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Three elementary schools to be closed, Incentive Program will be moved

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Jodi-Ann Robinson is a person of few words. She prefers to let her actions do the talking.

And when it comes to her proficiency in soccer her play speaks volumes.

Just 13, the Richmond resident has already been recognized by the Canadian Soccer Association as one of the top young players in its development program.

"She's a great prospect," said Ian Bridge, coach of Canada's Under-19 women's team.

Robinson wowed Bridge and others with her play at a national training centre scouting weekend in Port Moody about a month ago.

"She came on midway through the game and immediately made an impact," Bridge said. "She's a big, strong kid and when she first came on I thought maybe she was about 16 but when I found she was only 13 it really impressed me. She's very determined and did some things in a short time that caused defenders a lot of problems."

Robinson obviously has some natural athleticism, he said, noting some of the skills she already demonstrates many players are never able to do even after years of coaching.

"My advice to her is just keep doing what she's doing," Bridge said. "She just needs to keep playing lots of soccer."

Ironically, Robinson only began playing organized soccer three years ago. After an inaugural season of house league play she joined the Metro Division Richmond Vipers as a 12 year old. And although she's a year younger than most of her colleagues in the Under-14 league she appears anything but out of place.

Vipers' coach Kevin Greig said she's not only adept at challenging players one-on-one but distributes the ball well to her teammates. But what Greig admires as much as anything is Robinson's attitude.

"She's quite a quiet girl but very level-headed and the consummate team player," he said. "For a lot (this kind of success) would got their heads but not her."

Robinson's strong work ethic is an integral reason for the team's success this season, as the Vipers (who finished the regular season in fourth place after going 6-1-5 since the beginning of December) gear up for what appears to be a promising playoff run. The provincials begin at the end of March, although the Vipers still don't know who or where they'll be playing. The Vipers placed third at last year's B.C. championships."It was a bit of learning curve when she first joined the team but she really wants to succeed and has a ball on her foot all the time," Greig said. "Who knows what the limit is for her. She has tremendous drive besides natural athleticism."Robinson is from a family of athletes. Older brother Errol, 19, inspired her to take up soccer and still plays the game at a recreation level. And her sister Tonia, 16, is a talented basketball player at R.C. Palmer Secondary. Jodi-Ann also plays a little hoops and was a sprinter with the Richmond Kajaks Track and Field Club last year. But her focus is on soccer.She dreams of playing for Canada's national women's soccer team one day. And while she doesn't expect to realize her goal overnight, she's determined to make it happen."It doesn't come easy, but I want to be a player," she said. "I practice a lot on my own, every day for at least 40 minutes."Robinson began training at the Total Soccer Systems academy at Sportstown in the fall of 2001. The following spring she was selected to play provincially for the B.C. Under-14 all-stars even though she was a year younger than the other participants. As a provincial player, she also began training at The B.C. Soccer Academy in Burnaby once a week where she was identified as a potential future national team player.Total Soccer Systems coordinator Colin Elms, who himself was an elite prospect as a youth player in B.C. during the 1980s, was immediately impressed by Robinson."When she first came to a summer session two years ago you could see instantly that with reasonable direction she would be a real problem for the opposition," he said. "She still has tons to learn, but there are moments when she's completely unstoppable."It's kind of uncanny how good she already is, said Elms, who compares her to national team veteran Charmaine Hooper who has played more than 90 caps for Canada. "She has that same sort of ability to impose herself on the game."Palmer principal Jim Allison, who played professional hockey in Europe in the 1980s before pursuing a career in education, also believes Robinson has a bright future in sport."Her physical skills are phenomenal; well beyond her years," he said. "And she's a really likeable kid too."

RCMP inspector says it's important to be a mentor

Janice Armstrong this year's keynote speaker at the Ethel Tibbits Awards

Don Fennell, Staff Reporter

Growing up in New Brunswick, Insp. Janice Armstrong knew she wanted to be a police officer.

Armstrong was the keynote speaker at The Richmond Review's 10th annual Ethel Tibbits Women of the Year Awards held at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel Tuesday.

Recently commissioned to her current role as the assistant operations officer, Lower Mainland District E Division of the RCMP, she has been a member of the force for nearly 17 years all of which has been spent in B.C. including four years in Hope and 12 in Surrey.

Her career has been varied and interesting, she said. It's included working in general duty, sex crimes, burglary, homicide and media all of which have helped her develop a myriad of abilities including communication skills which are vital to defusing conflicts.

Armstrong credited Beverly Busson, deputy commissioner of the RCMP's Pacific Region, as being a personal inspiration.

"She's an icebreaker for women in policing," Armstrong said.

Busson was originally to be Tuesday's keynote speaker, but was called away for an International Olympic Committee meeting.

Armstrong recounted a situation she encountered early in her career in Hope. The only officer on duty one evening, she responded to a call to help break up a fight at a local hotel. A large man, who was intoxicated, was involved in the fight and Armstrong had to think quickly on her feet.

"What would that prove, so you beat up a girl?" she told him.

"I used that quite a bit," she said. "As police officers we have to use our communication skills or other abilities to defuse situations."

Armstrong said she also found it important as a police officer to get involved in the community. She participated in many activities, even trying to curlonce, she said.

Armstrong said she has always tried to have a positive attitude because it's contagious. At the same time she's always expected a lot from herself. She told the audience that you can't expect to command great things from others unless you demand them from yourself. And she said never doubt that a small group of people can change the world because indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

Building nip-and-tuck raises heritage concern

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

To some it may just seem a little nip-and-tuck, but the recent renovations to a Steveston shop front have stirred concern among heritage advocates.

Last month, a front window on the building was replaced with a garage door and an awning was added.

"Individually it's not all that bad," said Graham Turnbull, who sits on the city's heritage commission. "But if we're going to try to protect the ambience, if every store owner put a garage door out front, it'd be a hell of a place."

The building is located at 3891 Moncton in the heart of Steveston Village, and was the Phoenix Coastal Art until January, when the lease was not renewed.

Owner Ray Martiniuk's family has owned the building since the 1920s, and his grandfather ran a barber shop there for many years. Martiniuk plans to turn it into an antiques and collectibles shop called Function Junction.

But he failed to apply for a building permit before changing the building's facade.

"We're expecting him to come in shortly to make that application," said building inspections supervisor Larry Johnson, who didn't anticipate any problems from his department.

The application will be forwarded to the city's heritage planner for comment. Although the building is on the city's heritage inventory, "there's not a lot of control over something like this in the way of regulations right now," said David Brownlee, a Steveston area planner.

However, he said, if the project is more than $15,000 in value (something he'll determine when the application is filed) it requires a development permitmeaning the changes would be referred to an advisory design panel for comment.

Turnbull said several years ago, there was a push to establish Steveston as a heritage conservation area. He said "experts" said the city's approval process would ensure the protection of Steveston's historic appearance. Now he's got his doubts about the strength of the city's guidelines.

"I'm interested to see what teeth it's got," Turnbull said.

Martiniuk said he's more than willing to discuss the project.

"I'm certainly interested in heritage and that shows. It's not like I want to go against the theme of the town."

Remembership Big Rich

Friends mourn death of popular Steveston mechanic

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Ben Yoshida and Rich Jarvis could spend three hours working on the same car without exchanging a word.

After 32 years of fixing cars at Steveston's Marine Garage, they could complete a job in silence, each knowing exactly what the other was doing, and that it would be done right.

But since "Big Rich" was found last Thursday morning on his bathroom floor, dead of a heart attack, Ben now feels lost.

"You can't replace that, what we had," Yoshida said Tuesday. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I haven't made any decisions yet. I can't believe he's gone."

Rich and Ben co-owned the garage, located at 3611 Moncton, since 1986.

When Ben left the shop last Wednesday afternoon, Rich was scrubbing the oil pan of his silver Alfa Romeo. It's one of several cars Rich owned and loved to work onpart of a passion that started with hot rods while at Steveston High. Later, his tastes "matured" to a love of Italian cars such as the Alfas.

"That's how we got to know each other," said Adrian Ratcliff, long-time friend and fellow car enthusiast.

On Tuesday, Adrian was at the shop doing the oil pan work Rich left unfinished. Tools and various nuts and bolts lay scattered across the metal separating the hood and the windshield. A mechanic's light rested against the gleaming metal of the engine, as though Rich had just ambled across Moncton in his overalls to get a pack of Players plain from Duffin's Donuts Mini Mart.

Unlike most auto shops, Marine Garage is often as busy as a popular cafŽ. People come in the morning for a chat and coffee. After work, many joined Rich for a Crown Royale and maybe some pickled salmon.

This Tuesday morning, those gathered still appeared stunned with the shock that a gentle bear of a man was gone, only 56 years old.

At the time of his death, he was still living with his mother, Heidy, at the edge of Terra Nova, in the house he'd lived in all his life.

Rich started his mechanic career shortly after high school. He apprenticed for a few years at the No. 1 and Granville Chevron, since closed, run by Nobby Sakamoto. In 1971, he joined Ben at Marine Garage, working for Ed Katai, Roy Okomoto and Goro Omatani.

In 1986, the owners decided to retire and offered Ben and Rich the business.

Ben thought it was a good time to clarify something that had been nagging him about his friend, who never married, before he signed on.

"Cars were his passion," Ben said. "Women weren't. I don't know. I'm sure he would have told me if he got a piece somewhere."

In fact, when they considered becoming business partners in 1986, Ben wanted to set things straight before the deal was signed.

"I said `Are you queer?'" Ben said, laughing at the memory. "I'd never seen him so angry. That was the only time we almost came to blows."

Friends clearly ranked in the same category as his love of cars. He'd do anything for them, it seemed. A lot of his nights would be spent in the shop working on friends' cars. In his wallet he had a slip of paper with names scribbled on itall the people who owed him money.

"If you sat at the table, he always bought a round first," said Cory Ingram.

Ben once wanted to fire a part-time mechanic who couldn't bother to show up at work on time, but Rich wouldn't have anything of it.

"Rich went every morning and woke him up," Ben said. "That was the kind of guy he was."

"Everybody felt he was their special friend," said Adrian. "He was quiet and retiring but he made you feel at ease."

With Rich gone, the Marine Garage's future is uncertain. Ben said they'd planned to both retire in a few years, but now he doesn't know what he'll do. It's hard to imagine the business without Rich, and he can't stomach hiring a new mechanic.

After 32 years working together, they'd built a rapport where "the car goes out and we hadn't even said anything.

"You can't just hire somebody to replace that."

A service was held today at Gilmore Park United Church.

Tax increase approved

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Remove police and fire costs from the city's budget, and its growth is pretty close to the cost of living.

Factor in those costs, however, and their contribution to this year's 4.35 per cent property tax increase comes clear.

"They have increased at a rate in excess of the rest of the city," said Coun. Rob Howard. The cost of city operations will increase 1.71 per cent in 2003, below the consumer price index, while police and fire will increase 7.17 per cent.

The proposed tax increase falls slightly short of the projection in the city's five year plan (4.23). But its less than the tax increases in 2002 (4.48) and 2001 (4.84).

Other than emergency services, significant cost increases resulted from about $7 million worth of downloading from the province over the last three years, Howard said.

One per cent of the increase, or $1 million, will go to a reserve fund for replacing the city's aging firehalls. Council this year established the replenishment of reserves as one of its main priorities.

It also set up a long-term financial strategy so council can "understand the impacts of daily decisions on the long term health of the city," Howard said.

"It sets up a control or monitoring mechanism."

The tax increase, about $40 more for the average homeowner, is necessary to maintain existing services, he added.

"Our taxes rates, on average, are in the bottom half of the region. And the services we offer are probably in the very top. That said, I certainly have no interest in continuing to roll out four and five per cent increases."

Last year's projections put the next three year's increases between 4.5 and five per cent. These numbers will be revised for the new five year plan, which requires final approval with the budget bylaw by May 15. "They may tinker with it a little bit," said city treasurer Jim Bruce, but it won't likely change much.

$5-million courthouse opens

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

The new Richmond Provincial Courthouse opened to the public for the first time Monday.

The $5-million facility, located at 7577 Elmbridge Way, just west of Minoru Boulevard, boasts seven courtrooms, in addition to several conference rooms and large common areas. It is a significant improvement over the old courthouse, adjacent to the RCMP detachment at Minoru and Granville, which had only two criminal courtrooms and a traffic courtroom.

The Attorney General's communications department refused to release details about the new facility.

Administrative Crown counsel Grant Wong said Monday he liked the new facility, which houses not only criminal and traffic court, but also family, youth and small claims court.

The space that now sits empty with the departure of the courthouse will be used by the Richmond RCMP once renovation work has been completed.

8 hands, 4 pianos, 1 concerto

Timing is everything as Richmond Music School performs its biggest concert of the year this Saturday

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Like actors awaiting their cue, 12 pianists will rely on perfect timing Saturday night as they perform Bach's "Concerto for Four Pianos."

"They're throwing the ball from one to another," says Patricia Rolston, principal of Richmond Music School, which is hosting its fourth annual Concerto Concert.

"It's teamwork."

And a heck of a lot of counting. The score consists of three movements, with four pianists per movement who participate in the 12-minute piece Rolston describes as "sprightly."

Sometimes, the pianists play as a quartet. At other points two or three are playing and at others, they alternate solos like relay runners passing the baton.

"They've got to count like crazy, otherwise they might miss their cue to come in," Rolston says.

The four pianos are supported by a 14-piece professional concerto orchestra hired specifically for the event.

More than 60 of the local music school's 375 students are participating in its biggest concert of the year. The program includes a 30-voice choir and an ensemble of 20 violins, who will perform Vivaldi's "Concerto in A Minor."

"Instead of one soloist, we've got 20," Rolston says.

Another highlight of the evening will be Chopin's "Concerto No. 2 in F Minor," performed by two 21-year-old students playing a movement each.

They are among the oldest students in the school, which provides one-on-one music education for musicians from the age of 5 to 21.

"We hope to show what can be done from an early age right up to 21," says Rolston.

Preparing for the upcoming concert, there's been a steady buzz of excitement among the students at the school. Rolston says it "can be lonely, practising by yourself," and events like this reinforce one of the important roles of music: connection.

"There's a great social life that comes out of this," she says.

"Yesterday it sounded so wonderful, so we just hope it sounds as good on Saturday."

For tickets call 604-272-5227. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m., and the school's recital hall is located at 11371 No. 3 Rd.

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Saluting the women of Richmond

In recognition of Ethel Tibbits' pursuit of truth and justice, The Richmond Review annually honours Richmond's Women of the Year in categories of sports, arts, community service, business and this year, for the first time, youth.

The awards were founded 10 years ago by Review staff and are named after Ethel Caswell Tibbits, who guided The Richmond Review through its first 15 years.

Under her direction, the paper grew both in prominence and in size, becoming a forum and a leader for the growing community it served.

Tibbits, author, newspaper woman, humanitarian and community leader, died on July 20, 1960 at the age of 70. But her memory lives on with the annual awards.

This year's winners were announced at Tuesday's luncheon at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel.

For the 10th year, the category of youth was added.

"Richmond's youth are our greatest asset, and their contributions to making the city a better place to live are equally deserving of recognition, and are a sign of inspirational things to come," Richmond Review publisher Lois Hourston said.

Insp. Janice Armstrong of Surrey RCMP was this year's keynote speaker.

Proceeds from the Ethel Tibbits Awards raise money for Nova House, a transition home for women and their children. Nova House is run through Chimo Crisis Services.

Last year's event raised $6,016.28 and in 2001, $5,965.91 was raised. While the final numbers for this year's event have not been tallied yet, draws from Tuesday's event raised $1,000 alone.

Chimo is looking to raise $50,000 to furnish and equip a new 10-bed facility for women and children fleeing violence at home, set to open this summer.

For information on the campaign, call 604-279-7077.

Past winners:

1994: Eva Baker, Georgiana Evans, Arlene Lawson, Camille Noel.

1995: Jacquie Leeson, Priya Aswani, Norma Suarez-Jordan, Carol Biely

1996: Agnes Thompson, Gail Terry, Charlotte Diamond, Trish Nicholson.

1997: Trudy Morse, Janice Barnes, Frances Clark, Gayle Guest.

1998: Page Hope-Smith, Shelley Leonhardt, Lynne Bigg, Dolly Des Rochers.

1999: Audrey Coutts, Linda Shirley, Colleen Lobelsohn, Julie Halfnights.

2000: Eva Baker, Diane Dupuis, Elinor Ellis, Bonnie Beaman.

2001: Beverly Strench, Colleen Kason, Cheryl Taunton, Lin Richardson.

2002: Linda Shirley, Cynthia Chen, Cheryl Dunham, Jennifer Larsen.

Women of the World Rebel

This poem appeared in the pages of The Richmond Review in the 1940s:

(Note - Because the Editor of this sheet is a woman, she takes the liberty of giving a woman's message to her women readers; calling on them to demand a decent world into which to bring their children, orÉ!)

Curly head against my breast, tender,

warm and sweet,

Chubby hands that cling to mind,

darling dimpled feet--

You are safe within my arms, while

you're yet mine own,

Sheltered here from earth's alarms, ere

from me you've grown.

Grown? I tremble. Laddie Boy--

millions just like you

Life has cheated, tricked, betrayed--

will it so use you?

Bread lines, soup queues, hunger,

Lad--thousands these have known--

Will life offer you the same, when from

me you've flown?

Battle field, relief camp, jail--do these

wait for you?

Will an iron hand be raised 'gainst my

laddies, too?

Curly head against my breast, fierce, I

clasp you tight--

Raise defiant hand and call for Right

to conquer Might!

Dare they ask of motherhood all this


Dare they ask her sons for lust of gold

to pay this price?

Human sons in anguish born but for

human greed--

Cannon fodder, altar meet, the

profiteer to feed!

Women of the world, rebel! Take

defiant stand--

Jobless world? Then sonless homes!

War?--then heartsides bare?

NO MORE SONS--till men for their

security will care!

Women of the world, unite! Take a

righteous stand

Till for you and yours they made a

safe and Christian land.

--Ethel C. Tibbits

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Business: Cindy Chan

Cindy Chan was still three months shy of graduating from university when she started Infospec Systems, a home-based software development company 18 years ago. Her goal was to provide affordable and non-proprietary PC-based software systems to small and medium-sized businesses.

Today her clients include large operations and national chains such as the Calgary Zoo, Subway, Smitty's and the Canadian Forces. And she has five offices across Canada along with a growing dealer network in North America and Asia.

InfoSpec Systems became the first company in North America to develop a dual language point of sale system to support a variety of language combinations such as English, French, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese.

In addition to running a successful business, which has been ranked among the top 100 technology companies in B.C., Chan has also been very supportive of the community and is involved in many charity functions through sponsorships and donations to the Lions Club, Richmond Hospital and crime prevention initiatives.

In accepting her award, Chan thanked one of her very first customers, Annette Kay, who she said continues to be one of her biggest supporters.

"I want to thank her for her support and encouragement both on a personal level and in the business world," she said.

The demands are high in an ever-changing business world, Chan said. She attributed Infospec Systems' success to her dedication and to three basic principles of any business: quality product, price and service.

Nominees: Lorelei Guthrie, Cindy Chan, Rufina Kraychik, Shelley Leonhardt, Devine Elden, Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, Wendy Anthony.

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Youth: Gillian Cooper

Gillian Cooper personifies what it is to be a volunteer.

A Grade 12 honour roll student at R.A. McMath Secondary, she continually contributes to the betterment of life in Richmond in a variety of ways both within her school and the community.

She's a student leader with Chimo Crisis Services and and founder of Let's Play, the sports for children with special needs program; co-founder of It's in the Bag which provides bag lunches for the homeless; and is chairperson for the Cops for Cancer Fundraiser. She also chaired leadership conferences at Lord Byng and T. Homma elementary schools, which are feeder schools to McMath.

A past recipient of the Rick Hansen Leadership Award, Cooper is also a peer tutor for academic subjects and special needs students and is a key player on the McMath Wildcats senior girls' basketball team which this week is playing at the B.C. double-A championships in Kamloops. In fact, the whole team turned out to cheer Cooper on as she received her award Tuesday.

One of her teachers at McMath has described Cooper as a student who has clearly separated herself from the mainstream and who continually inspires and challenges others to be their best.

"I'm very honoured," Cooper said in accepting the inaugural Ethel Tibbits Woman of the Year Youth Award. "I recently found out a bit about Ethel Tibbits and how much she did for the community."

Tibbits was the second publisher/editor of The Richmond Review, which began publishing in 1932.

Nominees: Gillian Cooper, Farah Kurji, Jennie Lucow, Angela Pudlas

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Community: Margaret Dixon

Margaret Dixon is retiring this year from a lifetime in education. But as those who nominated her for the Ethel Tibbits Woman of the Year Community Award noted, "her work will continue unabated."

As principal at James Gilmore Elementary, her enthusiasm and dedication have inspired many staff and students. She has worked hard to help improve her school and its involvement in the surrounding neighbourhood, her door is always open and she ensures everyone is made to feel welcome.

She is also very active in the community at large as president-elect of the Richmond Rotary Club, past-president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation and treasurer of RASA, an administrator's union. She also helped to develop a successful program for youth in her church in addition to assisting with Sunday school lessons. And as the "egg lady" she sells eggs every year in the church's fall fair at South Arm United.

"I was shocked when I got a call (last) Wednesday saying I'd been nominated for this award," she said. "I've had so many opportunities to serve since I came to Richmond in 1973. And there are so many many areas that need help."

That heartfelt message describes Dixon well: selfless and tireless in her efforts to make the community a better place for all.

Nominees: Judi Miller, Lori Bartley, Kimberley Shearer, Doris Syroid, Juliana Yung, Linda Shirley, Carol Rechert, Margaret Dixon, Betty Freeman, Brenda Mitchell.

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Arts: Margaret Dragu

Margaret Dragu is, quite literally, a busy person. She's been working as a professional artist for three decade, is a film and video artist, writer, choreographer, actor and radio broadcaster.

She's also a personal trainer and fitness instructor at community centres and care homes in Richmond, specializing in helping clients with arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart disease.

But despite her many activities Dragu never hesitates to contribute to her community. As a cultural worker she regularly serves on art juries for the Gulf of Georgia Cannery's annual art exhibition and is an active participant in the City of Richmond's art strategy and has brought energy and life to the Richmond Art Gallery with her frequent performances and projects. She also contributes to the annual Finn Slough Heritage and Wetland Society's art exhibition where she's respected by all with whom she works. She has also contributed to non-fiction anthologies on dance and feminism and contributed to some of the foremost art periodicals in Canada.

"People have been very welcoming to me," Dragu said upon receiving the Ethel Tibbits Woman of the Year Arts Award. "It's harder to show your work to those you know than overseas. And I'd like to extend a special thank you to the Richmond Art Gallery."

Nominees: Nicki Roberts, Brigid Coult, Jullin O'Scheaur, Margaret Dragu, Linda Whitney.

Ethel Tibbits Awards

Sports: Barb Mogan

Barb Mogan's term as president of the Richmond Minor Hockey Association ended two years ago. But her legacy lives on.

For over 10 years she was an active member of the association during which she held many positions including president for three terms and helped to develop several committees to establish programs to recognize coaches, volunteers, managers and others. She also served on the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association President's league advisory council and her involvement on the Richmond Arenas Community Association has led to improvements at local facilities including signage, seating, posted codes of conduct, dressing rooms and benches.

"I'm totally overwhelmed," Mogan said as she received the Ethel Tibbits Woman of the Year Arts Award. "The criteria for these awards is so high and it's a great honour for me to be considered. I'd like to thank in particular (current Richmond Minor Hockey president) Wendy Steadman for nominating me. But my volunteering at Richmond Minor was not about me giving my time because by volunteering I've grown and ended up being the winner."

She has given more to Richmond Minor Hockey than she will ever know, said Steadman, who said Mogan has been a great mentor to her since assuming the presidency of the association. "Her guidance, perseverance, compassion and sincerity have not gone unnoticed."

Her leadership has strengthened Richmond Minor Hockey and helped us make some difficult decisions that have helped improve the overall respect of the board's positions. She continues to contribute as chair of the appeal, awards and scholarship committees.

Nominees: Christy Patterson, Barb Mogan, Pat Morrison, Margaret Warwick, Lynne Kiang, Cheryl Taunton.

Ethel Tibbits was a woman of great passion

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

When Ethel Tibbits arrived in Richmond, she was in poor health. But within six years, she had evolved into a dynamo, taking the helm of a young newspaper known as The Richmond Review.

Tibbits (nee Burnett) had worked as a reporter for The Province, and came out to Richmond and married Orland Delos Tibbits on Dec. 25, 1926.

"On Christmas Day, Mr. Tibbits carried her down to the church on Blundell just east of their house; they were married and then he carried her home again," recalled Connie (Gibbard) Ezart in a 1982 letter to The Richmond Review.

In 1932, she started working at the new paper, then owned by W.R. Carruthers. Within the year, she purchased the paper and continued to write most of the content that went into it. Her husband worked as circulation manager, and they ran the business at her husband's store, Blundell Grocery, located at the corner of Railway and Blundell.

"She was an active woman," Meda Alcock, who lived kitty corner to the Tibbits, told The Review this week. Next to the store was a barn, chicken house and the house where the Tibbits lived. Tibbits was often seen in her favourite outfit: shirt, overalls and a hat.

"She was a newspaperwoman from the get-go," Alcock said. "She knew this island from the word go."

Tibbits distinguished herself as an editor to be reckoned with from her first day at the paper. The economist John Maynard Keynes once wrote that "words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking," and Tibbits took Keynes' words to heart, writing hard-hitting, intelligent and incisive editorials week after week.

It was the darkest days of the Depression, and her writings explored the daunting issues of the day. She criticized the big banks, who boasted of profits while many citizens struggled to get by. She offered insightful analysis of global trends, such as the mechanization of the workplace, and the resulting losses of labour-related jobs.

"We thought the book was a lot of fun, so we thought we'd bring it back," said managing editor Richard Janzen.

Although Tibbits received a letter in 1957 from Ryerson Press, her first publisher, to write another book, it appears she never did.

Little is known about Tibbits life after she left The Richmond Review in 1948. Her husband died at about that time and, in 1956, she married John Woolstone. The Woolstones used to travel to hospitals to entertain the sick.

She died in Richmond in 1960, and had no children. She also didn't appear to have any relatives in this part of the country.

Fifth House has encountered similar difficulties tracking down any descendants of Tibbits, and has set up a trust fund for any royalties accrued from the book's publication.

"We still have no idea who an heir might be," Janzen said.

Despite the missing pieces to the puzzle of Tibbits' history, it's clear where her passions laidshe left no doubt about that.

"I think the paper was her world," said Alcock, who worked at the paper for three years under Tibbits.

"There's no two ways about that. She had the store...she didn't care a hoot about it."

From Page B9

And she expressed her doubts, in a 1933 editorial titled "European War-Pot Bubbling Again," that England would be able to stay out of it. "It is questionable if her neighbours are to mix again in a hairpulling contest, if she can keep aloof," she wrote.

Perhaps one of her greatest achievements was a series of editorials she wrote in early 1942, criticizing proposals to intern B.C.'s Japanese residents.

"In this demand are they really considering public safety, or are they merely seizing upon this situation as an opportunity to oust from their midst a people whose presence they have long resented? Is their cry of patriotism or of prejudice?"

"I remember her being with my parents and discussing this," said Harold Steves, whose parents protested the internment.

Her editorials were conversational in tone, but her arguments and analysis were clearly thought out. She was frustrated by the status quo and, like many of her day, expressed fatigue with the "old parties," the Conservatives and Liberals.

"Their system has outlived itself," she wrote.

With the birth of the CCF in the early 1930s, she was skeptical at first, but eventually embraced the new party's (later the NDP) philosophy whole-heartedly, eventually devoting many of her editorials to the fledgling party.

When a letter writer criticized the CCF for trying to get their hands on people's money, she wrote: "Somebody, we agree, has had his hand in the pockets of Canadians for some time now. The farmers money, for example...the Canadian workers..."

Christine (Teeney) McKinney remembers Tibbits' editorials and the response they provoked in her family.

"My dad used to get so mad at her he wouldn't buy her paper," said McKinney, 98. "But he'd take it out of somebody else's mailbox."

Tibbits' hair was often messed up, sticking straight up, and she had a reputation for being a "bit queer sometimes," McKinney said. Many didn't like her, she said, but McKinney wasn't one of them.

"She was a great old girl. I liked her a lot. She'd get people riled up."

Tibbits was born in Walters Falls, Ont., but was taken West as an infant and given her early education in the rural school of Pomeroy, Manitoba, and later her parents came out to Nanton, Alberta.

Tibbits stayed at The Review until 1948, and in 1953 her book, titled On to the Sunset: The Lifetime Adventures of a Spirited Pioneer, was published. The book is her recollection of her father's life and his journey following the path of the Canadian frontier as it spread west in the 1800s. The book has been reprinted by Fifth House Publishers.

Report clears way for school closures

No basis to disagree with recommendations, superintendent says

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

There are no right and wrong answers when it comes to deciding the fate of five local schools, according to Richmond Schools superintendent Chris Kelly, who found no basis to disagree with their recommended closures.

In a report that will weigh heavily in Monday's decision expected by school trustees on whether to close five schools, Kelly wrote that he considered all of the alternatives to closure that parents offered. But aside from saying these suggestions merit consideration, Kelly said they provide no basis for him "to directly disagree with the recommended closures and relocation of students at each of the five sites in question..."

B.W. Garratt Elementary, Sidaway Elementary, Rideau Park Elementary, Alexander Kilgour Elementary are all being considered for closure to help the district deal with a declining city-wide student enrollment and continued lack of provincial funding for education that resulted in a $10 million budgetary shortfall last year, and the elimination of 188 full-time teaching positions. The District Incentive Program is also being considered for relocation from its current site on Shell Road and Steveston Highway to the new MacNeill Secondary School on No. 4 Road, scheduled to open this September.

Olwen Walker, a parent who is advocating that trustees spare Kilgour Elementary, said she wasn't surprised by the content of the superintendent's report.

"It was pretty much what I expected it to be," she said. "I would have felt better had he recommended that they don't go ahead with it (the closures). It would have been nice had he taken a stand."

Walker hopes the trustees will walk away from the report thinking that closures "are not necessarily the best solution for the situation."

Kelly wrote there are no clear-cut obvious answers and said there's no question that the immediate sense of neighbourhood will be lost for these schools.

Kelly said neither the needs of the individual, nor the needs of the whole can be considered separately from one another.

"There will be no absolutely right decision on the issue of closure," he said in the report completed this week and handed to trustees for their consideration before they make their decision at Monday night's school board meeting.

But Kelly stopped short of saying trustees have no alternative but to go ahead with the closures, noting "there are certain factors and implications the board must consider in reaching its decisions concerning these sites.

"I would therefore urge the board to consider each proposed closure, carefully and independently, on its own merits."

Kelly complemented the hard work parents, students and teachers put into presenting reports that offered alternatives to closing down the schools.

"This is a most disturbing and complex issue for any organization and its community. It has been managed with diligence, respect and civility."

He referred to the submissions made by parents and teachers at Rideau Park Elementary, and said their support for year-round schooling "is a significant point of consideration for the board."

But such a program wouldn't necessarily eliminate or even address the need to reduce the district's overhead costs.

Similarly, Kelly said the presentation made by Kilgour's parents and teachers "are appreciated and merit consideration. They do not, however, represent immediately reliable sources of ongoing reduction of overhead costs for the district." Kilgour's presentation suggested, among other things, the establishment of full-day Kindergarten classes, which could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenues every year.

Kelly said there's no question that there's a strong attachment students and their families feel to the District Incentive Program's Shell Road site. But Kelly said it "may not be concluded that the integrity and spirit of the program will be jeopardized should it be relocated."

Kelly did recommend that trustees consider an alternative to the proposal to move the incentive program to MacNeill Secondary, because "proximity to local recreational facilities and services have been identified as a factor for this program."

Al Klassen, president of the Richmond Teacher Association, said he hadn't yet read the superintendent's report when he was reached Friday afternoon.

"It's regrettable it's come to this."

School closures will result in hardships to parents, students and teachers, he said.

But residents shouldn't blame the school board. The blame belongs to the Education Ministry, which has chosen not to fund the education system sufficiently.

  • The superintendent's complete report is available on-line on The Richmond Review's web site at

Residents to give rapid response

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

The facts are in, and now it's time for Richmond to have its say.

TransLink and the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Project released the technical details of the proposed rapid transit line Friday.

Over the next month, a variety of public meetings, open houses and surveys will inform the agencies involved whether things are on the right track.

"The public needs to think about it, talk about it, go on the web," said Jane Bird of the rapid transit project office.

A Richmond-Vancouver rapid transit line has been discussed as early as 1969. Current project backers say the economics support following through with the project because 17,410 Richmond residents commute to Vancouver each day and 21,580 Vancouverites work in Richmond (2001 Census), and population in this corridor is expected to grow by more than 50 per cent over the next 20 years.

Also, the proposed route down Cambie Street includes several of the region's major employers, including Oakridge Centre and Vancouver General Hospital.

So, who will pay the $1.5-$1.7 billion estimated cost?

TransLink, the provincial government and the Vancouver International Airport Authority have agreed to contribute $900 million. No response has been received from the federal government, which has been asked to contribute $450 million.

"We know without a significant federal contribution we can't proceed," Bird said.

Other agencies involved in the project include the Vancouver Port Authority, Greater Vancouver Regional District and the cities of Vancouver and Richmond.

A private sector partner is being sought to design, build and operate the project. Though they would have a long-term operating contract of up to 35 years, TransLink would set schedules, fares and performance standards.

Ten private companies have expressed interest. The rapid transit project office will select three or four who qualify to make formal proposals.

Bird expects it to take 18 months to evaluate the bids, then the project could begin in 2005, with completion by 2009.

As part of the community consultation, residents will be asked about the route, currently slated to begin at No. 3 Road and Granville northward to Bridgeport, over the river to Cambie Street and terminating at Waterfront Station.

They will also be asked their expectations for travel time between Richmond Centre and downtown: no more than 30 minutes? 25?

And perhaps one of the most controversial questions: should it be elevated, underground or at street level?

As Bird points out, portions of the line between downtown Vancouver and Queen Elizabeth Park will require tunneling. But other portions of the line will be open for input.

As for the section along No. 3 Road, Richmond city council is almost unanimous in its support for light rail at street level.

"For our topography I think it just makes a whole lot more sense," Coun. Linda Barnes said. "I just don't think (an elevated SkyTrain) would look right."

Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt is unequivocal: "I think it would be a blight on the Richmond landscape."

Light rail "would blend in better," she added.

Even Coun. Rob Howard, who previously advocated SkyTrain, has had second thoughts.

"If this can be done by surface (rail), then I'm more than willing to look at it," Howard said, adding that he was initially concerned about travel times and ridership.

"But I've heard from people that surface can be just as fast because it can be tied into traffic signals and so on."

A technical analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that an at-grade system would be substantially cheaper to build, but would cost more to operate.

Richmond Centre MLA Greg Halsey-Brandt said he spoke to Montreal-based Bombardier, makers of SkyTrain, when he was mayor, who told him their system does not have to be elevated. The cars could run at street level, with the power coming from above.

"I just don't want pillars going down No. 3 Road," Halsey-Brandt said.

Coun. Kiichi Kumagai said: "I'd have no problem looking at SkyTrain if there were no obtrusive pillars."

Another possibility is to use existing rail right-of-way by Arbutus Street in Vancouver. While the previous Vancouver council endorsed the Cambie corridor, some current Vancouver councillors want to look at the Arbutus alternative, since there is already a rail line there.

Information gathered through the community consultation will be compiled into a consultation summary report, which will be presented to the eight participating agencies for consideration.

For more details, visit


Length: 19.5 km

Number of proposed stations: 18 or 19

Travel time: 25-30 mins

Estimated cost: $1.5-$1.7 billion

Ridership estimate: 100,000 boardings per day by 2010

Construction: 5 years (2005-2009)

Richmond stations: Richmond Centre, Westminster, Alderbridge, Cambie, Capstan Way, Bridgeport, and four at the airport

Polling the politicians

SkyTrain or light rail?

Coun. Linda Barnes

"I just don't think (SkyTrain) would look right."

Coun. Rob Howard

"If this can be done by surface (rail), then I'm more than willing to look at it. What I don't know yet is how intrusive something at surface would be."

Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt

"I think SkyTrain is very big, it's very expensive, it's unattractive in character."

Coun. Bill McNulty

"I think SkyTrain a detriment to Richmond visually, aesthetically and otherwise. It makes sense to go with (light rail)."

Coun. Harold Steves

On SkyTrain: "You could hear it and see it from everywhere in Richmond because it's flat."

Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt

"(SkyTrain) is so massive. Richmond is so flat, the stations so huge, it would visually destroy the city."

Mayor Malcolm Brodie

"I'm of a mixed mind. I think we need the experts to tell us more about it."

Coun. Derek Dang

"I think SkyTrain would just ruin the landscape."

Coun. Kiichi Kumagai

"The SkyTrain system is most efficient from an operational point of view. I'd have no problem with SkyTrain if there were no obtrusive pillars."

Richmond Centre MLA Greg Halsey-Brandt

"(Light rail) might not be quite as fast, but too bad. I'm willing to pay the price of a minute or two."


March 3 to 14 - materials will be displayed at Richmond City Hall and Vancouver International Airport. Discussion guide and feedback form available.

March 8 - Public workshop, Richmond City Hall, 9 a.m. to noon.

Feb. 24 to March 24 - meetings with community organizations.

Richmond family joins vaccine lawsuit

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

A Richmond family has joined a class-action lawsuit that claims a mercury-based preservative once found in vaccines caused their two-year-old son to become autistic.

Elias Soursos said his son Niko, 2, was diagnosed with autism last August and the family has since joined a class-action lawsuit filed by Vancouver law firm Klein Lyons. The lawsuit contends that the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal caused Niko's neurological damage and that the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the hepatitis B vaccine should have known about the dangers. Niko received three hep B shots by the time he was eight months old. The vaccine became Thimerosal-free more than a year ago.

Elias Soursos said Thursday he actually learned about the class-action lawsuit, and the theoretical link between Thimerosal and autism, in an article published in The Richmond Review. His wife saved a copy of the article, written last summer, and two months later their son was clinically diagnosed.

Dr. William Walsh, of the Pfeiffer Treatment Centre in Naperville, Ill., said he is continuing to work on a research paper that he hopes will be published in a scientific journal within the year. Walsh said his team has developed a test that can pick out individuals who may be more susceptible to toxic substances, such as mercury and lead. He hopes to prove his theory to his peers by producing lab results that can be replicated by others.


$10 million budgetary shortfall for the 2002/2003 school year resulted in elimination of 188 full-time positions;

in 1997, a $4.1 million shortfall resulted in loss of 107 full-time positions;

a $6 million deficit is forecast for the 2003/04 school year and a $500,000 deficit for 2004/05;

student enrollment plummeted by 350 students last September and is estimated to decline by between 350 and 500 students next year;

student enrollment is expected to decline in Richmond until 2015.

Superstar draws a crowd

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Drawn by the chance to catch a glimpse of Taiwan's hottest superstar, about a thousand teenaged girls crammed into Lansdowne Centre Thursday night where they were first bombarded with the message: say no to street racing.

And if delivering this message to youth was the goal, Thursday's street racing forum, organized by Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido, accomplished something its predecessors did not.

Dubbed by Time Asia magazine as "Asia's hottest superstar", singer/songwriter Jay Chou (Chou Chieh-lun), 24, was the eagerly awaited special guest and drew a crowd that seemingly swelled to more than 1,000 people in the Lansdowne Centre courtyard near Safeway.

"We've had street racing forums before and we've only had one or two (young people)," Peschisolido said to the crowd. "We're going to change some attitudes and we're also going to change the law," he said, referring to a circulating petition that will be sent to the House of Commons, urging that Ottawa rewrite the criminal code to force judges to impose mandatory jail sentences in cases where dangerous driving causing death involves street racing.

Both the daughter and sister of street racing victim Irene Thorpe, who was killed during a stroll in south Vancouver, pleaded for youth to slow down.

"I beg you to please stop before you take another innocent victim," said an emotional Nina Rivet, Thorpe's sister, adding that youth need to take responsibility for their actions.

Chris Ng, father of the late RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng who died in a tragic high-speed crash in September, described street racers as "merciless, reckless and irresponsible individuals."

He said when a driver's aggressive and competitive emotions overcome their otherwise good nature "bad things happen."

Ng also urged parents to take a stand and responsibility for their children's actions.

Chou also told the crowd of Asian teens that street racing isn't cool. He signed a jacket and baseball cap, which were subsequently auctioned off for a combined $1,300 to two young women. Chou flew in Thursday for a scheduled Friday night performance at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.

Stability at last

Local transition home launches fundraising campaign, with new facility to open in summer

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

It's something nobody wants.

But it's something we can't do without.

That was the message at a press conference Thursday launching the campaign by Chimo Crisis Services to raise $50,000 to furnish and equip a new 10-bed facility for women and children fleeing violence at home, set to open this summer.

In Canada, one in three women experience violence at the hands of a man close to them at some point in their lives. Since its establishment in 1981, 5,000 women and children have received much-needed help.

"Nova House is that place of refuge in Richmond," said Franklin Fung, a director on Chimo's board.

Gilmore Park United Church gave the campaign a $5,000 jump-start Thursday, and Chimo is looking to residents to help with the final phase. Late last year the federal government pitched in $700,000 to cover the majority of construction costs for the project.

"If you want to get things accomplished, this is the way to do it," Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido said.

For a facility that is designed to help restore stability to families in crisis, Nova House has suffered from transience during its 22 year history.

The city has always provided a house on property slated for redevelopment for a nominal sum. But this has meant Nova House has moved three times over the years to make room for new development.

In addition to stabilty, the new 5,243 square foot facility will also enable the organization to serve more people, because it will be purpose-builtallowing rooms to be organized according to need. The Milan and Maureen Illich Foundation have contributed all the costs for supporting materials (such as brochures and web design) for the community campaign, said campaign organizer Cynthia Chen.

"With this support it means every dollar raised in the campaign will go to the campaign goal," Chen said.

Nova House, Richmond's only transition house, provides a family environment for up to 10 women and children and is staffed 24 hours a day. Residents stay at the house for up to four weeks, and staff provide emotional support and help with immediate medical, financial, child care and housing concerns.

Campaign volunteers will be getting the word out by mail, e-mail and word-of-mouth through friends and neighbours, and through the Ethel Tibbits Awards Luncheon March 4put on by The Richmond Review.

"It's natural for The Richmond Review to be part of this campaign," publisher Lois Hourston said. "We're grateful to be part of this challenge."

Also partnering in the campaign is the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel.

For information on the campaign, call 604-279-7077.

Casino proposal now goes to the public

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Council has had its say, now the public will weigh in on Great Canadian Casinos Inc.'s redevelopment plan for the former BridgePoint Market property.

The rezoning received its first three readings at Monday night's council meeting, with Mayor Malcolm Brodie and councillors Sue Halsey-Brandt and Derek Dang opposed.

The company hopes to move its existing casino, located at the corner of Sea Island Way and No. 3 Road, to the BridgePoint site and make it a full-service casino with 300 slot machines. Included in the $60 million project is a hotel, convention space and retail.

Coun. Harold Steves said his affirmative vote is in part a way of making amends for the past.

"I do feel somewhat responsible for BridgePoint Market," Steves said. "I chaired the planning committee 20 years ago." Steves said the failing of the past project was lack of a strong anchor tenant.

"This time around with a hotel and a casino as an anchor, we can revitalize the whole area."

A public hearing into the proposal will be March 17 in council chambers. Council will make its final decision that evening.

Bright lights, big shopping centre

Aberdeen Centre vows to re-open with a splash this November

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Come November, there will be a hint of Las Vegas in downtown Richmond.

The $130 million Aberdeen Centre is on schedule to open this fall, and will feature two landmarks inspired by Las Vegas: an ever-changing sky projected onto the mall's domed ceiling a la Caesar's Palace, and a 14-metre musical fountain and light show that promises to be a faithful miniature of its famous cousin at the Bellagio Hotel.

Danny Leung, senior vice-president of Fairchild Developments, said the $3 million fountain, light, sound and special effects system will be a landmark not only for Richmond, but for the entire Lower Mainland.

The hope is that the mall's unique mix of Asian and non-Asian retailers, combined with the theatrical lighting and visual entertainment, will draw people from all walks of life and backgrounds.

Thomas Fung, owner of Fairchild Developments, will be gambling another $30 million on the mall's success, in addition to the $100 million price tag on the mall itself. Fung will be proceeding with plans to build an eight-storey, 150-room, 128,000-square-foot hotel that will be attached to the mall and could open in 2004.

This comes at a time when many local hotels are struggling to make ends meet.

Hotel consultant Angus Wilkinson, president of Tyne Hospitality Services, said Richmond already has too many hotel rooms and this contributed to two hotels going into receivership over the last couple of years.

"Today, there isn't any justification to build another hotel in Richmond."

Unlike the heydays of the mid 1990s, when Richmond hotels had among the highest occupancy rates in North America, topping the 80 per cent mark, the market has floundered considerably since then.

Currently, hotels are averaging 65 per cent occupancy, with some hotels as low as 47 per cent. But Wilkinson said Fairchild's hotel could be a big winner because of its location.

"This shopping centre location should do fine. It'll just take away from other locations that are not doing well."

Leung said the addition of the hotel is in anticipation of a stronger future for the hotel industry, which he believes will soon turn around.

"We are quite confident that we will be able to make it."

With eight months to go before it opens its doors, the mall is on course. It is already some 60 per cent pre-leased, Leung said, although he wouldn't release the names of any of the retailers that have signed on, other than HSBC bank.

Fung is confident the mall will be able to do what its neighbours have failed to; tap into the mainstream non-Asian market.

To help ensure that happens, Fung has been flying all over the world, trying to lure other big name retailers that don't currently have a Canadian presence. Science World has also signed on to display science exhibits and hold regular shows inside the mall.

Two turntables and a mike

Don Fennell, Staff Reporter

Two Turntables and a Microphone attracted 800 youth last year. And even more Richmond teens are expected to show up for this year's festival next Friday at South Arm Community Centre.

"It's a huge event," youth co-ordinator Jeff Campbell said. "It's all youth-driven and provides an outlet for the kids to do some cool stuff."

Members of Super Powered Youth, the community centre's youth group, organized the event which will feature a dance, two live bands, an inflatable bungee jump, a breakdancing demo and more than $400 in prizes. The group is also launching a new edition of the SPY web site which will include a chatroom where visitors can share their views on what they'd like to see.

Campbell says it's important for youth to share in the organizing of projects like Two Turntables and a Microphone because it helps gives them a sense of accomplishment and a feeling they're being listened to and understood. He said they're frequently frustrated trying to find their place in the community.

Tickets for Friday's show, which goes from 7 to 11 p.m., are still available. For information, log on to or phone 604-718-8060.

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