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Time necessitated jaunts to Europe

Chief administrative officer defends city's expenses to get oval

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

In a perfect world, city staff would have had time to consult the community before going ahead with an ambitious council-backed plan to bid for the 2010 Olympic speed skating oval.

But the city had just six weeks to finish the necessary due diligence that other Olympic venue builders had years to complete.

"I just don't know how you could to it in any other way," Richmond's chief administrative officer George Duncan said Wednesday.

Duncan defended the decision to take councillors and city staff on a hush-hush trip to Europe in June.

He said in order for councillors to get the level of comfort necessary to proceed with this project, nothing could equate to seeing the venues in Herenveen, Holland, Hamar, Norway and Turin, Italy.

The European tour cost $120,000. In addition, the city visited Calgary and hired consultants for a total of $45,000.

No single staff report could have provided the reassurance, Duncan said, to convince councillors that pursuing the speed skating oval was necessary.

Things would have been different if the city had the normal two to four years to work on a bid like this. But the fact is, the city didn't and this timeline necessitated a voluminous amount of research in a short period.

Coun. Derek Dang was not among the councillors who went to Europe. Although he understands the value of seeing things first hand, he questioned whether all of the trips were really necessary.

"It's a lot of trips," he said.

However, now that the city has won, Dang said the investment will pay off.

"It's going to be a landmark for the community."

According to Duncan, the city learned in early June that the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee was inviting other communities to hand in proposals for the long track speed skating venue. The bid had to be in seven weeks later.

Duncan realized the city needed to act quickly if it wanted to pursue the $60 million that the Olympic organizing committee would contribute to the facility.

While the city had plenty of experience with large-scale projects-including the $39 million Richmond City Hall-it needed to learn about the challenges unique to a speed skating oval.

To make this bid a reality, Duncan knew councillors needed to be convinced of the project's viability in a short period of time.

That's why he urged those councillors who were able to take the trip to Europe to meet with designers, builders, those who financed the construction, as well as operations managers and project managers.

These meetings revealed one common message, Duncan said. This speed skating oval needs to immediately include all of the features and equipment envisioned for its post-Olympics use, he said. In other words, once the Olympics are finished, it can begin its long-term legacy for community without more spending.

Duncan said the city will bring in outside experts to help plan, build, manage and operate this new facility. Whether that will come in the form of hiring a firm, or adding staff with certain expertise remains to be seen.

While the city released drawings of the venue, the actual facility's design will be in the hands of an architect. Requests for proposals to design this facility will be fast-tracked to ensure it meets the October 2007 completion date.

But some of the elements seen in the released images will be included in the final product, such as the generous use of glass to highlight the view of the river and mountains, the wrap-around space for clinics and fitness facilities, as well as space for shops.

One element that will be significantly different involves the use of B.C. timber rather than steel, which is prominent in the drawings.

"Where at all possible, we'll be using wood."

Duncan said the public has long demanded a facility like this. Many task force reports done by residents identified a sports multiplex as a priority.

Duncan said this speed skating oval could solve these funding challenges and eliminate the need to borrow money to build such a world-class facility. "If we had said we (needed to consult the community first) we would have been out of the game."

Richmond was a clear winner in oval bid

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

Vancouver Olympic chief John Furlong said Richmond's bid for the speed skating oval was superior in every way.

On Tuesday, Vancouver Organizing Committee members unanimously announced that Richmond, not Simon Fraser University, will host the venue for the 2010 Winter Games.

Richmond's proposal dwarfs SFU's original $68-million plan to construct the oval on Burnaby Mountain-both in size and cost.

Furlong said when the organizing committee realized it couldn't build the SFU facility within budget, it worked with the university to revise the university plan, and also decided to seek alternatives.

The oval itself will cost $124 million, about half of which will be Olympic money. The city is also planning a $19-million waterfront park and budgeting $18 million for a contingency fund.

Richmond is proposing a facility that would offer a full range of winter and summer uses, with the potential for short and long track skating post-Games.

To pay for it, Richmond is expecting to collect up to $32 million from naming rights and sponsorship dollars, $50 million from casino revenue over 10 years and $74 million from developing land in the area.

Furlong said Richmond's proposal proved attractive to Olympic organizers because the city was willing to contribute extra money for construction. If SFU won its bid, Olympic organizers would have shelled out $19 million in extra money to pay for its oval, in addition to providing a $3.6-million contingency fund.

"The Richmond proposal puts us on budget," said Furlong, who is a Richmond resident.

Furlong said Richmond is also willing to take full responsibility for managing the project, while SFU would have relied on the organizing committee as a safety net.

SFU was proposing an indoor field house with a temporary ice surface planned for the Games. There was no commitment for ice post-Games.

Oval will have huge impact on local sports

Facility to provide space for many sports

Don Fennell, Staff Reporter

The Olympians are coming to Richmond. But even before Feb. 12, 2010, the date of the Games' opening ceremonies, the city will be playing host to the world.

If all goes according to plan, construction of Richmond's new sports jewel will be completed by Oct. 31, 2007-more than two years before the Vancouver Winter Games. And many of the first events will be international athletic competitions. World championships, for example, are commonly held in Olympic venues as a trial run to help "test" facilities prior to the actual Games.

On Tuesday, Richmond got the nod to build what city officials are describing as a "showcase multi-purpose facility." Reaction from Richmond's community leaders was a resounding thumbs up.

The Richmond Olympic Oval will provide space for at least 15 different sports, and very likely more. That's because of the amount of flexibility that will go into the design of the 363,000-square-foot complex.

In theory, long-track speed skating could be going on at the same time as a variety of smaller-scale dry land sports such as basketball, judo and softball training.

"To have this kind of facility is exciting for all the community," Richmond Minor Hockey Association president Wendy Steadman said. "It will enhance the opportunities for all our athletes, and give high performance athletes the chance to train and develop right here at home."

Steadman added that the potential for hosting tournaments has grown exponentially with the oval coming on stream. The Richmond Minor Hockey Association already hosts 10 tournaments a year, including a popular Midget Division classic in December. But she said the oval allows for more, and larger tournaments.

"Our events have put Richmond on the hockey map, but I think this will put us on the national and even international map."

The executive director of the B.C. Speed Skating Association believes the Richmond oval will help the sport grow, both locally and throughout the province.

"I'm ecstatic," Ted Houghton told The Richmond Review. "B.C. has the second most skaters in the country, only behind Quebec. We've got about 900 competitive skaters and while that's not a lot in raw numbers, (Canadians) are the best in the world in long-track speed skating.

"There's no reason at all we can't develop our own skaters right here in Richmond for 2010."

Catriona Le May Doan holds both the Olympic and world record in the 500 metres (set in Salt Lake City in 2002) and Canadian speed skaters have produced 30 medals at the Olympic Winter Games from 1924 to 2002.

"Traditionally, it takes approximately 40 athletes to produce one Olympian," Houghton said. "So we need a larger base, and hopefully Richmond gives us the opportunity to grow that base."

Coun. Rob Howard was raised in Richmond and participated in many sports as a child, and later as an adult. He said the oval has the potential to energize the city like nothing before.

"When I grew up there was no ice in Richmond," he said. "When Minoru Arena was built (in 1965) it was a very special place. But the oval will be so much more because it's the kind of facility that we often talk about, accommodating the playground to podium idea. And it will be used by youngsters, professionals and seniors.

"It's a home for the entire community and region."

The facility will have a seating capacity of 8,000 for the Olympic speed skating events, but only 2,000 of those are permanent. However, with multiple configurations possible, including having two Olympic-sized hockey rinks (100 by 200 feet each) in use at the same time along with several dry land sports, it's possible to have extensive, albeit temporary seating for each.

The complex will also include sport medicine offices, fitness facilities and a major field house that can accommodate many activities including province-wide sports camps-an idea that has been discussed by city officials.

Dave Semple, manager of parks for the City of Richmond, said the multi-purpose facility is a legacy for generations to come.

While the city has been trying to meet the needs of various sporting groups, this project speeds up the process normally associated with building or upgrading facilities significantly because of the sheer size and flexibility of the complex, Semple added.

Cat shelter on the prowl

Forgotten Felines looks for a new home

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

A Richmond home-based cat shelter is appealing for help.

Forgotten Felines and its over 200 cats are facing eviction from their home of four years after the landowner put the Gibbons Drive house up for sale.

Shelter founder and president Penny March rents the house and shelters the cats in the home's basement and in a small, backyard enclosure.

March hopes to secure at least an acre of property from a generous donor to house a new shelter in Richmond-one for all animals in need of help.

"There are funds available for us to build the shelter," she said. "We need property."

She envisions a new, spacious shelter with an on-site veterinarian clinic, operated by a board member of Forgotten Felines, which is a registered charity. It would provide round-the-clock care for stray animals.

Today, vet costs are the single biggest expense of the feline refuge. March said $50,000 is needed each year to cover vet bills. Other expenses include food, medicine, and kitty litter-a $1,200 a month expense.

A landscaper by day with her husband Serge Belley, March relies on donations, both monetary and in kind, to keep the shelter going.

In her spare time, March and volunteers promote the shelter at pet stores and on street corners. With promotion come new stray cats, and none are turned away.

Each new arrival receives a veterinarian examination, is vaccinated, spayed or neutered, de-flead, de-wormed and has its blood tested, said March.

She takes in aging, abused, injured and terminally-ill cats, providing them with a place to live their last years. No cats are aborted or euthanized, unless absolutely necessary.

"We take in a lot of cats from a lot of vets that would normally be put to sleep because people don't want them anymore."

The shelter even has a nursery for newborn kittens.

Marsh said many cats are eventually adopted. Even two senior cats-ages 15 and 18-recently found new homes.

"We take everything that comes our way and we have the ability to relocate them."

The current home of Forgotten Felines will likely be bulldozed once a buyer for the property is found. A new site will also jump start an educational program, which would involve March bringing the message of homeless cats to local schools.

Much of that message lies in teaching kids the importance of spaying and neutering-something March believes is part of the solution to increasing numbers of unwanted cats.

"That's what has to be done. What I do is really great for the animals that come here, but that's not going to solve the problem."

For more information call 604-780-2287 or visit

Rookie cops save jumper on bridge

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Two rookie RCMP officers saved the life of a man who had carefully planned to commit suicide by jumping off the Oak Street Bridge Wednesday morning.

Richmond RCMP Const. Robert Hughes and Const. Shelley Levy were the first police officers on the scene around 5 a.m., and their boss, RCMP Supt. Ward Clapham, described their actions as "heroic."

But police also noted the actions of a few drivers, who ignored the police roadblock and crossed over the bridge, adding another dangerous element to an already potentially-deadly situation.

"We need people to take a step back and have a reality check," RCMP Cpl. Dave Williams said of the drivers, who drove through the roadblock perhaps just to get to work on time.

The suicidal man was standing on the outside of the guard rail with a 22-kilogram cinder block attached to his belt via a two-metre long chain.

About 10 minutes into the ordeal-which required the Oak Street Bridge to be closed down during the early hours of the morning commute-the cinder block fell and was left dangling from his belt.

The two officers, who have about one year's worth of experience combined, managed to get the man to talk to them for more than an hour.

At one point, the officers convinced the man to lift up the cinder block so they could continue to keep talking.

When Levy approached the man to help with the block, Hughes grabbed hold of the man's belt and another Vancouver Police officer helped pull the man back over the rail around 6:15 a.m.

The man had meticulously planned his death.

He told police that a 45-metre length of rope with a lifejacket attached to it was meant to assist divers to recover his body. He had also fastened three laminated notes, including a suicide note, a do-no-resuscitate order and an organ donor card, to the bridge's railing.

Williams said the officers risked their own lives to save the man.

Afternoon tea for all seniors

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Organizers anticipate some 350 local seniors will participate in a special afternoon tea party this weekend which honours local seniors and will be hosted by members of the Richmond Chinese Community Society.

This Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m., the second annual Senior Afternoon Tea Party will be held at Continental Seafood Restaurant, 150-11700 Cambie Rd. The event will celebrate a "long and healthy life."

"We invite everyone to come to this afternoon tea," said society executive director Henry Beh.

Beh said his organization is working hard to foster a better understanding between communities of different cultural backgrounds. "We have to do something to educate people," he said.

He said all local seniors are invited to come out to the tea party.

Richmond MP Raymond Chan and Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will be among the local dignitaries officiating over the opening ceremony at 3 p.m., which will be followed by dim sum.

Well-known philanthropist Master Lam Chun will give a short talk on healthy living, and there will be dance demonstrations.

For more information, call 604-270-7222.

Executive director to leave Richmond Hospital Foundation

Jackie Lee-Son has traveling on her mind

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

will leave big shoes to fill when she steps down from her position as executive director of the Richmond Hospital Foundation.

Lee-Son has resigned from the position she's held for the past four-and-a-half years, but has agreed to remain on board until November. That will give the foundation time to find a replacement and will give Lee-Son an opportunity to show the new director around town and introduce him or her to Lee-Son's community contacts.

Asked why she resigned Lee-Son said this change is part of her 10-year personal plan. She plans to travel and has her eyes set on a return to South Africa where her parents and two brothers still life.

The foundation is doing better financially than when she started, thanks in part to a couple of fundraisers that were started, including the Jackpot of Dreams Lottery—which generated $750,000 for the hospital—and the annual bed race at Minoru Oval.

Revenues have increased in all areas, she said. One area that has seen a notable surge is planned giving, where people are encouraged to include the hospital foundation in their wills and estate planning.

This has helped build a solid foundation for the hospital, Lee-Son said.

"I've been very pleased to have brought the foundation to this level," she said.

The hospital foundation recently received news that it will get a $500,000 donation from a life insurance policy, Lee-Son said.

"We are so tremendously appreciative of donors who think enough to do this," she said.

The foundation has also received amazing community support through third-party events, where the foundation benefits from the efforts of service clubs.

So is she planning to leave town for good?

Not anytime soon, she said, noting that she recently purchased an apartment in Richmond.

"I will be back," she said, adding that her two sons live here too.

Oval bids floated at Athens Games

Local decision on site of speed skating venue expected next Tuesday

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

An evaluation team tasked with weighing two proposals for the 2010 Olympic oval consulted sport officials this week in Greece where the possibility of Richmond securing the venue reached the International Olympic Committee (IOC) congress.

Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) chief executive officer John Furlong delivered a progress report to the IOC Thursday in Athens where the Summer Games opened on Friday.

Furlong's half-hour report provided IOC members with an overview of 2010 Winter Games preparations before taking questions.

One delegate raised the issue of change to the original Games proposal.

"We talked a little bit about the potential for a change in location for the oval. We talked a little bit about the potential of where the final location of the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) might be," Furlong said by telephone from Athens.

Richmond began preparing its bid for the speed skating oval after the organizing committee raised concerns that costs for the oval proposed for Simon Fraser University were creeping over the venue's original $69-million price tag.

After a week of consulting sport officials gathered in Athens, the oval evaluation team is expected to make its recommendation next Tuesday to the Vancouver Organizing Committee board, which will ultimately make a decison where the oval will be built.

"Hopefully we will be in position to get a decision that day, although it certainly will be for the board to determine whether or not they feel they are ready to make that decision," said Furlong.

The fate of the International Broadcast Centre, which is slated for Richmond in the bid book, is still up in the air.

Furlong advised the IOC a final determination of its location will be made by the middle of September.

"That decision is coming, and that was quite acceptable to the members."

He said the IOC did not express concern over the uncertainty surrounding the IBC, proposed for federally-owned Garden City Lands.

The Musqueam First Nation blocked a transfer of the property to the City of Richmond earlier this year through a court injunction.

"You have to keep in mind this is a very big project and they expect there to be some discussions like these. They anticipate there can be changes in these plans."

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the city is in the process of finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the Musqueam to acquire the land.

Tourism Richmond is proposing a trade and exhibition centre for the site, which, if built, could be used as the International Broadcast Centre during the Olympics.

This week also marked the beginning of a 2,010-day countdown for the 2010 Winter Games.

In light of construction delays and cost overruns suffered by Athens, Brodie said he's confident Richmond wouldn't face the same problems if it's awarded the oval.

"We've started the process six years early.

"I believe that it's a great opportunity, one which would have a major, positive impact on our city, and the legacy from that would last for decades.

"We are certainly looking forward to Tuesday, we feel confident we made a very strong proposal, and we're now awaiting an outcome."

The site of one Olympic venue has already changed from the one identified in the bid book.

Furlong said the Olympic village in Whistler is now slated for a new site in the community, which is viewed by the IOC and the organizing committee as "vastly superior" to the original plan.

River Rock Casino

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Richmond's Christopher Ralph Edmunds was released on a reduced bail Thursday after a woman came forward to vouch for the 21-year-old and deposit $2,500 to the court.

Edmunds is charged with the July 31 beating of Petro-Canada gas station attendant Kevin Venn, who suffered severe injuries to his face and head, including a broken jaw. Reconstructive surgery has been performed in recent days, and Venn's jaw has been wired shut for the next six weeks.

Richmond provincial court Judge Ron Fratkin had originally ordered that a $25,000 surety (a person who assumes responsibility for another's compliance with court conditions and risks losing the surety if he or she doesn't) or cash bail needed to be secured for Edmunds' release.

Fratkin also barred Edmunds' father and mother from posting the bail, and barred Edmunds from living with them in their Richmond home. (The reasons behind those decisions are barred from publication.)

But after defense lawyer David St. Pierre made submissions to the court, Fratkin acquiesced on the bail amount, which enabled Edmunds to be released on Thursday afternoon.

Following the bail hearing, St. Pierre told the court he's received information that some media publications, including a newspaper and television news station, may have violated the court-ordered ban on publication.

St. Pierre asked that Fratkin admonish the media.

Asked whether there's a chance these alleged breaches will harm his client's right to a fair trial, St. Pierre said: "There is always a chance it could pollute the accurate recounting of the evidence."

He noted that the police investigation is still incomplete, and that there are other witness statements that need to be taken.

Fratkin urged the media to consult their lawyers if at all unsure about the publication ban. He said that if the ban is breached, it could result in a charge under the criminal code.

He made reference to the case involving one journalist who was convicted of breaching a ban in connection with a case involving a series of carjackings in Richmond a few years ago.

"If members of the media want to conduct themselves in a certain fashion, good luck," Fratkin said.

Richmond RCMP Cpl. Dave Williams confirmed Friday morning that local police have launched an investigation into the alleged breaches.

The court ban bars the publication or broadcast of any information from Tuesday's bail hearing, including references to potential evidence, the judge's comments and the reasons behind his decisions.

Asked if a plea is forthcoming from his client, St. Pierre told The Richmond Review that he won't even discuss the matter with his client until the police investigation wraps up.

At that point, St. Pierre will sit down with Edmunds and his family and discuss the evidence and make a decision on how they want to proceed.

St. Pierre said he originally wanted another court date relatively soon, but was told by the Crown that more witnesses need to be interviewed and there's more disclosure of evidence coming.

However, a decision on the plea could be made by the time they are scheduled to return to Richmond provincial court on Sept. 2, St. Pierre said.

"I think he's anxious to deal with the matter," St. Pierre said of his client.

Edmunds, who is charged with aggravated assault, was freed on Thursday and must comply with several conditions.

  • he is prohibited from contacting the woman he was with that night

  • he is prohibited from going to Venn's work, school or home

  • he is prohibited from going within a block of the Petro Canada station at No. 3 and Williams roads

  • he is prohibited from contacting a short list of people, including those who witnessed the assault

  • he is prohibited from drinking alcohol

  • he must abide by a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

  • he must report to a bail supervisor

Meanwhile, support for Venn continues to grow.

He now has two trust funds set up in his name to give him some financial support while he's unable to work because of his injuries.

A trust fund has been set up in Venn's name at TD/Canada Trust (Account No. 6237112 and Transit No. 725) as well as at Coast Capital Savings on No. 3 Road. Donations can be made at any branch of those two financial institutions.

Venn's girlfriend, Lindsay Reinke, told CTV News Thursday that Venn has some financial challenges ahead.

"He's in a lot of debt financially because of student loans. So a lot of it's me helping him out and I'm also a student and I don't make too much, so we're trying."

As first reported by The Richmond Review on Thursday, Venn's claim with the Workers Compensation Board is in doubt because he stepped off of the Petro-Canada gas station property at No. 3 and Williams roads when he came to the aid of a woman screaming for help.

He was injured during an act that was outside the scope of his job at the gas station, and that could cost him.

Casino rolling in business

Financial figures won't be released for two months, but so far so good.

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Business is booming at the recently opened River Rock Casino Resort, and that means there's a rosy future ahead for Richmond residents.

Although the financial figures won't be released for another six weeksaround late September the city will receive its first cut of the casino's proceeds after its first three months in operationthe head count seen thus far looks promising.

The city's annual slice of the revenue pie is projected to be in the region of $10 million.

Since the province's flagship casino opened its doors in late June, an average of 15,000 people per day have walked in, said Howard Blank, spokesperson for the Great Canadian Casino, which runs the River Rock location.

"We're very pleased with the numbers that are coming through."

Gamblers are literally rolling in, and in record numbers, he said.

The local casino's first month of bus tours pulled in huge numbers of gamblers. In fact, that month's total exceeded the entire year's tour bus draw at Great Canadian's Coquitlam casino.

Blank said it's a sign that a facility like this one in Richmond will continue to draw customers.

Casino officials are currently trying to lure a major poker tournament to Richmond, which could have major spin-off benefits for the city in terms of money spent and exposure to a worldwide audience.

With the growing interest in poker, Blank is hopeful Richmond can one day host a World Poker Tour event, or perhaps its Canadian equivalent.

The Richmond facility already boasts Canada's largest poker room, and the site's showroom facility will be capable of handling 100 tables.

That's enough space for 1,000 players.

Blank said those players usually bring along friends and wives, so that number could easily double.

And a major event like the World Poker Tour would bring the television cameras and journalists too, which not only put the spotlight on the gambling and feature segments about the players, but also profile the host city and facility.

"It's almost like a mini Olympics," Blank said.

This week, the Canadian Poker Player Magazine was in Richmond doing a photo shoot for an article.

"Definitely, the West Coast knows about us," Blank said. But the challenge now is to grow Richmond's reputation Canada-wide and throughout North America and the rest of the world.

Blank said the casino is planning a major New Year's Eve event and said the featured act will be announced soon.

On Friday, the casino hosted a performance by 1970s disco group The Village People. The event was for around 3,000 invited guests, contest winners, and casino high rollers.

In some respects, the best is yet to come at the casino.

A 400-seat buffet will be open soon, and the casino will eventually boast the largest sports bar in a Canadian casino.

A hotel is slated to open on March 31 next year, while several restaurants, including both Chinese and Italian, as well as a waterfront seafood and steak eatery, are also in the works.

Commercial fishers wrap up sockeye season

Union calls for increased openings on the Fraser River

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

Fraser River commercial fishers were out for a third and final day of their bread-and-butter fishery this week, angering the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union, which called for more openings in light of good sockeye returns.

"DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) is no longer capable of managing Fraser River salmon fisheries and seems intent on driving hard-working fishermen out of business," said Garth Mirau, vice-president of UFAWU-CAW.

Wednesday's two-hour sockeye fishery attracted 349 vessels, which caught an estimated 29,000 fish, wrapping up a modest year for Fraser River gillnetters.

Mirau said the DFO is restricting the commercial fishery to protect a few small, endangered salmon runs, while doing nothing to protect fish habitat.

Area "E" (Fraser) Gillnetters Association Director Bob McKamey said allowing more fishing opportunities on the Fraser is something his group has been advocating for some time.

McKamey said the core problem is the DFO's fishing strategy, which he said is based on the early return of late-run sockeye. He said the DFO hasn't done its homework in determining whether those fish are returning to traditional migration patterns.

"I support a very scientific look at this rather than a public one about what are the facts regarding the return of late fish and what are the facts regarding missed fishing opportunities."

But the DFO's Wayne Saito, Canadian chair of the Fraser River Panel, said managing the resource is difficult during a time when a few sockeye stocks are depleting to low levels and when the catch for First Nations food, social and ceremonial use is now a priority.

First Nations were also granted the right to an ongoing sales fishery this summer.

Adding to the difficulties in allowing the commercial fleet more fishing time is that 2004 is a low cycle for sockeye returns.

"We can't be fair to all people. There are times when hard choices need to be made," he said.

"When you compare it to what you did 10 or 15 years ago, there's no question we're not even close to being the same kind of fishery but the reasons are we have our obligations to the resource and to First Nations."

Saito pointed to some positive news: the return of Fraser sockeye was slightly better than forecasted and the attempt to restart the Fraser River chinook fishery for gillnetters is underway.

If that pilot project is successful, the chinook fishery, which stopped over 20 years ago, would be a small selective fishery.

"We're going to grow this fishery," said Saito. "But when you haven't done it in a long time, we as managers got to re-learn how to manage these fisheries."

Signs of change coming to New World

Restaurant owner apologetic about omission of English on his establishment's signage

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Yung-li Liu meant no offense by omitting English from his Taiwanese restaurant's marquee on Granville Avenue, near St. Alban's.

The owner of New World Taiwanese restaurant sat down with The Richmond Review Friday and acknowledged the error and his plans to make amends.

Through restaurant consultant Samson Yuen, who acted as interpreter, Liu said he was sorry about the error.

He'd intended all along to include English, but the company hired to make his new signs had difficulty accurately translating the Chinese characters which comprise his restaurant's name. In fact, the characters don't translate and that has prompted him to retain the name of the previous restaurant, known as New World.

But with the restaurant's management having changed recently, and Liu taking over the helm, the issue had been put on the backburner.

That changed last weekend, when The Richmond Review first wrote about the issue, followed in quick succession by prominent coverage in Richmond's two Chinese-language dailies: Sing Tao and Ming Pao.

The Richmond Review article about New World, and another about an Atlanta, Georgia Chinese couple who complained about poor service from Asian eateries, generated a large community response in the form of numerous letters to the editor and several phone calls.

Richmond MP Raymond Chan, minister of state for multiculturalism, said Friday it's exactly these types of issues that his new ministry will address.

Chan said he sees these two incidents as distinct and separate issues.

Although Liu's mistake was not intentional, Chan said new entrepreneurs need to be proactive and tap into local knowledge to ensure they don't create more barriers and shut out those who don't speak or read Chinese.

That's where people like Samson Yuen can play such an important role, Chan said. There needs to be more publicity and greater awareness generated about these types of services which are available to newcomers, he added.

"They're very helpful to ensure these types of things don't happen again."

"To me it's a challenge for Canada in the long run and this is why my ministry is important."

"We all agree here the sign should have English, or else it will be a barrier and hinder Mr. Liu's business."

In terms of service, Chan, who often eats out, said local eateries do a "good job."

Cummins warns of boat trouble

Local MP says residents have been threatened at Ladner park launch

Julia Caranci, Regional Reporter

There's a potentially volatile situation brewing between natives and non-natives in Delta over the recently reinstated native-only fishery on the Fraser River, says John Cummins, Conservative MP for Delta South-Richmond.

The on-again, off-again, on-again Pilot Sales Fishing Program restarted this month after the courts decided it did not discriminate against non-native commercial fishers.

This week, Cummins said a Delta-owned boat launch ramp offering public access to the river has become a flashpoint for conflict.

Cummins, who is an outspoken critic of the native-only salmon fishery (although he is no longer the fisheries critic), said members of the Tsawwassen and Musqueam bands have taken over the boat ramp at Wellington Point Park in Ladner.

"It's a park on Delta land built for the enjoyment of Delta citizens," Cummins said. "But native bands have been tying up that wharf for their fishery."

Cummins said the launch wasn't built to permit use by large fishing boats, which are being tied there stressing the infrastructure. He said he has personally seen up to four native fishing boats at the launch at one time, ostensibly blocking its use by the public.

Cummins said several local residents who have attempted to use the facility to access the river have been told to leave.

"They've been threatened and intimidated."

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said there have been problems at the site in the pastthe most recent troubles came to her attention last week.

City staff confirmed members of the public have been denied use of the boat launch by some band members. Jackson called their actions "totally inappropriate."

"They have no claim, no right to that propertyit is a public area for everyone to use," she said.

Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird admits use of the boat launch has become an issue, but argues there is no other local boat launch providing access to the river.

It is an unfortunate coincidence the fishery occurs during the summer months and on weekends, when there is a high demand for use of the launch, she said.

"It has interfered with recreational users there is competing use over a very short time period (12- to 36-hour openings)," she said, adding it is a regrettable situation but no one can control how individuals behave.

Baird said the band would welcome an objective overseer, perhaps a city employee.

But Jackson argues there is no reason Delta staff should be compelled to police the park when it is public land.

Legal authorities for the Corporation of Delta are looking into the matter, she added.

Meanwhile, Cummins is angry the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has allowed the park to be taken over by native fishermen and says Ottawa is exacerbating an already volatile situation.

"If the right people meet up there, there's going to be trouble one day—that's the real danger."

Burnaby mayor decries Richmond's oval bid

Eric Rosales, MetroValley News

Municipal leaders who surround Burnaby Mountain made it clear Friday morning that Simon Fraser University should be the only venue of choice to build an Olympic speed skating oval.

Speaking at a press conference at the university's Terry Fox Sports Field, Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan said they came together to show their unified support.

"The university can receive a lasting legacy for now and into the future," he said. "At SFU, it will be a regional facility, where all kids can be part of the atmosphere and traditional sports excellence."

New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright, Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young and Coqutilam's acting mayor Louella Hollington flanked Corrigan.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) originally committed to SFU as the site for the skating oval, but will now choose between SFU's proposal and one from the city of Richmond.

"It's disgusting how they are trying to take this away from SFU, even when there are many Richmond students going to SFU," Corrigan said afterward. "Richmond (was awarded) the media centre and none of us complained, we accepted that. We weren't hanging around like vultures trying to take that away from them."

Both Simon Fraser and Richmond recently made their presentations to the VANOC to build the facility, and a decision could be made as soon as late August.

"We need facilities like this," Young said. "The Olympics are all about building legacies, and leaving healthy legacies behind when they are finished. This is one of the most vibrant communities for sports, and the benefits here will be tremendous. Port Coquitlam very much stands behind this."

Corrigan said that it's disappointing that the VANOC has turned the bid process into a secret competition pitting different municipalities against one another.

"It's unfair to the university. They don't have the access to the type of funding or benefits to developers like Richmond has," he said.

Wright said he's hopeful that the VANOC makes the right decision, one that isn't influenced solely by money.

No nip, no tuck

Richmond cosmetics maker suggests non-surgical, natural route with African tribal remedy

Philip Raphael, Staff Reporter

Spare science and the scalpel and embrace a centuries-old, natural, African tribal remedy.

That's the advice from Richmond pharmacist Darryl Segal to those searching for that ever-elusive fountain of youth.

Segal, who heads up International Cosmeticare Inc., which for the past 25 years in Canada has been selling shampoos, condtioners and scalp treatments designed to promote hair regrowth, recently launched a new line of products he says are an effective alternative to plastic surgery and drug therapy to treat the effects of aging.

"Why go through botox (injections) or surgery to look younger when we have something that can provide comparable results without any of the side effects," explains Segal who has adapted his father Lou's formulas that incorporate unique plant extracts first used by east African bush country tribes during rituals meant to exorcise evil spirits. Now they are being tapped for their abundance of powerful antioxidants to battle the relentless aging processes in the human body.

One plant recently added to the Segals' secret blend is Rooibos (pronounced Roy-boss), a hardy tea-like bush that only grows in the parched, sandy soils of South Africa's North Western Cape area.

Currently, International Cosmeticare is the first manufacturer in Canada to add Rooibos to hair and skin products, and to date, the plant is being used in a new line that comes under the company's brand called Natural and Healthy.

International Cosmeticare imports the plant in a tincture form-a solution obtained by steeping the plant in a fluid. And from there it is added to a mixture of other natural ingredients and sold in a four-step kit that includes a cleasner, facial masque, daytime moisturizer, and night cream.

Locally, the kit is available through drug stores, most notably at London Drugs which has recently signed on to distribute the product line.

"As pharmacists we have always been led to believe that the scientific method is the best way to treat most human ailments," Lou Segal says. "And during most of my career the medical establishment has been very hostile to alternative medicine."

But that philosophy seems to be changing, he explains.

"Medical researchers are finding we are entering a period when established medicine is re-evaluating the role of various alternative medical treatments. This is merely established medicine returning to its roots."

And it was at those very basic levels where Lou Segal came across the almost magical properties of the Rooibos plant.

"My father discovered it while he was on a safari tour," explains Segal, whose family moved to Canada in 1979 from South Africa where they ran a successful cosmetics business. "He found a tribe that had lovely, youthful skin, as well as thick full hair, while other tribes nearby didn't have the same results."

The Rooibos-using group was adding the plant's leaves to a muddy paste they would apply to their faces and hair during their tribal rituals.

"They saw themselves as being connected to earth and moon, so using a paste made from the roots, mud and plants helped them get rid of evil spirits as they danced around the fires at night," adds father Lou who became a household name in South Africa for his products that lined the shelves of drug stores across the country. "But what was happenning was they were giving themselves these fantastic facials that today cost women hundreds of dollars."

So intrigued was Lou Segal with the results of the tribe's "rituals" that he asked if he could have some of the special mixture to take home with him to Cape Town where he could analyze it in his laboratory.

"They put it into a bucket, and when I was crossing back over the border the customs officer asked me what the value of the contents was," he recalls. "I told him it could be very valuable one day. And when he saw only a bucket full of mud he said I was crazy and charged me a nominal duty of about a dollar."

Since then, the Segals have been busy perfecting their all natural concoctions while establishing a name for themselves on this side of the Atlantic.

The company's lines are also sold in 16 countries around the globe. Most recently, distributors have been secured in Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

"Asia in general is pretty busy for us. Hong Kong is probably our biggest market," Darryl Segal says. "It's funny. Our company is likely more well known outside of Canada."

As an example of that, he recalls a recent experience when he appeared on the Taiwanese version of the The Shopping Channel (TSC) and was greeted by crowds of satisfied users of his products, and remarkable sales.

"He was like a rock star over there," adds Lou.

"They were treating me like the god of hair. And we sold about 600 kits in about a one hour show," adds Darryl Segal, who has a full head of wavy hair and is not shy about using his image on promotional materials.

"It has been hard to get things going, especially since my father was very well known for his products in South Africa. Here in Canada, nobody knew who he was. So we've had to rebuild the business. And our success has been based on the results our customers have been getting with the products.

Model behaviour

Toru Kato's passion for building scale boats, planes, and submarines is balanced with patience and great attention to detail

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

If a walk through Toru Kato's Steveston home doesn't prove his facination for boats, it's impressed on his sea-weathered face.

Make that beach-weathered face.

Since his retirement in 1989, the 80-year-old has been busy plying his craft—model shipbuilding. And his home, decorated with more than 20, scratch-built models of fishing boats, rowboats and gunboats (some almost a metre long), is a virtual harbour.

Once each labour of love is complete, the waters off Garry Point Park test how seaworthy the battery-powered ships really are. The water has yet to best one of Kato's collection.

"I like to build small ships, install a battery and a radio, then go to a pond," Toru says through a thick Japanese accent. "I take them out in the water. I can enjoy myself."

Fans of maritime history can catch a glimpse of some of Toru's models at next weekend's Maritime Festival at Steveston's Britannia Shipyards, National Historic Site, Aug. 20-22.

The former gas plant worker, who arrived in Richmond in richmond in the late 1970s, has impressed others of his handiwork before, at events such as Steveston's Salmon Festival.

But his family doesn't entirely share his enthusiasm.

Playing with small models powered by an elastic-driven propellor, Toru learned of the persistance needed to complete such projects early in elementary school.

But his young grandchildren are none too patient for the process of designing, cutting, sanding, assembling and painting. And his 72-year-old wife, Masako Kato has her own creative hobby that decks the walls of a poom parading her husband's ships—crafting traditional Japanese dolls.

Nevertheless, a passion for models has also spurred Toru to create remote-controlled model aircraft.

Never has one of his boats sunk, but an airplane has taken a fateful dive.

He remembers returning home, with the crumpled model, plucking the engine from its belly before the trash can marked his only defeat.

His model submarine occasionaly hits a snag in the water, forcing Toru to wade Garry Point's water during the cold winter months, his favourite time of year to captain his vessels.

Masako assures: "It doesn't matter how cold, he'll pick up the boat."

Model making, Toru says, requires dedication. "everyday, three or four hours."

His wife has a different perspective.

"I don't think so," says Masako. "The whole day. He never get tired."

Nor does his imagination. Never one to waste anything, Toru crafted two of his prize boats from wood taken from the frame of worn-out couch.

"it was nice wood," he says sheepishly.

Health officials warn E. coli infections on the rise

Dozens of cases reported province-wide, some linked to shipment of tainted beef

Julia Caranci, Regional Reporter

New cases of E. coli infection are on the rise in the Lower Mainland and province-wide, and health officials say some are linked to a shipment of tainted beef.

Dr. John Blatherwick, chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, confirmed 10 of 46 cases of the infection reported in B.C. since July 1 are related to a shipment of meat from Alberta contaminated by E. coli O157:H7.

Thirteen of the 46 cases are in the Fraser Health Authority - two of those are linked to the Alberta meat.

The affected products include regular, lean and extra lean ground beef products from Westfair Foods Ltd., sold at Extra Foods, Super Valu and The Real Canadian Superstore, among others.

The products may have been sold at stores in B.C. between June 12 and June 21 with best before dates from June 15 to June 24 inclusive.

Westfair is voluntarily recalling the products.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) physician epidemiologist Dr. Murray Fyfe said the 10 cases have the same "fingerprint" (match the sub-type of E. coli O157:H7) as the recalled beef.

Nine other cases are currently being tested to determine if they are related.

If consumers have any doubt they may have purchased the recalled meat, they should return or discard it, health officials say.

"There's no guarantee any beef is free of E. coli," Fyfe said. "That's why I'm concerned about these recalls-it gives the message that every time there's something wrong with beef it's recalled. I don't want anybody to assume that."

The other 27 cases have a different pattern and are believed to be unrelated to the recall.

Cases of the illness have been popping up all over B.C.

"The numbers are way up," Blatherwick said. "We would normally see half this number of cases by this time of year."

BCCDC officials say there are about 150 cases of E. coli infection in the province annually - most occur in the summer. There can be 20 or more cases per month in July and August - many are related to undercooked barbecued beef.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a bacteria found in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals which can be transferred to meat during the slaughtering process.

E. coli can contaminate ground beef because the grinding process spreads the bacteria throughout the product.

It can then be passed from food into people, from food to other food, from contaminated people to other people and from contaminated people to food during preparation and cooking.

The main symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea and abdominal pain, which usually starts two to four days after being infected.

While most recover within 10 days, an important complication of this infection is hemolytic-uremic-syndrome (HUS), which can cause renal (kidney) failure.

Children under six are especially susceptible to this complication.

Anyone who develops these symptoms after eating ground meat should consult their physician immediately.

The death of an elderly Vancouver woman at Royal Columbian Hospital this week was not the result of an E. coli infection as initially suspected, although she did have the bacteria in her stool, said FHA chief medical health officer Dr. Roland Guasparini on Thursday.

Test results obtained late yesterday (Aug. 11) revealed that the woman died of a heart-related illness.

E. coli : protect yourself and your family

  • Wrap raw meat properly and store it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator
  • Always cook ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 71 degrees Celsius
  • Never put cook meat on the same plate use for raw meat
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling raw meat

Hot weather equals poor air quality

Conditions predicted to worsen over the next couple of days.

Damon Dunbar, MetroValley News

A lingering high pressure system is leading to a build up of pollution, causing the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) to warn that air quality will deteriorate in the next couple days.

Air quality in the Eastern GVRD and the Lower Fraser Valley is forecast to be Fair to Poor today (Friday) and into the weekend.

This is the first time this summer an air quality advisory has been issued.

"There's very little air movement, so there has been nothing to flush these pollutants out," explained Ken Stubbs, GVRD administrator of air quality.

And with the high pressure system remaining for at least a couple more days, the situation will only get worse.

"In other words, there is no end in sight for the summer," said Stubbs.

People with impaired immune systems, especially those suffering from cardiovascular or lung disease, should limit their activity outdoors.

The public is being asked to reduce their own emissions. Driving is a major contributor to air pollution, but even mowing the lawn or lighting a barbecue has an effect, said Stubbs.

Updated air quality reports for specific regions are available on the GVRD website at

Laundry services contracted out in Fraser Health Authority

FHA promises no jobs will be lost and millions of dollars will be gained from new contract

Julia Caranci, Regional Reporter

Union officials are bewildered that the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) will contract out laundry services to the private sector when an efficient service in Delta has been doing the work for years.

Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) spokesperson Margi Blamey said Tilbury Regional Hospital Laundry, owned and operated by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and located in Delta, has been performing laundry services for both Vancouver Coastal and the FHA since before the health authorities were amalgamated in 2001.

"It's a surprise they want to get rid of this well-run public facility," Blamey said. "It's always been an efficient and highly productive laundry [service]."

This week the FHA announced it has awarded a $50-million contract for laundry services at five of its hospitals -Burnaby, Delta, Langley Memorial, Peace Arch and Ridge Meadows -all formerly served by the Delta facility.

Ecotex Laundry Services in Abbotsford and Keefer Laundry in Burnaby were the successful bidders.

The 10-year contract is expected to save the health authority $5 million.

FHA chief of shared services, Bob J. Smith, said the health authority is confident the private vendors will deliver quality service at the lowest possible price.

FHA officials vow no jobs in the health authority will be lost to the changeover, expected to take place over the next few months.

Those who distribute laundry at the affected sites will continue to do so.

While the approximately 50 affected workers at Tilbury are not employed by the FHA (they are Vancouver Coastal employees), Blamey said many live in the South Fraser region, including Surrey and Delta.

She said the workers will be laid off in two waves: 30 by the end of this year and another 20 next year.

Union officials say there are ongoing concerns with the quality of work performed by private contractors ,such as those now doing security and housekeeping duties at FHA facilities.

Wages also tend to be lower, generally in the $9 to $12 per hour range.

The FHA contracted out laundry services at Mission Memorial, MSA, Chilliwack General and Fraser Canyon Hospitals in 2002, resulting in the loss of 43 jobs.

The successful bidder was K-Bro Linen Systems, a Calgary-based company.

All the hospitals in the FHA, including Surrey Memorial Hospital, have contracted out laundry services.

July real estate sales cool

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Fewer properties changed hands in Richmond last month conpared to July 2003, according to statistics released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

The slow down was part of the anticipated annual real-estate cycle, which during the summer months traditionally sees a drop in transactions as homeowners and buyers go on holidays.

While richmond saw a dramatic drop in the number of houses sold, the selling prices jumped nearly as sharply.

The number of detached homes sold locally last month was 129, down more than 38 per cent when compared to July of 2003's total of 209.

However the average selling price of those homes soared, up 22 per cent in just one year, from $365,000 to $445,000 last month.

It wasn't just detached home prices that have risen during the white hot real estate market.

Townhomes and apartments have seen their average selling prices increase too.

the average townhouse sold a year ago went for $248,000, while last month the median rose to nearly $290,000.

Apartment prices also jumped on average, from $154,000 a year ago to $169,000 last month.

"It's important to note that sales figures for July reflect a return to more normal market cycles, when consumers take a break for summer vacation," said Andrew Peck, president of the real estate board. "Our market continues to be one of the strongest in recent history. We are still selling far more properties monthly than we were three or four years ago."

Housing starts in B.C. are the strongest amon all of the provinces, with an anticipated increase of 21.1 per centfor 2004, to 31,700 units, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Canada-wide, the number of housing starts is expected tohit a 17-year-high by the finish of 2004, up to 225,700 units.

"In March of this year, the five-year mortage rate was at the lowest level since April 1951. Although rates have risen, they remain very low and together with solid employment and income gains, will propel housing starts to a 17-year high," said CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan.

Dugan said that as mortgage rates continue to rise next year, that should ahve a cooling effect on the demand for new homes, and housing starts are expected to drop across Canada.

But B.C. will buck that country-wide trend, with housing starts expected to rise 32,400 units in 2005.

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