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Richmond's chief planner departs

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Richmond's chief planner is looking for a new job this week after what he says was an amicable separation between himself and the City of Richmond.

David McLellan was tight-lipped about any of the reasons why he leftperhaps because of the confidentiality clause in his parting agreement with the city.

"I'm pursuing new opportunities," McLellan told The Richmond Review Monday.

His last day of work was Friday.

McLellan was one of six senior managers working directly beneath chief administrative officer George Duncan. As the general manager of urban development, he oversaw issues and services affecting the physical form of the city, such as land use and transportation, and also social, environmental and heritage issues.

Whether McLellan jumped or was pushed remains unclear. Duncan declined to comment.

"I think it was a mutual parting of the ways," Coun. Harold Steves said. "We wish David well, because there's no hard feelings or mismanagement. He was a very good asset to the community."

Duncan told council last week of plans to let McLellan go, and council gave its unanimous endorsement, said Coun. Bill McNulty. (All decisions on the hiring or termination of senior managers require council approval)

"David (McLellan) is very, very good on technical matters," said McNulty, who chairs the city's planning committee. "We're losing skill and perspective. But sometimes I think you can be in a position too long. With movement comes positive change. On both sides."

Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt agreed it was a chance for a fresh approach.

"New concepts and new ways of doing things," she said.

McLellan started work with the city on July 4, 1989 as manager of development applications. In December 1996 he was promoted to the general manager's position.

Development applications manager Joe Erceg is filling McLellan's position until a new person is hired.

The events that led to McLellan's departure may have occurred this spring. He applied for the top job when it was vacated by Duncan, who briefly took the city manager's job in London, Ont.

But when things didn't work out for Duncan in Ontario, he was offered his old job back.

"Once you decide it's time for a career change and the organization's doors are start looking around," Halsey-Brandt said. "That may have played a hand."

Both the District of North Vancouver and the City of Port Moody are seeking city managers. McLellan wouldn't comment on his future plans.

Severance for departing senior managers is often significant. In 2002, McLellan earned $144,000, and his parting package could be in that range.

City public affairs manager Ted Townsend said details of a final settlement are still being finalized.

"We don't have anything to release at this point," he said.

Local developer Dana Westermark says he'll miss McLellan's "reasonable, even-handed" style.

"I'm surprised at his sudden departure," he said. "He'll be missed."

Bob Ransford, who often deals with the city on the behalf of developers, said McLellan "had a good feel for the community."

"But, you know, people change and times change," he added.

Townsend said the city will soon begin its search for a replacementsomeone up to the challenges posed by growth, the pending acquisition of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' lands at Garden City and Alderbridge and the 2010 Winter Olympics, among others.

"The new head will have a lot on his or her plate," Townsend said.

Steves said the city is looking at "streamlining" and "modernizing" operations in Richmond.

"It could mean fewer management," he said. "It will certainly be more efficient management."

Growth in Richmond is relatively slow, the population is aging and infrastructure will require replacement. Council is dealing with significant cost increases now and in coming years and, other than the expanded gambling, there is little in the way of new revenue.

"We're facing a pretty hefty increase in required revenues to run our existing programs," Steves said.

School district enrolment projections bang on

School closures will save more money than expected

Daniel Pi, Contributor

Richmond School District had 63 more students show up for school last week than projected.

Richmond's schools will be the second home to 22,263 full-time students this year.

Each student represents about $5,365 worth of basic funding from the provincial government so the more students enrolled in Richmond schools means more money will be available to school programs.

Even though the district met its projected student numbers, the overall student population in the city is declining.

"Basically we've hit our projections, but it's true we're 500 students down from last year," acting superintendent Bruce Beairsto said.

The reason isn't due to the city getting smaller, but because people are choosing to have smaller families, he added.

Housing is also having an impact on student enrolment, but not in the way expected. Beairsto said old patterns are breaking down and more students are coming from apartments where traditionally they did not.

He said families seem more willing to raise their kids in apartments and not move out to a house with a backyard when they get children.

While having more enrolment means more funding, the district has also found additional savings through this summer's closure of three elementary schools.

Rideau Park, Alexander Kilgour and B.W. Garratt students were expected to move to the next closest school. However, district staff found the students generally dispersed to different schools across the city.

"We found we could fit (the students) into existing spaces without adding new staff," Beairsto said. "It looks like we saved significantly more than projected."

While the final savings haven't been tallied, the original projected savings for the closure of the elementary schools was $511,000.

Rain doesn't lift trail bans

Daniel Pi, Contributor

The rain is falling but still not in the amount needed for banned trails and parks to reopen in Richmond.

"We need a lot more water yet, but it's a good sign we're getting the fall weather back," said Dave Semple, parks director for the City of Richmond.

While more rainfall is predicted for the near future Semple says trails will remain closed this weekend with the city re-evaluating the closures on Monday.

"We'll be observing (the trails) this weekend," he said.

The city is working with the RCMP and Richmond Fire-Rescue to enforce the trail and park bans, but Semple said the city's preference is taking an educational and awareness stance instead of outright enforcement.

The current parks and trails closed by the city are the Richmond Nature Park, Shell Road Trail, Agassiz Park, No. 7 Road Trail by Triangle Road along the South Dyke, Woodward Slough Trail and the North East Bog Forest.

For more information on the trail and park bans, call the city parks department at 604-244-1208.

Street racing problem still far from solved

Daniel Pi, Contributor

While street racing and dangerous driving has had a lower profile in recent months, Richmond RCMP Const. Dave Williams says the battle to curb bad driving habits has only just begun.

It has been almost a year since a high-speed accident killed RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng and Richmond's streets have quieted down through a concentrated effort by the RCMP criminal driving team.

But Williams says the street racing problem has not yet been solved.

"We haven't alleviated the issue, we've displaced it," he said.

The RCMP unveiled $250,000 worth new equipment for combating criminal driving in July. Williams said it's going to take several more years of education and enforcement before street racing will finally be considered socially unacceptable.

He likens the challenge to the campaign to discourage drinking and driving. While a lot of older, more seasoned drivers will consider driving after they've had a drink, Williams said it's different now with the younger generation.

"Younger people won't think about getting behind the wheel after they've had a drink," he said. "It's not cool. But it's cool to race."

Richmond RCMP will continue to crack down on street racing with their new equipment, which includes two covert vehicles, radar equipment and in-car video cameras.

SPCA contract up for consideration

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Animal control in Richmond could be under new terms, if city council approves a motion being put on the table today.

A staff report to the community safety committee recommends not renewing the city's contract with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at this time, and instead contracting them on a month-to-month basis while the city explores its options.

It's possible the SPCA could even be out of the picture.

"Staff are currently in discussion with the BCSPCA with regard to service delivery models," the report, written by bylaws manager Don Pearson, states. "And are discussing internally other service delivery options."

In the past, the SPCA has been engaged on two year contracts. The current contract expires Dec. 31, and has the city paying $268,000 annually for the provision of animal control regulation and shelter services. In addition, the SPCA keeps all revenues generated through sources such as license, pound and adoption fees.

The BCSPCA has stated its willingness to go month-to-month if service delivery options and contract negotiations are not complete by that time.

Pearson said future of the City-SPCA arrangement lies solely in the hands of council and, if necessary, in negotiation with the SPCA itself.

Coun. Bill McNulty said he's unsatisfied with animal enforcement in the city, and is particularly anxious to see a bylaw dealing with nuisance barking.

"The SPCA, if they can't enforce it and respond with customer service, I'm only going to look at it month-to-month," McNulty said. "People are getting fed up with barking dogs in Richmond."

Back in March 2002, the SPCA was considering opting out of providing animal control and enforcement services, only operating a shelter, according to a city staff report. Staff stated that without city funding, the shelter would likely have to increase licensing fees in order to sustain itself.

Council voted at the time to renew the two-year contract.

Nursery owner frustrated by break-ins

Daniel Pi, Contributor

Operating a greenhouse nursery already has its challenges. But Jake Wootton, owner of Hawaiian Botanicals and Water Gardens on No. 7 Road, says three breaks-ins in the last six months is starting to make life frustrating.

Sometime last Thursday night and early Friday morning, thieves slashed a U-shaped entrance in one of Wootton's plastic greenhouses and made off with two wood shelves imported from Taiwan.

Before that in March, Wootton believes some youths cut their way into the same greenhouse, but finding only plants, left without stealing anything.

And in June, vandals attacked his van, smashing a window, but only taking his wife's driving glasses.

The nursery property on No. 7 Road and Westminster Highway consists of a home he shares with his wife, the main greenhouse and several smaller ones. Surrounding the structures is a chainlink fence about two metres high Wootton installed about two and half years ago and security lights.

"It seems ridiculous to go to this expense to keep people out," said Wootton, adding he'll be installing more security measures now because of the recent thefts.

The two shelves that were stolen were originally brought from Taiwan 20 years ago by Wootton's in-laws, and five years ago they were given to him. His wife believes the shelves are irreplaceable as her parents have said the shelves are no longer made in Taiwan.

The damage in the three recent break-ins has cost less than $2,000 and Wootton describes it as "needless harassment" that is disrupting his business. Each cut on the greenhouse walls causes the integrity of the tropical environment to decline. The leaks may eventually cause Wootton to replace whole sections of the greenhouse.

RCMP are investigating, but the only real option left for the nursery owner is to increase security. While he thought the fence high enough, Wootton said he is considering adding barbed wire to the tops to deter any future trespassers.

"But that's going to look like hell."

Water usage can be at odds with fish, report says

Low stream flows could be disastrous for salmon

Julia Caranci, MetroValley News

Low stream flows in B.C. are potentially disastrous for wild salmon and other aquatic populations, according to a report released last week.

The report, from the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, cites unprecedented water demand from both residential and industrial/agricultural sources as a significant factor contributing to low stream flow.

Mark Angelo, conservationist and co-author of the report, said low stream flows are fast becoming "a serious issue."

"We are at a crisis point," he said. "We have to strike a balance between the allotment for humans while protecting fish.

"Unfortunately, it's a battle fish often lose."

Low flows are currently affecting thousands of streams province-wide and the report states "a lack of water is clearly impacting on fish production."

There are about 3,500 streams in B.C., vital to the life-cycles of wild salmon and other aquatic life.

Low water flow affects salmon in several ways.

Movement is difficult, isolating juvenile salmon and preventing adults from returning to spawning areas.

Also, lower water levels mean higher temperatures and lower oxygen concentrations. Angelo said streams with temperatures topping 20 degrees for prolonged periods are not unusual. Such conditions are stressful to salmon and can cause death.

While part of the problem may stem from climate change, marked by low snowpacks and unusually dry, hot conditions province-wide, human water use is the major concern.

Residential use is part of the problem, however, Angelo said 60 per cent of fresh water consumption is by industrial and agricultural activities. And while residential use can be reduced through conservation measures and regulations, industrial/agricultural use is difficult to monitor.

The province has issued some 50,000 water licences to individuals and businesses to date. Licences are issued by Land and Water B.C., a Crown corporation.

Water licensees are seldom monitored, said Angelo, and users sometimes take more than their allotment with little or no consequence.

In some cases, water licences are equal to or in excess of total stream flows, he said.

In the Lower Mainland, 117 streams are at or approaching full allocation, with close to 6,000 licences current or outstanding.

Glen Thompson, Land and Water B.C. service centre director for the Lower Mainland, insists proper planning ensures flow in high demand streams is maintained.

"We're not aware of any problems yet," he said. "We try to balance it."

Thompson did admit this year has been problematic due to extremely dry conditions province-wide. In fact, stop diversion orders have been issued in some critical streams in the Okanagan region this summer.

Ultimately, it is difficult to monitor water licences, and punishing those who abuse the system is a slow and difficult process, said Angelo.

He described the case of a rancher in B.C. who was proven to be taking more than his allotment of water in 1991. The case was finally settled in 2001.

Thompson said Land and Water B.C. takes a compliance rather than punitive approach to towards licensees. The corporation relies on inspections and tips from the public.

"We try to solve the issue before using enforcement," he said.

But Angelo argues more should be done to protect B.C. streams.

"We can do a much better job of monitoring how water is used," he said. "This is a wake-up call for all of us who live in this province. It's forcing us all to look at water in a different way."

If the issue isn't addressed soon, it may come down to making a choice between fish and human beings, said Angelo.

What you carry with you

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Sometimes they carry a clenched fist. Many of the characters in the latest performance by Miscellaneous Productions are angrythe play includes gangs, drugs, bomb threats and home invasions.

It seems distant from the day-to-day experiences of the 16 Richmond teens and seniors who make up the amateur cast of What You Carry With You, which opens today at Gateway Theatre.

"It's so violent and it's so different from my own relationships," admits Catherine Chiu, 18, who plays both Jade and, in a role reversal later in the play, Jade's aunt Laura. "It's insightful, though, into how things happen and how to do something about it."

Impact, insight and thought-provoking content are key to this project and Miscellaneous Productions' previous work, The Reena Project/Outcasts & Angels, performed in Richmond in 2001. The Reena Project was inspired by the beating death of Reena Virk at the hands of a group of Victoria teens, and explored the issues of bullying, racism and homophobia.

Last year, Miscellaneous Productions put out a call for seniors and youth interested in another innovative projectone that would involve not only theatre, but also video, music and dance. The cast has been in rehearsal since last October. The long schedule was necessary, though, as the production was developed from scratch through the input of the cast.

The story begins on Sept. 11, 2001 when a young neo-Nazi phones a Richmond muslim school with a bomb threat. The play continues on using an episodic structure. This allows the cast and audience to examine many issues, such as the legacy of violence and its links to xenophobia, the experiences of families coming to Richmond from war-torn parts of the world, and the relationships between youth and elders.

"I've learned lots of things," says Iva Lam, 55, who plays Shuk Fung (Jade's mother) and Mary (Shuk Fung's sister).

Lam emigrated from Hong Kong in 1989 and feels she's lived "in a bubble" in many ways. At first she signed on because she wanted a chance to act and perform. But working on this project has introduced her to many people outside her circle of Chinese-speaking friends, and it's also opened her up to some powerful issues.

The show includes a performance from the taiko band Loud. At times during the theatre performance, cast members will open suitcases and trunks located on the stage, and take out beautiful, significant objects.These objects may become hidden, lost and/or destroyed during the ensuing action.

Chiu says working on a production that brings teens and seniors together has taught her the importance of "what you carry with you." Too often, people don't take the time to sit down with their elders to ask them about their past and what they've learned.

"There's so much that people learn in their lives that doesn't get passed on," Chiu says. "We don't realize how much our elders have. We don't make use of that resource."

And though the show presents challenging content, Chiu says it's worth exploring.

"It's presenting the issue and putting it out there for people to know about," she says. "It's not something you like to talk about over dinner. If you don't do anything it's going to come back in a circle and hit you in the face."

What You Carry With You runs Sept. 11-13 and 18-20 at Gateway Theatre's Studio B (6500 Gilbert). Ticket info: 604-270-1812.

Richmond moving to pay-by-flow

But the real conservation motivator is a graduated system, GVRD says

Chris Bryan , Staff Reporter

In the Lower Mainland, only Delta uses more water per capita than Richmond residents, when residential, commercial and industrial uses are combined.

And although Richmond residents will be able to have meters installed free-of-charge in the near future, it's unlikely the pricing regime will inspire better water conservation.

Each day in 2001, Richmond's per capita usage was 668 litres. (Richmond's residential usage is 330 litres per day.) Delta residents used 16 more litres daily, but the balance of Lower Mainland municipalities ranged from 474 litres (Langley City) to 640 (Burnaby).

There's a reason Langley City uses so little water, according to the Greater Vancouver Regional Districtthat city uses "graduated block metering."

For example, a resident will pay 10 a litre for the first 100 litres, 12 for the next and then 15 for each additional litre after that.

"That makes for a higher incentive to reduce water use," GVRD policy and planning manager Ken Cameron said.

In Seattle, where a similarly aggressive cost structure is used, "it has had a significant impact," Cameron added.

In the next few months, Richmond residents will be able to choose to pay the flat rate or the metered rate.

But in the beginning, metering will be done on a fixed cost per litre system.

City of Richmond water services manager Steve McClurg said the cost structure will benefit people who use quantities that are average or below average. But not significantly.

In the future, though, Richmond will likely move to graduated block metering.

"It's a natural progression," McClurg said.

Coun. Rob Howard said metering is an "absolute necessity," and graduated block metering is also worth considering.

"This summer has proven we can be vulnerable," he said.

"It doesn't make sense that large users can get away with squandering a scarce resource," Howard added.

Some municipalities actually have a higher rate for water in the summer (when use is high), and a lower rate in the winter, when water use is low.

All industrial, commercial and multi-family residences in Richmond are already metered. And for the past two years, all new houses in Richmond have been built with water meters.

In the coming weeks, a service provider will be chosen to provide meters to residents who request itfree of charge.

The city is using incentive for this one: for the first portion of households, the company will be paid a set rate. For households over and above, it will be paid more per house.

"The more successful the program, the more we will pay per meter, per unit," McClurg said.

If Richmond can reduce its per capita water usage, there's an added bonus. Cities pay the GVRD for water based on the proportion of the region's water used.

McClurg said if Richmond could reduce its consumption by 10 per cent, it could save the city as much as $1 million annually.

"All the other cities will cover our savings," he said.

Water: More in reserve, or conserve?

GVRD to spend $640 million on water issues in next decade

Julia Caranci, MetroValley News

Increasing Greater Vancouver water supplies is a costly venture and not the only answer to meeting local water needs, say officials.

But many residents are asking why supplies can't be expanded to meet needs, instead of decreasing demand to meet supplies.

The Greater Vancouver Regional District is coping with one of the worst water plights in 10 years.

Reserves, initially down due to lower than expected snowpacks and repair work on one reservoir lake, have dwindled over the summer and currently sit at approximately 38 per cent.

On Aug. 22, the regional district went to Stage 4 water restrictionsa full sprinkling ban the highest measure possible.

The ban will remain in place until at least the end of September.

This week the GVRD began discussions with the region's 22-member municipalities to add a higher level, Stage 5, to the hierarchy of water conservation measures.

GVRD water manager Paul Archibald said Wednesday the new measures would likely involve curbing use by some heavy water using businesses (breweries and soft drink companies are possible examples).

There are no plans to go to the new level immediately, but officials want options should conditions worsen.

"While we may not need them now, we want to have a vehicle in place to do that (increase restrictions)," GVRD communications manager Bill Morrell said. "We need other ways of saving water over and above the measures we have now."

Stage 4 appears to be working. Demand decreased by 15 per cent over the last week of August to 1.24 billion litres per day, down from 1.47 billion litres per day before the new restrictions.

But critics argue the GVRD must increase supplies to meet the needs of an expanding population.

In fact, some $640 million will be spent by the GVRD on water issues over the next decade, namely the Seymour Capilano filtration project with completion in 2007 and the Coquitlam diversion and corrosion control project, which has a completion date of 2013.

While the latter project will see some expansion, these are mainly water quality projects, and no money is currently set aside to fund major increases to Greater Vancouver water supplies, Morrell said.

However, he said the regional district will approach B.C. Hydro and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to request the right to take more water from Coquitlam Lake.

There is also the possibility of raising the Seymour Dam to increase capacity.

Supply, said Morrell, is not the issuethe problem is having the capacity to collect enough water over the winter to serve residents during the dry summer months.

But he insists conservation is a far more efficient and economical way of making the most of supplies.

"At the end of the day, this comes down to money," he said. "With unlimited amounts of money, you can have as much water as you want."

Morrell added there are other major projects in the region which require more immediate attention and capital, namely improving air quality and the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rapid transit line.

He said this year's water situation is unusual, but regardless of what happens in the future, reservoirs will continue to be the main water supply in Greater Vancouver.

Desalinization is an option that Morrell says is "hugely expensive" and not high on the GVRD's list as a solution.

Wells, which currently supply some water needs in areas such as White Rock, are not feasible for large scale use such as what is required to meet Greater Vancouver's needs.

Water metering, which has been proven to reduce use by anywhere from 12 to 19 per cent, is also expensive, with the cost for region-wide installation running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ultimately, said Morrell, there is enough water to meet Greater Vancouver's needs until 2050, provided residents make small sacrifices during peak demand periods.

"Water is not an infinite resource," Morrell said. "We are probably the most profligate water users in the world."

Canadians use an average of about 326 litres of water each day, and summer household use can double that amount.

In Europe, average consumption is between 150 and 200 litres per day on average. Sub-Saharan Africans use just 10 to 20 litres of water per day

Only Americans use more water than Canadians, with an average daily use of more than 400 litres per day.

Pay parking still no cash cow

Program likely won't make budget in 2003

Chris Bryan , Staff Reporter

In terms of revenue, it doesn't look good for pay parking.

The City of Richmond is cutting the number of parking meters from 81 to 42. In August, the city decided to break its relationship with EasyPark and run the pay parking program itselfmeaning it needs to hire more staff.

Also, the one year free trial is over for the meters, so the city is on the hook for $569,000 in capital costs for the 42 it's keeping.

"It isn't on life support," said Coun. Derek Dang, vice chair of the city's community safety committee, which oversees the program. "But...if it doesn't meet favourable projections it probably will be reviewed like everything else."

This year, at least, it appears it won't meet budget.

Net pay parking revenues for the first six months of this year totalled $190,340, bylaws manager Don Pearson said. That's after all costs paid to EasyPark for administration. The 2003 budget has targeted revenues at $484,000, after expenses.

"I don't know if we'll make the budget figure," he said. "But I think we'll do quite well in the future."

The meters being dumped won't be much of a loss, he added. All 39 were under-performingsome making as little as $10 a month. By comparison, meters in other areas of the city can bring in as much as $1,600.

Where meters are pulled, the city will sell permits or set time limits on parking.

The city began charging for on-street and off-street parking in select areas in the core of the city Aug. 1, 2002. Since that time, it has scrapped plans to expand the program to other areasmost recently Stevestonand council has frequently voiced dissatisfaction with its performance.

"I think the program is still under scrutiny as far as council goes," Dang said.

Council was attracted by the revenue the program could provide, particularly because they have begun to face significant property tax increases in recent years. But another purpose of the program was to free up parking spaces in the downtown core.

With the end of the EasyPark contract, the city is hiring one more full-time enforcement officer, bringing the complement to eight full-time employees.

Dang said council should give the program at least a year under city control before any significant decision about its future is made. New programs need time to work out the bugs.

"We're still dipping our toe into the water," he said.

Pearson will present a report to community safety committee next week updating council on the program, and presenting options for which meters should be kept.

Richmond man sentenced to eight years in shooting death

Chris Bryan, Staff Reporter

Richmond's Sarbjit Singh Dhanda was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday for the shooting death of Kamalbir (Kam) Jawanda Sept. 29, 2001.

A jury found Dhanda guilty of manslaughter in July. He had originally been charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Jawanda and the attempted murder of Inderbir Jawanda. But the jury opted for the lesser charge, concluding that provocation was involved.

In her sentencing this week, B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice D.J. Martinson agreed that Dhanda was provoked, but didn't agree with defence arguments that the force used was justified to protect himself, his girlfriend and his family at their 11340 Williams Rd. home where the shootings took place.

"He fired in anger, not in self-defence," Martinson said. "Mr. Dhanda intended to kill Mr. Jawanda and did so in a brutal fashion, when he was sober."

"All he was trying to do was protect his family and himself," said Dhanda's sister, Amar, outside the Vancouver courtroom. "Somebody comes to your house numerous times...and wreaks havoc. My brother thought he did what was best. To be charged and sentenced to eight years because of this? The justice system has failed."

Two weeks before the fatal shooting, Dhanda's house had been the target of vandals, who smashed ground floor windows and dented vehicles parked out front, and then a day later fired as many as 10 shots into the house.

The vandalism sparked a series of retaliatory attacks between Dhanda and Jawanda which appears to have been rooted in jealousy over Dhanda's girlfriend, who is Jawanda's ex.

On the evening of the shooting, Gary Sidhu smashed the windows of Kamalbir Jawanda's truck, parked outside the Richmond nightclub Annabelle's.

Jawanda was "drunk and angry" and called his cousin, Inderbir, and a friend, Amrit Bains. The three menthinking Dhanda broke the windowswent to Dhanda's home and using a crow bar, hammer and baseball bat, began smashing windows. They were also taunting, calling "I'm going to kill you," according to court testimony.

On the evening of the murder, Martinson said, "there is no evidence that Jawanda had a firearm." And though character evidence testified to his "propensity for violence...None of that evidence showed Jawanda ever used a firearm."

Using a pump-action shotgun, Dhanda fired two shots at Jawanda's head from close range, one shot "probably a contact wound," Martinson said.

"The injuries can only be described as horrific," she added. "The response to the provocation was wholly excessive."

The justice said her sentence took into consideration the victim impact statements received from the Jawanda family.

"The crime has had an enormous impact on Mr. Jawanda's family and his friends," Martinson said.

Departing the prisoner's dock after sentencing, Dhanda nodded at Jawanda's friends in the gallery.

Earlier in the trialbefore Dhanda was taken into custody upon convictionDhanda had a verbal exchange with Inderbir Jawanda in front of reporters immediately outside the courtroom.

"Me and you soon," Dhanda said to Inderbir on the afternoon Dhanda first took the stand in his own defence on June 26.

Inderbir responded by nodding his head and smiling.

Both Dhanda and his girlfriend, Jaspreet Atwal, have told the court their lives have been threatened by the Jawanda family. Though in custody, Dhanda continues to feel his life is in danger.

"And this view is supported by members of the correctional service," said Martinson Thursday, adding that Dhanda had been moved to solitary confinement.

When contacted, the Jawanda family declined comment.

But when The Richmond Review spoke to the victim's father Kuldip Jawanda in July, he said he doesn't approve of retribution.

"We haven't received any threats and we've never threatened anybody," he said.

The eight year sentence is within the eight to 10 year range requested by the prosecution.

Crown counsel Geordie Proulx was pleased to see general deterrence factored into the court's decisiona recognition of the seriousness of the crime.

"That was an important principle in this case, and it appears the court agreed with it," Proulx said.

A murder conviction requires a 10-year minimum sentence, while manslaughter has no minimum. Dhanda's lawyer had requested a conditional discharge.

Following Jawanda's death, Gurjinder Singh (Gary) Sidhu was murdered in North Delta in 2002.

Sidhu was a close friend of both Dhanda and Rakinder (Rick) Bhatti, a school teacher who was gunned down outside the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh temple in Surrey on Oct. 9, 2002.

That shooting happened the same day that Bhatti's friend and Richmond resident Narinder (Ned) Mander disappeared. He is feared dead.

Dhanda's lawyer Russ Chamberlain has filed an appeal of the conviction and has requested his client's release in the meantime. Chamberlain also plans to appeal the sentencing portion next week.

with files from Martin van den Hemel.

Fish-friendly ways earns award

Philip Raphael, Staff Reporter

A Richmond marine fish wholesaler has been praised and singled out for distinction because of its commitment to protect the environment and save the lives of countless fish destined for the hobby aquarium industry.

Coast Mountain Aquatics was among a select few wholesalers around the world, and the first in Canada, to earn certification from the Marine Aquarium Council. The company was recognized for importing only live reef fish and coral that have been captured and harvested using environmentally sensitive, and sustainable methods.

Kyle Nelson, co-owner of the business that opened its doors and filled its tanks two years, said he is pleased with the recognition. But he added that change in the business to ensure the resource of marine fish is not seriously harmed will take time and effort of more operations like theirs which shun poor fish catching and handling practices.

The Marine Aquarium Council is an international organization made up of conservation organizations, the aquarium industry, public and private aquaria, as well as government agencies whose goal is to conserve coral reefs and stop the the destructive methods that are used to gather fish for the industry.

At the top of its list is the practice of injecting cyanide into a coral reef area to stun fish so they are easier to capture.

The toxic chemical kills many fish outright that get too strong a blast from a diver collecting them. And those that do survive the encounter have usually incurred enough exposure to the poison that their lifespan is greatly reduced with many dying after a few months.

Nelson said he and business partner Peter Lloyd understand the fragile economics of the industry, since the majority of fish bound for the aquarium trade are caught in Indonesia and the Philippines where the business is a vital source of income for the divers and their families.

And getting them to change their methods when their livelihoods depend on catching as many fish as possible can be like swimming against a strong current.

Nelson said the industry must turn to more sustainable, and less damaging methods of harvesting by using nets instead of chemicals.

And when divers realize using nets greatly increases the number of fish that survive the capture process, making the harvest more effective, it can put more money in their pockets since they get paid only for the fish delivered alive to the exporter, he explained.

The company's adherence to fish-friendly practices extends further than their capture. Nelson and Lloyd, who worked together as cargo handlers for Delta Airlines before plunging into the fish trade, refuse to import clownfish that have been caught in the wild and sell only those that have been raised in captivity.

Nelson said he became interested in the industry after having a hobby aquarium for many years. A layoff from the airline industry also forced he and Lloyd to look at other opportunities, and after studying the aquarium trade, discovered there was a need to be filled as a wholesale supplier in the Canadian market.

Today, they have a total of 3,000 gallons of tank volume (which is soon to double), deal in more than 200 species, and send fish from coast to coast in Canada.

Coast Mountain Aquatics

Address: 19-12871 Bathgate Way

Tel: 604-244-0670

ICBC workers set deadline for new deal

Julia Caranci, MetroValley News

Insurance Corporation of B.C. unionized workers have set an Oct. 27 deadline for possible job action.

The insurance corporation's 4,600 Office and Professional Employees' International Union workers obtained an 84 per cent strike vote mandate last month.

OPEIU officials say a new collective agreement could be reached with the public auto insurance company if management returns to the bargaining table with a reasonable offer based on the existing contract.

But negotiations have stalled, and the union announced Thursday an Oct. 27 deadline to reach a new agreement or it will serve 72-hour strike notice and proceed with job action.

"There is absolutely no need for a labour dispute," said Jerri New, president of OPEIU Local 378. "ICBC made a $77 million profit in the first half of this year. ICBC executives are in line for bonuses of up to $100,000 or more, public auto insurance is keeping rates among the lowest in Canadabut ICBC is provoking a dispute with concession demands."

New said the insurance corporation is demanding reduced wage rates and less time off, lower shift premiums and cuts to other benefits.

ICBC increased rates for basic insurance by 7.3 per cent last year and is planning a further 1.3 per cent in 2004.

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