in your living room."

Simmons said her store posts information on all its cages explaining how big the animals become, as well as the environment and feeding they require.

"We love animals and we're not interested in making life miserable for animals, that's for sure," she said.


A new book tells of the Japanese's role in Steveston

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Murakami. Kishi. Nishi. Yamazaki.

People acquainted with Steveston's history may link these names with the town and the fishing industry.

Indeed, the Japanese contribution to fishing on the West Coast is profound, as Mitsuo (Moe) Yesaki shows in his just-published book Sutebusuton: A Japanese Village on the British Columbia Coast.

But through the course of his research, another question arose: what about farming?

Why are there no Japanese Gilmores, Mays or Steves?

"With the Japanese losing the land, I think agriculture really changed," says Yesaki.

Yesaki's grandfather arrived in Stevestonor Sutebusuton as they pronounced itwith the first wave of Japanese immigrants in the 1890s and fished sockeye on the Fraser. Yesaki's father also became a fisherman. Even Yesaki himself fished with his boat, Mar Novo (New Sea), up until 1995, and spent his career as a fisheries biologist with the United Nations.

It was a tradition of sorts.

But it was also one of the industries where the Japanese immigrants could participate, and also, earn an equal wage.

Yesaki was six when his family was forced to leave the coast during the Japanese internment of the Second World War. When they returned to the coast in 1950, they rented a house owned by the Pacific Coast Cannery, which stood a few hundred yards east of Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

Aside from the significant social tragedy of the internment, an incredible engine was stopped dead in its tracks when Japanese land and fishing boats were seized in 1942, Yesaki says.

In 1949, after families spent years in the Interior and on the Prairies working on farms and in labour camps, the fishermen returned. The canneries lured them back with loans to buy new boats, and offered housing for a reasonable rate.

But the land had become too expensive and the Japanese role in farming never recovered.

Before the war, Japanese dominated the berry and vegetable farming industries in B.C. In 1941, they accounted for 83 per cent of strawberry production in the Lower Mainland, Yesaki writes in his book.

They brought innovation to farming, whereas "fisheries are easy to exploit," Yesaki says. The fishing industry would have been developed regardless of the Japanese presence, he added.

"But agriculture would have been quite different. If the Japanese had been here we would have been exporting (vegetables), not importing from California."

When the Japanese began arriving in Steveston in the late 1800s, they were fishermen. Most came from Mio, a tiny town on a stitch of land between the sea and the mountains. Yesaki--who visited the town with Coun. Harold Steves in 1998--says most of them left home because of the collapse of the sardine fishery.

Once here, they became invaluable to the local canneries. Initially it was just men, working here a few years to make some money before returning home.

Between 1891 and 1901, the Japanese proportion of Steveston's population ballooned from 10 per cent to 58 per cent. It was the second largest Japanese community in Canada after Japantown on Powell Street in Vancouver.

But Canada created a policy in 1908 limiting the immigration to 400 Japanese men per year. By that time, some of the men here were ready to put down roots and brought over "picture brides" from Japan. Most of these women worked in the canneries.

"It was very much a captive workforce," Yesaki said. "But willing."

When the fisheries collapsed around 1910, the Japanese were among the few who stayed on, Yesaki saidperhaps because it was one of the few industries where they earned an equal wage.

"The Caucasian fishermen, they just left the Fraser River fisheries," Yesaki said.

For survival's sake, the Japanese fishermen diversified and began fishing cod, blueback (coho) and herring, which they salted and shipped to Japan and China.

In Steveston they kept pretty much to themselves. They even built their own school; most rented company houses and didn't pay property taxes, so the school board refused to school the children.)

"There was very little interaction. The Japanese really stuck to themselves," Yesaki said.

"But (in the early 1920s) people started to realize if we're going to live in this country we should start integrating."

In 1923, the Japanese community paid a portion of the cost to build Lord Byng Elementary, and the children were schooled together.

Japanese children were learning English and the second generation was integrating welluntil the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour.

Boats were rounded up. Properties were confiscated.

Families could either leave the coast voluntarily to work on farms inland, or be herded off to labour camps and possibly have the family separated.

Yesaki's family went to Picture Butte, north of Lethbridge, Alberta, where they worked on a sugarbeet farm.

When they returned in 1950, they rented a company house for a year, then Yesaki's father built a house on Steveston Highway.

Yesaki's book is phenomenal in detail. Through incomparable research he covers the Japanese history in Steveston from 1887 to 1952.

His research on the fishing catches is astounding, and much of the book centres on fishing. But he also covers the living conditions, social strife and the role of women.

As comprehensive as his book is, he still believes there's more to tell.

"I don't think a lot of people appreciate the Japanese contributions of the first generation," he says.

"(In the future) I would like somebody to look into farming," he adds. "Maybe I'll try it sometime but I'm interested in fisheries."

Yesaki's book is available at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston Book Store (3760 Moncton) and Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

Upping the educational ante

Educators worried that pressure in Grade 10 will impact students

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

School will get serious sooner for today's Grade 8 students under changes to graduation requirements introduced Wednesday by Education Minister Christy Clark.

Grade 10 will no longer be all fun and games, as beginning in September 2004, Grade 10 marks and classes will count towards graduation.

But Grade 10 marks are unlikely to count toward admissions at the University of British Columbia, or awards and scholarships, according to Rosalie Phillips, assistant registrar at UBC.

"I don't think we're looking to place more of a burden on students in Grade 10," Phillips told The Richmond Review Friday.

The university is aware of the changes and will watch the impact of their implementation.

But since this won't affect the university until 2007, when today's Grade 8 students graduate, there is still some time before any decisions around changing admission requirements.

Phillips doubts there will be support for counting Grade 10 examinations in determining entry to the university. She'd actually like to see the opposite.

"In fact, I'd like to see us move away from Grade 11 (examination marks)."

Chris Kelly, superintendent of the Richmond school district, said the changes are somewhat worrisome.

"It would really concern me if all this resulted in was added pressure of performance in Grade 10."

Kelly feels the changes will have a ripple affect on Grades 8 and 9, with teachers and students in those grades now having to work toward an examination in Grade 10.

Heaping pressure on students at the age of 15 isn't the right way to go, he said, and the district has a responsibility to look at the provincial changes and implement them with these specific concerns in mind.

Although Richmond Teachers Association president Al Klassen was happy to see previously proposed changes shelved, he said adding exams in Grade 10 may only serve to further stress students.

"Testing is hyped-up more than it should be," Klassen said, adding that Grade 10 should remain a year in which students explore their options rather than make career choices.

"Putting added pressure (on students) isn't necessarily conducive to learning and is detrimental overall."

The changes also include the introduction of graduation portfolios that will display a student's achievements in community involvement and fitness. Five new graduation program exams will be introduced to make sure students have a firm understanding of language, arts, math, science and social studies, the education ministry said.

The program will be phased in over three years, beginning with Grade 10 students in September 2004.

The ministry is not bringing in mandatory physical education in Grades 11 and 12 and will also not be streaming students to pursue certain career choices by Grade 10.

Kwantlen hit with tuition hike

Sheila Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Full-time students at Kwantlen University College will have to shell out about $600 more per year beginning in September.

The tuition increasesa 30 per cent hike from the current year's feeswere approved by the college's board of governors last week. The typical annual tuition will now be about $2,940.

A letter dated April 17 from Kwantlen president Skip Triplett says the increased tuition will be used to improve accessibility for students and "enhance educational opportunities" at the university college, which has a campus in Richmond.

The letter says 4,000 new spaces will be added in high-demand areas such as university studies and business.

Kwantlen Faculty Assoc-iation president Nancy Clegg said it hasn't been made clear how the institution is going to meet those targets as there hasn't been any mention of increasing staff levels.

Kwantlen communications director Peter Chevrier confirmed some of the tuition money will be used to hire more faculty. As well, he said, the revenue will enhance library collections and student scholarship funds.

Chevrier pointed out Kwantlen's fees are still lower than the national average of $3,800 per year.

Still, Clegg said the tuition hike raises concerns about who will be able to attend Kwantlen.

"We're concerned that rather than serving everyone, we will end up serving only those that are more advantaged financially," she said.

Triplett said raising tuition was the only way to maintain quality programs and continue meeting the needs of the community.

"I am sensitive to the effect an increase will have on individual students," he wrote.

"In fact, tuition was the last option we looked at, but we had to take a broad view."

The university college, which also has campuses in Surrey and Langley, has a budget of about $85 million ($50 million from the government, with the rest primarily from tuition).

The province provided little new money to the institution for the upcoming school year, and Kwantlen's budget is decreasing another $1.2 million in 2004/05.

With instructors' collective agreement expiring next spring, Clegg fears layoffs may be on the horizon.

Local officer to command fusiliers

Gary Law to be installed this weekend

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Richmond RCMP Const. Gary Law is being named the commanding officer of the 2382 BCR (Irish Fusiliers) Royal Canadian Army Cadets Corp Saturday (April 26) in a ceremony at the Sherman Armoury, located at 5500 No. 4 Rd.

The Richmond resident has received many accolades since arriving in Canada from Hong Kong in 1982 as an international student. After completing his post-secondary education here and spending four years in the military, he returned to Hong Kong to teach high school and work on the auxiliary police force.

After returning to Canada in 1995 he joined the RCMP and was posted to the Richmond detachment.

He joined the Irish Fusiliers in 2002 and, up until his promotion, was captain and human rights advisor for the unit.

Since 2000, he has received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Richmond RCMP's excellence in performance award and has been appointed to the city's intercultural advisory committee.

The Irish Fusiliers comprises 60 youth aged 12 to 18.

Royal Canadian Army Cadets engage in training programs during the school year that encourage good citizenship and leadership, promote physical fitness and stimulate interest in the activities of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Tourism takes a beating

New provincial funding a silver lining

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

A poor economy, Sept. 11, airline bankruptcy, the war on Iraq and now severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Tourism Richmond executive director Rob Tivy said this cocktail of calamity has combined to make the first quarter of 2003 look even worse than last year.

"That's hurting," he said of the quintuple-whammy that's damaging the local tourism industry.

"It especially hurts in Richmond because it's an airport city."

But there was welcome news last week as the provincial government committed $750,000 to help market British Columbia to the world.

The funding builds on $500,000 the province dedicated to regional tourism associations March 24, bringing government's recent support to $1.25 million.

"It's good stuff," Tivy said. "They're taking some really proactive steps."

Occupancy in Richmond hotels is down five per cent over the first three months of 2002, and traffic at Tourism's visitors centre is down between 15 and 20 per cent, Tivy said.

And last year was no great shakes either, he added.

"The last three or four years have been tough."

In stable times, Richmond hotels are between 80 and 85 per cent full, Tivy said. They are now operating at about 55 per cent occupancy.

In response to the unpredictable travel climate, Tivy said Tourism Richmond is delaying the launch of its spring campaign in order to gauge the climate, and ensure they don't do more harm than good.

"The thing you want to be conscious of is you don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction and squeeze up on it," Tivy said.

Tourism Richmond spends between $400,000 and $500,000 annually to market Richmond in newspapers and at trade shows within B.C., the Prairies and the Pacific Northwest.

Tivy said for Richmondand succeed, this province has to spend more on marketing than other provinces, as they are all competing for the same dollar.

Crowning touch

New high-tech equipment provides perfect, first-time fit for dental work

Philip Raphael, Staff Reporter

It's not often you can equate dentistry with fairy tales, but thanks to the use of a new high-tech software and computer system, it's possible to link the two and ultimately provide the requisite happy ending.

Because just as Cinderella's foot, and her's alone, was a perfect fit for the glass slipper, a new procedure being used by Richmond's Dr. Greg Nelson can give his patients that special, even magical, one-of-a-kind match for their crownsall in one convenient visit.

Normally, the procedure for getting a crown, or a cap as it is also known, involves at least two visits to the dentist. On the first an impression, essentially a mold, of the patient's teeth is made so a dental lab technician can fashion a cap so it fits over the tooth and its surrounding neighbours to ensure a proper bite.

And while the majority of caps made that way can provide a good fit once they are cemented into place, since they are built by applying layers of porcelain, the process is potentially subject to developing small voids that can weaken the structure of the cap, Nelson said.

Plus, crowns usually take at least a week to make, during which time the dentist provides the patient with a temporary cap that can be uncomfortable because it is not fitted as finely as the dental lab's crown.

To overcome that uncomfortable wait time, dispense with another invasive session in the dentist's chair to remove the temporary crown and fit a permanent one, plus ensure the eventual fit is perfect every time, Nelson is using German-made equipment called the Cerec 3. It employs a small infrared camera that captures a three-dimensional digital image of the tooth being worked on and displays it on the machine's flat panel monitor.

Using specialized software that incorporates CAD (computer aided drafting) software, the dentist can call up detailed cross sections of the tooth on the computer screen and map out the areas that need to be rebuilt with a crown. Once that is done, the information on how the tooth's crown should look, and fit in naturally with surrounding teeth, is sent via a wireless connection to a special milling machine which uses diamond-tipped cutting bits to shape the crown from a solid piece of special, dental grade ceramic material.

"This technology has been around for about 30 years, it's just that the software hasn't been powerful enough to drive the system," Nelson said. "It uses CAD software because when you are rebuilding a tooth it's like putting up a very small building."

The Cerec 3 system effectively eliminates the middleman at the dental lab and can turn out the finished cap in about 12 minutes.

Speed aside, another advantage of the Cerec 3 system is the perception that bonding agents used to cement the crown to a tooth can work better when placed on a tooth enamel that has been freshly drilled.

So far, Nelson believes he is the first practice in Richmond to have the high-tech equipment. Around B.C., there are an estimated 30 or so users.

Asked to put a price tag on the machine, Nelson said, "Let's just say I'm never going to drive a Porsche. But then, just driving a Porsche doesn't give you the opportunity to earn any money."

A next generation version of the Cerec 3 equipment is on its way with even more powerful software that will allow the dentist to rotate the scanned image of the tooth in a similar way 3D video games give players a view that can be manipulated from almost any angle.

So far the reception from Nelson's patients to the high-tech system has been almost overwhelming.

"I had my receptionist tell me `Greg, stop telling people about this stuff because it's wrecking our schedule.' People are cancelling appointments and wanting to wait for the new procedure."

And patients who normally express discomfort with crowns made the traditional way are finding they are almost pain free with the new approach.

Too good to believe?

Well, most `tooth' fairy tales can seem that way.

Please send comments or questions about this site to
Copyright © 1995-2003 Richmond Public Library. All Rights Reserved.