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Street racing can cost millions
Some street racers will be paying back ICBC for the rest of their lives

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

For many street racers, affluence has furnished them with their souped-up vehicles and it could be wealthor specifically the fear of losing itthat is the key to stopping them.

Since 1999, 430 people have had their vehicle insurance policies voided because they broke the law, and they now owe the Insurance Corporation of B.C. a total of nearly $34 million, The Richmond Review has learned.

Doug McClelland, spokesperson for ICBC, said a criminal conviction of dangerous driving, such as in the case of a street-racing accident, means a policy holder's vehicle insurance is voided.

That means medical payments, civil damages and vehicle repairs become the responsibility of the at-fault driver, or sometimes their parents.

In two Lower Mainland cases, high speed is now irreversibly linked to a high price for two young men.

A 22-year-old man driving a high-performance car was involved in racing-related accident that claimed a life. He was convicted in court of using a vehicle in a race or speed test, and so now owes ICBC $1.43 million.

In another case, a 24-year-old man was responsible for a high-speed crash that resulted in serious injuries. He was also convicted and now owes ICBC $2.2 million for medical costs, future care, lost income and vehicle repairs.

McClelland said that in some cases, a family's assets can be pursued by ICBC, such as when the car is insured by the parent, or when the child still lives at home.

The financial impact of a few seconds of fun "can be amazingly catastrophic," McClelland said.

"Parents should be questioning whether their kids need high performance racing cars. In reality, they are putting deadly vehicles in the hands of their kids."

Richmond school trustee Chak Au said appealing to parents and tapping into their fear of losing their wealth, could be a successful tactic.

"I think the parents should be made known of the consequences. I don't think they fully understand (that)."

Au said more needs to be done to curb the high-speed racing that continues to take lives.

He believes in taking a multi-pronged approach, from informing parents and raising public awareness to stricter laws and better enforcement.

Au formed the Stop Illegal Racing Citizens Concern Group in direct response to the weekend death of RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng.

"We want to take action and bring together different sectors of the community. This time we need some action for these young people."

Au is organizing a public forum next month where he hopes to form an action plan.

Au has set up a trust fund in the name of Jimmy Ng at the HSBC of Canada. The money will be donated to Ng's family who will decide on its proper use, Au said.

Drivers charged in MVA

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Two young Richmond men have been charged in Richmond Provincial Court for the high-speed crash that claimed a Richmond Mountie Sunday morning.

Yau Chung (Stuart) Chan, 19 and Ying Hua (David) Guian, 20, were both charged in the two-car crash that claimed the life of Richmond RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng. Ng was, according to witnesses, driving through a green light at No. 3 and Williams roads around 2:45 a.m. when his police cruiser was struck on the driver's side by a new 2003 Honda Civic, which allegedly ran a red light. The impact demolished the police car, completely crushing one side of it.

While Ng died of his injuries after being rushed to hospital, police say the driver of the Civic got into another car, a newer model BMW, and left the scene.

It was only with the public's help that police were able to locate the driver of the Civic and the driver of the car that allegedly helped the suspect leave the scene. Chan is charged with criminal negligence causing death and leaving the scene of an accident. Guian is charged with dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

Chan and Guian both appeared in Richmond Provincial Court Monday, but the court issued a publication ban on the evidence.

Richmond RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen said investigators are looking at the possibility that the accident was the result of street racing. At the very least, "excessive speeding at a horrendous level" was involved, he said.

Investigators are continuing to look into the accident and have received information that a third person may have been involved at some level, Thiessen said.

One witness told reporters she was in the intersection at the same time as Ng and if it were not for Ng's vehicle, her car would have been struck. She estimated the Civic was travelling between 160 and 180 kilometres per hour.

Stricter laws urged for new drivers

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Sunday morning's crash not only took the life of a committed young RCMP officer, it brought back painful memories for Gary and Judi McBride.

"It's kind of twofold because I work in Richmond and Const. Ng went through the (Richmond school) system," said Gary, a principal at General Currie Elementary. "It kind of brought things to the forefront."

In the wake of the loss of their own son in a high speed collision earlier this year, the McBrides have been actively lobbying for changes to the province's graduated licensing program.

B.C.'s program is weak, they say, and is ineffective in preparing young drivers for the responsibilities of the road.

"This is not about taking away children's rights," Judi says.

A proper, graduated program is about giving increasing levels of responsibility, she says.

"Driving is a privilege."

Most people remember high school days, piling into a friend's car on a warm spring afternoon to do a little cruising. Joking around, having a little fun, showing off.

For the Delta couple's 16-year-old son, Spencer, and three of his friends, that combination proved lethal earlier this year. They were in a car driven by a fifth teen that was allegedly trying to beat a train on Deltaport Way. The car collided with a trailer truck and was torn in half.

"I'm sure they weren't street racing," says Judi. "It was just the exuberance of a spring afternoon."

Killed with Spencer that day were Reece Marshall, Kevin Sanghera and Michael Parker, all passengers in a late model Chrysler.

Unlike the street racing culture, in which young (usually) male drivers gather under darkness in an organized way to test their cars on public roadways, the Delta crash was the product of a group of teens who just thought they were fooling around.

Judi, Gary, and Reece's parents, Mike and Sue Marshall, are among a growing group of parents and non-parents who argue that young drivers are being short-changed. They're being put in charge of a half-ton of metal before they have received the maturity and training the reponsibility deserves.

They're part of a growing group of people that is calling on B.C.'s solicitor general to give the province's graduated licensing program some teeth. As it stands, getting a full-privilege Class 5 driver's licence takes about two yearsbut it's really only the first six months that resembles a training ground.

Once a driver has written a knowledge test and received their learner's, they must be accompanied by someone 19 or older (with a valid driver's licence) at all times. Passengers are restricted to this person and one other passenger.

The learner is also restricted from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. After six months, the driver can take a road test and, if successful, advance to the novice phase, lasting a minimum 18 months. The only limitation the driver faces at this stage is they cannot have alcohol in their system while behind the wheel.

Gary McBride says the current system allows passengers in the car too soon. If a new driver takes a driver course, he can receive a novice license in only three months and face no restriction on the number of passengers.

"I believe the first six months it should be restricted to no teen passengers," he said.

The next six months would allow one or two passengers, he said.

If the changes are made, teens would still be able to drive their friends around, but would be required to have a lot more driving practice before that time came.

There is a significant body of research to support the parents' claim that passenger restrictions can save lives.

According to a report in March from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, the risk of a fatal crash for 16- and 17-year-olds is 39 per cent higher with one teenage passenger in the vehicle than for the driver alone. That risk increases by 86 per cent with two teenage passengers. Fatal injuries are 2.82 times more likely with three or more teenage passengers.

Fifty-five jurisdictions in North America have some form of graduated licensing. Most were set up since 1994, so the numbers are preliminary, but promising.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says graduated licensing has resulted in "impressive crash and injury reductions" where it has been introduced.

In the first year of graduated licensing in Nova Scotiawhich has stronger restrictions than B.C.there were 24 per cent fewer collisions involving 16-year-old drivers.

In B.C., drivers aged 16 to 20 represent seven per cent of the driving population, but accounted for 15.6 per cent of drivers involved in collisions in 1999.

"The frustrating part for us is, reading all this research, it's all there," Gary says.

Marshall and the McBrides made a presentation to Solicitor General Rich Coleman last spring and said they received a warm reception. Coleman has directed the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to review the graduated licensing program on issues such as nighttime restrictions, passenger restrictions and required amount of supervised driving. The parents were asked to act as an advisory committee.

ICBC said this week it will present its report on the program within the next month.

Another initiative that keeps the parents going is a project called the B.C. Youth Traffic Safety Symposium. With the assistance of Bruce Fuller, an advisor to a former solicitor general and that ministry's Traffic Safety Directorate, the plan is to bring youth from all over the province to Richmond next spring to make recommendations to government about ways to make the roads safer.

"Youth making recommendations to government is a lot more powerful than parents making recommendations," said Fuller, who is with AFM Hospitality Corp., which runs the Ramada Plaza/Park Plaza hotel locally.

Gary says the families of the teens killed in the Delta crash have poured their energies into making this project and the changes to graduated licensing a reality.

"That's our families' passion right now, to be proactive and ensure we can make a difference and save lives on the road," said Gary, who can be e-mailed at

Man dies in Sunday morning shooting

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Richmond RCMP are investigating a shooting incident at an East Richmond home Sunday morning.

Around 4 a.m., police were called to a house on the 15300 block of Westminster Highway, near No. 7 Road, where they found a 43-year-old man who had been shot.

He was rushed to hospital but later died.

According to police investigators, there were about eight people in the home attending a party when a masked man broke in to the house and robbed the partygoers.

The robber allegedly then discharged his weapon, striking the 43-year-old.

Anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area that night, or has information about the shooting or the gunman is asked to call the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212.

Man dies in Sunday morning shooting

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Richmond RCMP are investigating a shooting incident at an East Richmond home Sunday morning.

Around 4 a.m., police were called to a house on the 15300 block of Westminster Highway, near No. 7 Road, where they found a 43-year-old man who had been shot.

He was rushed to hospital but later died.

According to police investigators, there were about eight people in the home attending a party when a masked man broke in to the house and robbed the partygoers.

The robber allegedly then discharged his weapon, striking the 43-year-old.

Anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area that night, or has information about the shooting or the gunman is asked to call the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212.

City safe despite strain
Rash of serious incidents hasn't prevented police from keeping the city's streets safe

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Several dozen RCMP officers from other detachments have been brought into Richmond to help handle the sharp increase in serious investigations in the city over the past couple of weeks.

This weekend alone, police were called to two serious incidents: the fatal collision that claimed RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng and a murder inside a home that was being robbed on Westminster Highway at No. 7 Road. A week ago, a man was fatally beaten outside a marijuana growing operation. Late last month, a badly decomposed body was found in a hayfield on Steveston Highway, near No. 6 Road, and foul play has not been ruled out.

Richmond RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen assured residents that their safety is not being compromised by the strain on local police resources and that the city is being kept safe.

In fact, other jurisdictions have offered their assistance, including those plainclothes and uniform RCMP officers currently working here.

The new police chief of the Vancouver Police Department also offered to supply resources during this difficult time, Thiessen said.

While the workload is daunting, crimes are still being solved and bad guys are being put in jail.

Investigators recently arrested Shawn Murray in connection with a bank robbery late last month. Murray had been serving a federal prison sentence for robbery at the time and his parole has now been suspended. He is also being investigated for other robberies.

Witnesses felt helpless as truck careened out-of-control

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Witnesses to a horrific 10-car accident on Highway 99 in August of 2000 testified this week in the trial of the driver of the gravel truck that barrelled into them.

Three peopleMiroslav Dudljij, Robert Kinderwater and Andrew Middletonwere killed in the crash that caused some vehicles to burst into flames during the early morning rush hour on Aug. 2, 2000. Gursharan `Gary' Singh Dhaliwal is charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

On Tuesday morning, Rick Hodgson, who also happens to be a gravel truck driver by occupation, testified he could do little more than watch after he first heard the distinctive sound of brakes squealing and cars slamming against cars.

"I just braced myself for the impact," said Hodgson, who was in his car lined up in the southbound lane heading toward the Deas Island tunnel. "I had nowhere to get the heck out of the way. It happened so quick."

Hodgson's 1974 Plymouth Valiant was rear-ended, struck from the side, and propelled forward into the truck in front of him.

"I remember seeing (another vehicle) on my passenger side and then my windows blew out," Hodgson told Richmond provincial court judge Ron Fratkin.

Fortunately for Hodgson, the gravel truck, which was pulling along a trailer, came to a stop two car lengths from Hodgson's vehicle. Although his car was badly damaged, he was able to move it onto the shoulder of the road to make room for emergency vehicles.

Dhaliwal was driving a Kenworth gravel truck owned by Richmond-based Harjit and Sons.

Police believed shortly after the accident that the dump truck's brakes were out of alignment and that could have hampered its ability to stop quickly.

Another eyewitness said the gravel truck was travelling in the fast lane when it cut back into the middle of the three southbound and clipped the rear of two cars, a Toyota and a late-model Plymouth.

The collision occurred about seven or eight blocks north of Steveston Highway.

Two front-seat passengers in the Toyota that the truck struck were killed after it burst into blames, while the occupant of a Plymouth also died.

Defection-plagued Richmond NPA announces candidates

Chris Bryan, Staff reporter

The Richmond Non-Partisan Association, which lost most of their incumbents to an upstart party, announced five candidates for Nov. 16's civic election.

And one of them will come as a surprise to observers of Richmond politics and Steveston residents. Erika Simm, outspoken in her support of saving the cannery buildings on the B.C. Packers' site, will run for council on the non-partisan slate. Most of the former Richmond NPA councillors supported the redevelopment of the site.

"I'm still the same Erika Simm, and I will not be muzzled and the NPA knows that," Simm said. "The way I feel, the heart has been taken out of Steveston."

Simm said she's long felt she was "too right for the left and too left for the right," but feels with the recent departure of incumbents from the non-partisans, there's a chance for fresh ideas.

Due to the low level of interest, the slate did not have a nomination meeting this time, and have so far only advanced three candidates for nine positions on council. Simm will be joined by Don Dunfee and Maria Dagg. Incumbent Donna Sargent will seek re-election to Richmond School Board, and will be joined by Allan Pun, who ran for council in the October 2000 byelection under the Richmond Independent Civic Electors slate.

Sargent said she's thankful for the strong support she's received from the volunteers involved in the RNPA during her time on the school boardbut also the freedom to follow her conscience.

Coun. Kiichi Kumagai, one of three councillors who bolted from the RNPA earlier this year to run with Richmond First Voters, said he's never seen them run so few candidates.

"They are probably trying to restructure after the devastation of the byelection," said Kumagai, in reference to an election in which only one of four RNPA candidates, Coun. Rob Howard, who since left, was elected. (Coun. Bill McNulty also left the slate.)

The RNPA noted, however, there may be other candidates coming forward.

Kumagai said he was surprised to hear Simm's name on the slate. "Anybody that runs has to make sacrifices, but why she would go with the NPA is beyond me."

Dunfee said the incumbents' departures has created an opportunity to offer voters a greater chance for "positive change."

Raves not for kids: police
Drugs not hard to find at all-night events

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Raves and drugs are synonymous and parents should know it.

That was the message from Richmond RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen who was discussing the aftermath of last weekend's rave at Riverside Banquet Hall.

The crowd was younger than usual, Thiessen said, and there were two people arrested for possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and trafficking in a controlled substance.

One male raver was taken to Richmond Hospital suffering from an overdose. An update on his condition wasn't known.

"Parents of young adults need to be aware of what's going on at these raves," Thiessen said. "It's not the best of places to allow children to be attending."

"There's lot of things available to young adults and that's what we're concerned about."

Bobby Ghirra, who runs the banquet hall, said this is the first rave at his venue for months and he's received no complaints about noise or anything else.

"Our main issue is providing a safe venue and to make sure all the procedures are in place in regard to the rave bylaw."

"We can't tell kids where to go and not to go. That's a parents responsibility."

As part of the bylaw, the police are brought in to keep the drug problem in check, he said.

But drugs are available everywhere, including at other venues such as nightclubs, he noted.

"I'm a landlord providing a safe venue."

Local helps raise $50,000 for Parkinsons

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Richmond's Jessica Cullis helped raise more than $50,000 for Parkinson's Disease research this summer by driving a support vehicle some 6,500 kilometres.

Cullis followed as her fellow University of B.C. students James Wells, Jon Kenny and Stan Gibbs rode their bikes from UBC to Halifax beginning on June 3 and returned 51 days later on July 23.

Cullis' father Frank, a retired local school teacher, and her aunt Diana, a local CUPE worker, both have the debilitating neurological disorder and that drew her to the cause.

"It's pretty important to me personally," said Cullis, who drove between 10 and 15 kilometres per hour for the duration of the trip if she wasn't buying groceries or scouting the terrain ahead.

The group, who cycled for eight hours per day, had a fairly modest goal of raising $6,500 but those numbers have been blown out of the water.

To contribute to Ride Across Canada for Parkinson's, call 1-800-565-3000, or check out the web site at

Re-inventing Aberdeen Centre
$100 million project to include Science World exhibits

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

He did the unthinkable by tearing down a profitable mall that was only 12 years old.

But Fairchild Group chief executive officer Thomas Fung is betting his own money that the new $100 million Aberdeen Centre, to open in November of 2003, will deliver what the original couldn't: a mall popular to both mainstream and Asian shoppers.

"We will definitely be a one-stop shopping mall at least for the Asian community but at the same time it makes sense...if we can reach out to the market at large including the non-Asian markets," Fung told The Richmond Review Friday.

While other nearby Asian-themed strata-title malls are plagued by problems resulting from bickering owners with differing agendas and clashing business philosophies, Aberdeen Centre's 250-plus stores will be leased and managed by Fairchild. That's already proven to be an attractive prospect for newly signed-up tenantssome of whom had been involved in struggling strata-title venturesbecause the success of the mall will now be a shared responsibility of the tenants and mall management. New stricter rules will also eliminate the problems that plagued the original mall, such as the public uproar resulting from the mall's store signs being predominantly in Chinese.

Fung said his massive project will be a destination-style themed mall that promises to include things Lower Mainland shoppers haven't seen before.

In the first deal of its kind, Science World is partnering with Aberdeen Centre to provide up to 10 exhibits sprinkled throughout the expansive three-storey facility, at the corner of Hazelbridge Way and Cambie Road. The deal will also see Science World's popular and award-winning centre stage show replicated inside the mall, along with a new science and technology-themed educational centre as part of pilot project with the Richmond School District.

"We'll be taking what we do in Science World into Richmond," Science World communication director Brad Foster said. "This will give a tremendous boost to educators in Richmond."

So why did Fung tear down the successful Aberdeen Centre?

A bigger and better looking mall can demand higher rental rates and bring in more shoppers, he explained.

While Aberdeen Centre garnered international attention for its uniqueness in 1989, it has since become one among many Asian malls in the neighbourhood. Over the years, competitors have slowly siphoned business away.

So five years ago, Fung mulled over two options: selling the place or starting again from scratch.

"If we don't make a move, we're only one of the many identical (Asian malls)," Fung said he thought at the time.

The new 280,000-square-foot mall, Fung said, will succeed where other Lower Mainland projects have failed.

To ensure it's a success, Fung hasn't cut any corners. The glass-enclosed mall has been designed by Vancouver architect Bing Thom to ensure it will look great both from the outside and inside, at night and during the day. It will also feature world-class entertainment, he said. He plans to regularly bring in world-class performers, such as singers and musicians, along with Olympic athletes.

The main atrium will feature a musical fountain, a miniature version of the popular one found at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Another Las Vegas-inspired design feature will be on the atrium's domed ceiling, which will have an ever-changing sky also seen at Caesar Palace's forum and a special effects light show.

The third-floor food court will cater to all tastes and there will also be an outdoor-indoor market similar to the Granville Island Market, Fung said.

Looking to draw the world's best tenants, Fung will be flying next month to seven different countries in Europe, Asia and North America, in hopes of bringing in stores that aren't found anywhere else in Western Canada.

Prospero International Realty's Derek Lee, a broker, developer and property manager, said Fung's strong business reputation will go a long way in determining Aberdeen Centre's fate.

"You know that he's going to be behind it and that means a lot. He will make it a success, somehow, someway."

But Lee said Fung is taking a sizable risk with his theme-style mall. Other theme-style restaurants, such as Planet Hollywood, hoped to draw crowds with their memorabilia, but couldn't cut the competitive market.

"I'd say it's unproven. I think it could work but it's an expensive risk."

Lee said shopping centres in general, no matter how successful, can't rest on their laurels and need to continuously improve their tenants and update their design. In that respect Fung chose to be very proactive by tearing down the original 120,000-square-foot mall.

A good example of a mall that draws both Asian and mainstream shoppers is Metrotown Centre in Burnaby, which has just the right tenant mix, he said. But Aberdeen Centre's anchor tenants will be the key because traditionally they draw the most customers to a mall, Lee said.

Fung will use his other impressive assets to promote Aberdeen Centre into a prominent if not prosperous position. He owns two national television stations, five radio stations and the largest circulation Chinese monthly magazine in Canada, which will help to keep Aberdeen Centre faithful to its original customers who made it a success.

But unlike with the original mall, where promotions on television and in newspapers targetted Asian shoppers almost exclusively, Fung will now diversify and is negotiating with mainstream media to connect with the wider audience.

Fung is also eyeing the tourist sector and hopes to bring in Japan's junior sumo wrestlers, who are about 10 years old and are a huge hit wherever they go. He's also negotiating to bring in a world-class robotic competition, where cutting-edge robots play soccer independently in a display of a company's technology.

At the end of the day, only time will tell if Aberdeen Centre follows in the footsteps of successful malls such as Richmond Centre or stumbles to become a white elephant like BridgePoint Market.

Fung said Aberdeen Centre will be something he's proud of if it manages to reach out to the greater community in Richmond and the rest of the Lower Mainland.

$13M suit against doc fails

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled a local doctor wasn't liable for missing a Richmond man's appendicitis eight years ago.

Laurence Segal, 36, went to Richmond Hospital's emergency department in 1994 complaining of abdominal pain.

Although a surgeon who initially examined Segal made a provisional diagnosis of appendicitis, another doctor, Dr. Michael Frimer, who later examined him made a different diagnosis and released Segal from hospital after three days of observation and testing.

One day later, Segal drove himself to hospital again because of the continued pain he was suffering. But again, after seeing another doctor, Segal was released a day later.

More than two weeks after he first went to the hospital, Segal's condition worsened to the point he needed surgery, where the surgeon discovered a perforated appendix.

Segal sued Dr. Frimer for $13 million in damages "as a result of the physically examine and properly diagnose the plaintiff with appendicitis."

But B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice J. R. Dillon ruled that Dr. Frimer exercised reasonable care in Segal's diagnosis.

"It is indeed unfortunate that Mr. Segal's symptoms were not clearer in the early stages of his appendicitis. However, this misfortune cannot be laid upon Dr. Frimer..."

Madam Justice Dillon concluded that Segal failed to prove that Dr. Frimer was negligent in failing to diagnose the appendicitis.

"In the circumstances that existed...the true physical condition of Mr. Segal was not so firmly apparent that appendicitis could have been recognized by the exercise of reasonable care and skill. The other alternatives considered by Dr. Frimer were all reasonable and there is no suggestion that he did not follow up those alternatives carefully."

Payouts to city staff exceeded $1 million in 2001

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Richmond's departing chief administrative officer received a payout of $70,131 when he left for a new job in London, Ontario last month.

This payment was made to George Duncan for all vacation and banked overtime he had not taken, said Jim Bruce, general manager of finance and corporate services.

Duncan also topped the list in 2001 for money received in lieu of time off.

In addition to his regular salary of $157,557, he received an additional $66,439 in payout in 2001.

"Cashing in" by city staff, rather than taking the time off, accounted for $1,168,779 last year. The total payout in 2000 it was $1,079,258.

Forensic accountant Brian Gardiner says work demands often make it difficult for some employees to use all the time owing, and paying the employees off can often have the best results.

Replacement staff usually doesn't have the same expertise as existing staff, he said.

"I'd be better off to pay him and have him do premium work then have to train additional staff," Gardiner said.

Bruce said the large payouts reflect the heavier workloads many staff face.

"The work has increased and we haven't increased our staff complement by all that much," Bruce said.

Following George Duncan on the payout list was Chuck Gale, general manager of community safety, who got $57,128 in 2001. Parks director Dave Semple was third with $42,149. Duncan had no payouts in 2000.

Conferences account for bulk of senior staff spending

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Expenses for the City of Richmond's seven senior managers totalled $54,285 in the year 2001, according to information obtained by The Richmond Review.

Airfare, accommodation and conference fees accounted for the majority of these expenses for former chief administrative officer George Duncan, who left for a new job last month, and the city's six general managers.

Jim Bruce, general manager of finance and corporate services, topped the expense list with $15,258.91 in 2001, followed closely by Duncan with $14.704.23.

By comparison, their counterparts in Surrey spent, respectively, $12,130 and $20,257 in 2001.

Bruce spent $3,132 on a human resources-focused conference titled "Delivering with Attitude" in Scottsdale, Arizona. His stay at the Scottsdale Marriott totalled nine days and, with meals and phone included, cost $3,080.

Bruce said he attended the conference because, at the time, the city's human resources department reported to him. Human resources manager Mike Kirk also attended and, due to disruption of travel by the events of Sept. 11, both remained about four days longer in Arizona than intended.

"Anyone who was in the States...there was just not a possibility of getting out of there," Bruce told The Richmond Review.

Duncan was the most active traveller of the senior managers, attending conferences in Banff and Las Vegas, and several meetings in Victoria and Whistler. While attending a conference of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, he spent three nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs for $351 a night. For another conference, he went to Vegas on a package deal through now-defunct Canada 3000, costing $1,258 for airfare and three nights accommodation at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Chuck Gale, general manager of community safety, spent $12,651 in 2001, and also stayed at the Banff Springs for five nights at $361 a night.

Near the bottom end of expenses was David McLellan, general manager of urban development, who spent $5,001. His counterpart in Surrey spent $9,740. The bulk of McLellan's spending was for seven days in New Orleans for a conference of the American Planning Association. The stay at the Hilton Riverside Hotel cost $363 a night.

Jeff Day, general manager of engineering and public works, spent $6,025 in 2001.

Of this, $3,952 went towards travel and seven nights accommodation in Philadelphia, where he attended the International Public Works Congress and Exposition.

Day said conferences play an important role, providing Richmond's administrators with new knowledge and technology that help the city run more efficiently and cost-effectively.

"It's a chance for us to get together with our counterparts who are trying to do the same thing across North America," Day said.

Cathy Volkering Carlile, who took over the job of general manager of parks and recreation mid-year, spent only $643 in 2001.

Flights for all senior staff ranged in price from $593 to $1,685 and, in the majority of cases, the expense receipt indicated they flew economy.

Breathing easier
Local hyperbaric chamber service draws customers from U.S.

Philip Raphael , Staff Reporter

In a reversal of fortunes, Americans are flocking to a Richmond-based health treatment centre for some affordable, and readily available care for ailments ranging from severe migraines to more life-threatening conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Roughly one-third of the clients passing through the doors of the Richmond Hyperbaric Health Centre for hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions are from south of the border. And to them it's a good deal, thanks in part to the favourable exchange rate, said Florence Woo, the centre's president.

"We have a lot of people coming up here from Washington State because they say it's a lot cheaper here in Canada, although we have fewer chambers than they do down there," Woo explained.

What also attracts a good many of her clients is the way chamber sessions are timed in the U.S., compared to Canadian treatment sessions, she added.

"There are about 300 centres in the states, a lot of them privately owned and operated by doctors. But the average rate is $100 US per hour, and the average session takes more than an hour."

Treatments in the United States can run as high as $200 US per session.

"And we charge $100 (CDN) per session, regardless how long the session lasts," Woo said.

Woo said most of her clients pay for the treatments out of their own pockets since the service is not covered by provincial medical health plans. Others fund-raise, as in the case of a group of patients who travelled from Manitoba when the facility opened three years ago.

"Some of our clients are referred to us by doctors, but most have got information about us by word of mouth," Woo said.

Testament to that fact is the willingness of Manitobans, where there are currently no hyperbaric oxygen therapy facilities, to make the trip west.

About 40 per cent of the centre's clients are from Manitoba.

"The reason we get so many from Manitoba is that the first group of clients we treated were from there. And when they went back home, word just spread," Woo said.

"About 30 per cent of our other clients are from the states, and 30 per cent from here (Lower Mainland)."

While not new in practice, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has proven to be not only effective in treating a variety of conditions, it can also reduce a patients's dependency on drug therapy and its inherent, negative side effects.

At Richmond Hyperbaric Health Centre, clients enter a chamber equipped to hold six people where the air pressure is increased to help raise the amount of oxygen delivered to the body by up to 15 times that of normal conditions.

Patients don special hoods to breathe the pure oxygen.

Under normal air pressure, people breathe in roughly 21 per cent oxygen.

When the chamber is used, that increases to 100 per cent.

The increased oxygen, higher pressure environment allows the body's cells to recover from any oxygen debt and stimulates them to speed up the natural healing process.

And depending on the injury or ailment, the air pressure is increased to allow the oxygen to permeate further into the body's tissues.

"Let's say there was an injury to the brain, or a muscle tissue injury, you would need a higher pressure to get the oxygen to the area that needs it," said Woo, who first used hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat nagging bouts of migraine headaches several years ago.

"When I saw what the machine could do, I was impressed," said Woo. "My father died of a heart attack and had cancer. Plus I have friends of my family who have Parkinson's disease.

"And when I heard that in Prague (Czech Republic) they were using oxygen not only to treat a variety of conditions, but as a preventative measure and for health maintenance, I thought this would be a good service to offer people."

One patient currently undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy is Richmond's Larry Moss, 39, who has suffered the debilitating effects of Crohn's disease for much of his life.

"It has really helped with the speed of the healing process," said Moss, who hopes this type of alternate treatment will one day become more mainstream. "The medical system has to change and not be fighting all these other methods and see what is really best for all these sick people out there. Maybe there's more than one way to treat people."

Plus, one of the added bonuses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the perceived cosmetic benefit.

"My wife has even told me that I look younger," Moss said.

The number of hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments can vary, depending on a patient's condition, Woo said.

"We are treating several cases of epilepsy, and we are seeing improvements right after a few sessions."

For slow-healing wounds, like those afflicting diabetics who have poor circulation in their extremities, once the injured site is fully healed, no more treatments are needed. In more serious cases as many as 40 treatments can be required.

"Some youngsters do fine after about 20 sessions, then come back after a month or so for another 10 or 20 sessions. And you see improvement every time," Woo explained.

"But then they take a break, and parents will know when to give the child another boost."

Studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions are more effective in treating younger patients, and many who have conditions including autism are turning towards the therapy.

Business Notes

Richmond Hyperbaric Health Centre

#4-12180 Horseshoe Way

Tel.: 604-277-8608

Est.: October 1999

Web site:

Miyoshi meant to invoke unique responses
Baco Ohama's new project started with a dream -- literally

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

It could be blood stain, or perhaps the red circle is meant to represent the rising sun on the Japanese flag.

But Baco Ohama's installation art piece MIYOSHI a taste that lingers unfinished in the mouth (the Pool) at the Richmond Art Gallery is meant to evoke an unique response in every viewer.

"I'm trying always to leave enough room, so that when someone else comes to it, there's enough room for their own story in the work," says Ohama, whose twin exhibitions, MIYOSHI and Furoshiki Project, open tonight.

Furoshiki are carrying cloths, used to carry everything from gifts, food, or personal belongings. Ohama has laid several on the floor of the gallery. Each is two layers of white and red silkthe colours found on both Canada's and Japan's flagand each is silk-screened with poetry, prose or fragments of speech.

"Aside from carrying just objects...I'm using it metaphorically as a way of dealing with portability...travelling from place to place physically, but also historically and experientially," Ohama says.

In MIYOSHI, located at the back of the gallery, the taste that "lingers unfinished" could well be the foul taste left in the mouths of many Richmond Japanese-Canadians after their property was confiscated and they were moved to internment camps during the Second World War.

MIYOSHI is a perfect red circle, about four metres across, formed by 1,337 individual clay sculptures. Each is an adaptation of the maneki neko (good luck cat), a popular icon in Japanese culture. Ohama fashioned each one from clay and coated it with a brilliant red velour-type coatinga process that took the better part of three years.

"It's important for me to give it that time," says Ohama, whose grandparents' home, Murakami House, has now been restored at Britannia Heritage Shipyard.

"If I'm going to do a one-liner, that's all that's going to come out of the work."

Her project MIYOSHI started with a dream. Literally.

Ohama said she is a vivid dreamer, but her dreams are usually dominated by visual images, not words.

But suddenly one night the word "miyoshi" popped up and she didn't have any idea what it meant.

"I didn't know it, but it sure sounded Japanese to me," she says.

She began researching the origins of the word and discovered one literal meaning was "the bow of a boat."

Each neko, or cat, is placed in a boat and has a fist raised up in the air. The number of boats1,337corresponds with the number of boats confiscated from Japanese families at Annieville during the war.

Ohama calls the cats gambori neko, the word gambori translating only roughly as something like persistent or stubborn, Ohama says. Each cat has a different expression, she says.

"Some are singing, some are crying, some are whispering."

There is some acknowledgement in the work of the injustice of what the Japanese residents were subjected to, Ohama says, but "it's not about anger."

"The legacy is not that simple," she says. "People are complex, feelings are complex, situations are complex...

"There's still, I'm sure, lots of tensions here. There also may be a desire for certain things not to be said, because things will be smoother."

The solo exhibition runs until Oct. 24 at the Richmond Art Gallery, located at 7700 Minoru Gate.

Pianist Robert Silverman to open Distinguished Artists Series

Noted pianist Robert Silverman will perform in concert Saturday, Sept. 28 at Gateway Theatre as the first concert of this season's Richmond Concert Association Distinguished Artists Series.

Silverman has played in concert halls throughout North America, Europe, the Far East and Australia, with conductors such as John Eliot Gardiner, Gerard Schwarz, Sergiu Comissiona and the late Kiril Kondrashin.

The Borealis String Quartet will also perform and will share the stage with Silverman as they do Schumann's "Piano Quintet in E flat."

Silverman recently was the recipient of a career achievement award for keyboard artistry from the Ontario Arts Council, in recognition of his "high level of artistry, his moving interpretations of a wide range of music...and his commitment and contribution to music in Canada."

His discography is extensive, and includes 25 CDs and a dozen LPs. His recording of Liszt's piano music received a Grand Prix du Disque from the Liszt Society of Budapest, while his 10-CD recording of all 32 Beethoven sonatas was nominated for a Juno Award.

Both Silverman and Borealis hail from the University of B.C., where Silverman is a faculty member.

Borealis consists of four young Canadian professionals, including Patricia Shih and Yuel Yawney (violin), Nikita Pogrebnoy (viola) and Joel Stobbe (cello). All four are accomplished soloists as well as ensemble performers, having performed with various orchestras across the globe before coming together two years ago.

Since that time, Borealis has been featured in broadcasts on the CBC and Radio-Canada and recently embarked on a 32 concert tour of B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

The Distinguished Artists Series is sponsored by the Richmond Concert Association, which aims to to bring high-calibre, professional performers to Richmond audiences.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Gateway Theatre is located at 6500 Gilbert Rd.

Tickets are $22 and $18, with a student group rate of $10 for 10 or more.Call 604-270-1812 for ticket information.

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