News
Placeholder image

Banning single-use plastics will reduce Richmond’s waste levels, at a time when environmental issues are top of mind for many people. Photo via /www.pxfuel.com

Richmond city council is expected to adopt a single-use plastic bylaw at the Sept. 27 council meeting, banning foam cups and containers, plastic straws and plastic checkout bags.

The bylaw goes hand-in-hand with the city’s other waste reduction initiatives like its updated recycling depot, where a number of items can be sustainably recycled.

“I think this decision is one that is timely,” says Coun. Andy Hobbs. “Coming out of COVID is a challenge for a lot of businesses, and everybody recognizes that. I think that’s why the city has been very incremental in how they’re doing it. For some people, change will be a little bit difficult and there will be a cost associated with it, but hopefully it will be a manageable cost and it’s a good direction for our city, our province and our country to move in.”

Hobbs notes that current levels of plastic waste equate to the contents of one garbage truck being dumped into the ocean every minute of every day—mostly single-use.

“As a world, plastic has become completely ubiquitous. We use it every day, it’s very convenient, but it’s also very harmful for the environment,” he says.

Personally, Hobbs says he’s always been a “big anti-litterbug person,” and has been trying to avoid taking plastic utensils and straws from restaurants for several years. He says this bylaw is just one part of a larger push for environmental protection, but still an important step.

“It’s part of that circular economy—not just extracting resources and (throwing them away),” says Hobbs. “The difficult part is on an individual level you do things that contribute to it, then your organization does things that contribute to it, and then a community level, a city level, provincial level, national level, international, continental, worldwide. When you take it to the whole world it gets complicated, but ultimately that’s where we want to be going as a world. We all share the ocean.”

Richmond’s bylaw was approved by the province in March 2020, but delayed due to the pandemic and the impact it has had on business and the community. Enforcement and penalties will come into force a year after adoption.

Coun. Michael Wolfe agrees that this is a good time to implement the bylaw, adding that he has been advocating for enhanced recycling for many years.

“I think the ban is long overdue, and that we (should) include more items as soon as possible,” says Wolfe. “The province has recently added to the list of items that can be regulated: plastic cutlery, stir sticks and sandwich bags. I expect those to be added soon after the first phase, so businesses and consumers can begin the transition now.”

The city is providing resources including a public communications campaign, a toolkit and point-of-sale materials for businesses, virtual business support sessions and collaboration with the chamber to develop additional business tools. But the transition will take time, which is why there is a year-long transitional period built into the bylaw.

“I have heard directly from businesses owners and operators that change is hard and will take time,” says Wolfe. “They have existing stockpiles and contracts that need revisiting. When an enforceable ban is in place, businesses will be sure to follow to protect their profit margins.”

City staff note that based on the 2020 Waste Composition Study by Metro Vancouver, 24,754,078 plastic checkout bags, 4,398,730 foam cups and containers and 6,261,458 plastic straws were disposed of in Richmond.

“As a school teacher I've seen how garbage cans are abused on a daily basis, but what is worst of all is the locker clean out days,” says Wolfe. “I compare this to what happens in every garbage can around the city and all the purging of unwanted items that comes around the spring clean-up times. Outright bans will prevent these materials from being produced from fossil fuels in the first place and they will never have the ability to pollute our land and seas.”

More than 20 B.C. municipalities are currently developing bylaws banning single-use plastics. And as of late July, other municipalities that want to introduce single-use plastics bans can do so without provincial approval.

A B.C. government release estimates that since last year, more than 127 tonnes of plastic have been removed from B.C.'s coastline under the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative. In 2019, more than 340,000 tonnes of plastic items and packaging were disposed of in B.C., equal to more than 65 kilograms of plastic waste landfilled per person in one year.
Placeholder imageAndy Hobbs, retired Vancouver police superintendent and former school trustee, plans to run for the recently vacated council seat. With a by-election looming – most likely in late spring – to fill the seat after Kelly Greene was elected to the provincial legislature, Hobbs’ announcement follows a similar announcement last week by Ken Hamaguchi, current school trustee. Hobbs served for 35 years with the VPD and spent two terms on the Richmond Board of Education. He grew up in Richmond, graduated from Richmond Secondary before attending UBC.

Hobbs is currently the chair of the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site Society and served on the boards of Tourism Richmond and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Steveston. In his announcement, Hobbs said he’s “excited for the opportunity to earn the trust and support of fellow Richmondites.” “I have championed many community causes over the years and I plan to present my vision in the coming weeks and months that will make life better for the residents of Richmond,” he added. Hobbs said he wants to bring “forward-looking policies” to city hall as Richmond recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic to “build a stronger, more inclusive, and sustainable city for the future.”
Placeholder imageI grew up in Richmond and graduated from Richmond High and UBC. My wife, Lynn, and I have been married since 1982 and have three adult children. I grew up in Richmond and graduated from Richmond High and UBC. My wife, Lynn, and I have been married since 1982 and have three adult children.

After 35 years of service with the Vancouver Police Department, most recently as the Superintendent, North Command, I retired at the end of May. I was a member of the executive for the last 8 years, the Acting Chief for Transit Police, 2011, and the VPD’s Public Order Gold Commander for police responses to large protests and events.

I’ve received several citations as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to the community and was inducted into the Order of Merit of Police Forces by the Governor General of Canada.

Community volunteerism has always been an important part of our family life and I’ve coached several teams, was president of the Richmond Kigoos Swim Club, and I’m an active cancer fundraiser and a current board member with the Richmond Commu nity Foundation. From 2002 to 2008, I was elected for two-terms to the Richmond School Board. I believe in a safe, livable and inclusive Richmond and have the experience, skills and perspective to serve and to make a positive contribution on Council.
Placeholder image有很多华人在登陆加拿大后,选择“两耳不闻窗外事”,但随着选举知识的普及,近年来越来越多的华人愿意在各级政府选举中投上自己宝贵的一票。

作为大温唯一华人比例超过50%的城市,列治文华人的投票参与度,直接决定了市选的命运。就像联邦大选前夕,每一位候选人都会公布自己的政纲、对国民的承诺那样,随着市选临近,市议员候选人同样需要袒露心声,赢得民众的信任。

Placeholder image

近日,列治文市议员候选人Andy Hobbs先生接受了加拿大乐活网(Lahoo.ca)的专访。在访谈中,他聊到了自己和列治文的不解之缘、对于列治文热点议题的观点、以及对列治文未来发展的看法。

全家扎根于列治文,用一生为列治文服务



想要真正了解自己所服务的城市,最好的方法是扎根于此、经历这座城市所经历的一切。Andy做到了这一点:“几十年来,我都在列治文居住,我的3个孩子也都在列治文出生,我们对列治文了如指掌。”

Placeholder image

一名真正优秀的市议员,则要做到对各行各业、各个领域有深入了解,这样才能在城市建设中具备全局思维,Andy也完全符合:

Andy在温哥华警察局工作了超过35年时间,曾经是交通部门主管,并两次当选为列治文学校局学务委员。目前,Andy还是列治文旅游局的志愿者、皇家加拿大海军搜救队成员。此外,Andy还是Britannia Shipyards国家历史遗迹的主席。在城市的核心领域,Andy均有建树。他笃定,想要更好地为列治文社区服务,就要了解这里的一切。

列治文很安全,但仍需要变得更好



健康和安全,是每个人生活中的头等大事,作为全球人均寿命最高的国家之一,没有人会在加拿大担心健康问题,然而大温的安全问题、治安问题,却总让人觉得如鲠在喉。

Andy直言:通过每年的加拿大各城市犯罪指数可见,列治文的指数一般在77~80之间,在大温属于比较低的 —— 温哥华104、素里130、维多利亚124,治安状况比列治文要严峻不少。



Placeholder image

但大家也意识到,列治文的治安事件还是时有报道,尤其是入室盗窃和汽车盗窃案频发,让民众缺失安全感。前些日子在大温最宜居社区Steveston发生的帮派枪击,更是让整座城市不安。

Andy认为,民众从自身角度需要强化居家安全意识,比如安装防盗设施、和社区居民紧密合作、和皇家骑警配合共同对抗犯罪。而最重要的是皇家骑警能够做到高效率出警:8分钟内要赶到现场、优先确保人身安全。尽管现阶段存在瑕疵,但总体而言列治文的治安在大温是处在前列的。列治文市议会必须要提供足够的预算,来支持警察局的工作,保护列治文社区的安全。

流浪汉临时屋存在争议,但这也是加拿大精神的体现



这个话题,既涉及到房产也涉及到治安:流浪汉临时公寓建设。在温哥华、列治文,华人群体、包括本地加拿大人对政府在黄金地段给流浪汉建设公寓颇有微词,认为这是农夫与蛇的故事,政府得不偿失。



Placeholder image

对此,Andy的建议是:市议会需要聆听列治文居民的意见,要确保公寓数量不能太多、不能让有犯罪记录和严重精神疾病的流浪汉居住、一定要安排24小时的安保力量确保周边居民的安全。之所以要选择较好的地段,是因为旁边普遍有综合型医院,在发生状况时处理起来比较容易。总之,一切都要先安排妥当才能执行。

Andy认为,尽管这个话题争议很大,但这也是加拿大精神所在 —— 关爱所有人、让所有人衣食无忧。只是在实施的时候,需要考虑平衡,需要给出一个让所有人满意的方案。

“我并不喜欢大麻,但这是联邦的决定”



近年来加拿大通过的最让华裔群体不满的决议,当属大麻合法化。毕竟在中国,这是绝对不能碰、被认为危害性极大的毒品,在加拿大,居然可以当做香烟来抽?华裔最多的列治文,必然是这项决议最大的反对者。

Placeholder image

Andy指出:“我并不喜欢大麻,不希望列治文有太多的大麻店。尽管联邦政府早已将大麻合法化,但列治文市政府可以控制对大麻店发放从业许可的数量,让大麻店在列治文尽可能的少。对于现有的大麻店,更是需要严格管控,确保一切都合法合规。”

Andy还认为,尽管研究发现,大麻能起到镇痛作用,可以当做医疗用品,但对人的脑部损伤也是不容忽视的。科学家David Suzuki的一项调查指出:年轻人吸食大麻,有25%的概率会有脑损伤,严重的可能会导致精神分裂等等症状。所以,能远离大麻,请尽量远离。

华裔,为列治文抗疫做出杰出贡献



华裔群体是全球公认的抗疫标兵,中国的抗疫成绩足以证明这一切,而列治文也能够证明:列治文是大温第一波疫情结束最早、确诊率最低的城市,也是2021年前两个月确诊率最低的城市。

Placeholder image

Andy认为,列治文抗疫相对成功,是因为列治文新冠疫情出现的早、发现的早、重视的早、解决的早、并且在政府呼吁之前,大部分民众已经自觉戴上口罩、勤洗手、保持社交距离,自律程度之高令人叹服。

显然,作为华裔比例超过50%的城市,华人在列治文抗疫中功不可没:哪怕在BC省还没有病例时,部分华人在购物时已经自觉戴上口罩,为防止疫情扩散,华人还组织志愿者团队去机场接人、协助入境者居家隔离、并免费配送饭菜。

“如此一来,列治文的非华裔群体也会被华裔感化,积极投入抗疫”,Andy表示,“华裔起到了带动作用,让列治文的疫情始终处在可控范围内。

天车延伸到渔人码头?超大规模社区中心有无必要?堵车问题?



对于华人关心的交通、基础建设方面的问题,Andy也逐一做出了解答,首先是盛传的“Canada Line天车延伸到渔人码头区域”,Andy认为“近期基本没有可能。

原因很简单:渔人码头所属的Steveston社区还属于较低密度的社区,只有人口密度较高的区域才有通天车的必要,否则是资源浪费。有别的方式可以提升该区域的公共交通通勤效率,比如快速公交等等。

Placeholder image

在完成了耗资8000万的Minoru社区中心升级后,列治文市政府将会斥资9400万在10分钟车程外的Steveston社区也建设全新社区中心,也有民众抱怨“两个社区中心离得近,没有必都要花大价钱建造”,对此,Andy的看法是:

绝大多数列治文居民都会欢迎社区中心,因为这些社区中心的存在,让生活永远不会单调乏味,尽管它们很贵。如果观察过你会发现,列治文市中心的社区中心,要比大温其他城市的社区中心豪华的多。

对于堵车,尤其是Oak桥、Knight桥的堵车问题,Andy则认为“堵车是全大温面对的问题,相比而言,列治文已经表现的比较好,拥堵程度适中。

Placeholder image

但列治文依然会思考解决这个问题,比如加快推进Massey Tunnel改造是当务之急。此外,5号路和Steveston Highway之间的交通路口也需要改造。快速公共交通,比如快速巴士,也会加快建设,这样可以和已有的Canada Line配合,让列治文公共交通效率更高。新型的巴士,最好采用环保电车。

最后谈到的是中文标牌问题,Andy同样表示这不是一个大的问题:首先,列治文的商家很聪明,他们明白自己不只是为了华人服务,而是为整个列治文、为整个大温的所有族裔,只弄中文标牌是不科学、不合理的。

Placeholder image

事实上,只有极少部分商家没有设置英文标牌,不能以偏概全。Andy认为“我在列治文生活了50多年,从没有觉得中文标牌是困扰,毕竟华人比例是不能忽视的。”

“我深爱着列治文,这里是我唯一的家。在接下来的日子里,我仍会竭尽所能为列治文、为所有列治文居民服务”,Andy最后表示,“我希望大家能给我投票、能信任我,我一定会不负所望。”
Placeholder imageIn 2014, during Richmond’s last municipal election, Andy Hobbs missed out on a council seat by a little less than 600 votes. This time around, the former school trustee said he’s focusing on meeting as many individual voters as he can. “My strategy is I have to get more people to vote. I’m going to have to convince my wife and family to vote for me,” Hobbs told the Richmond News, laughing. More seriously, Hobbs said he believes his experience in the community is what makes him a strong candidate. “This is not my first rodeo. I am not somebody who has done no volunteer work, and nothing in the community and now I want to be on council,” Hobbs said, pointing to his experience on the school board, with the Richmond Community Foundation, Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society, Steveston Salmon Festival and the Richmond Hospital Foundation...
Placeholder image

192 neighbourhoods and almost half a million votes later, victory goes to the villagers Steveston residents already have a lot to brag about. The picturesque fishing village on the mouth of the Fraser River has two national historic sites, the largest fishing port in Canada, a popular boardwalk, and, as many locals have attested to, a friendly, small-town feel unlike most urban communities. Now the Richmond suburb has been crowned the winner in CBC's Search for Metro Vancouver's Best Neighbourhood, as determined by almost 500,000 votes cast during a six-week long contest that started with 192 neighbourhoods across the region. After whittling them down week by week, there were only two contenders for the title left in the ring — Vancouver's Mount Pleasant and Steveston. The latter won with 61 per cent of the public vote in the final round.




Placeholder image

Harold Steves, a Richmond city councillor, Steveston resident and descendent of one of the founding families of the neighbourhood, championed his community from the start of the standoff. "People who live here are proud of where they live and a lot of people like to come to Steveston because we retained its character," said Steves, adding much effort was put in at city council in the 1960s to designate part of the neighbourhood as a heritage zone to ensure the community kept its quaint charm.


Placeholder image

Steveston is essentially a classic suburb adjoining a fishing pier, with a main street that doubles as a storybook movie set, museums, waterfront parks and heritage markers in all directions. Two national historic sites — the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and the Britannia Shipyards — make it a popular destination for tourists.






Placeholder image

Mimi Horita, marketing and visitor services manager at the 126-year-old cannery, walks the boardwalk daily on her way to work and never tires of watching the fishing boats come and go, or spotting the flash of a salmon leaping from the river. "I have the ideal commute," said the 17-year-resident. In the early 1900s, the boardwalk was home to 15 canneries, supplied by fishermen from all over the world who flocked to the Fraser for salmon. Now, it is a popular promenade for locals and visitors alike. "To me, it is the is the most special part of Steveston," said Horita.


Placeholder image

Horita also loves the many annual community events, including the Richmond Maritime Festival, the Steveston Salmon Festival, and the cherry blossom celebrations in the spring. The blossom festival also reflects the rich Japanese history and culture of the community, something Horita, whose heritage is Japanese-Canadian, says makes her feel really comfortable living and working there. Kelvin Higo, who serves on the advisory committee with the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Steveston, says the neighbourhood is a prime example of how a place can benefit when people and groups living together can also work together.


Placeholder image

Before the Second World War, a large portion of Steveston's population was Japanese and worked in the fishing industry. Higo's own father and father-in-law both fished the Fraser's waters for many decades. During the war, Steveston was one of the epicentres of the Japanese evacuation and the population was forced into internment camps elsewhere in B.C. Many Japanese families returned to Steveston after the war and re-engaged in village activities. A Japanese association even provided funding in the 1950s to help build a community centre that everyone could enjoy.


Placeholder image

"We in Steveston have always prided ourselves on taking initiatives, having fundraisers and initiating our own ideas," said Higo. One of his personal favourite initiatives is the annual Santa Claus parade, which has been held every Christmas Eve for more than 40 years. To Higo, the small-town feel of the place really stands out during the holiday event, when locals dress up and celebrate in the streets together. "It comes down to the people," said Higo. "In the old days, I bet you could recognize 90 per cent of the people and you would never get anything done because you would keep running into someone."


Placeholder image

Sometimes that is still the case for Andy Hobbs, who has lived in Steveston for 25 years, raised his children there and is now watching his grandchildren grow up in the village too. On any given day, while strolling Moncton Street or running errands, Hobbs says he is likely to bump into someone he knows. "I just like the small town feel of it still," said Hobbs.


Placeholder image

He said not only is the village full of beautiful heritage buildings and parks, it is also a wonderful place to raise a family and there is enough economic activity that many people can actually work where they live. "It has a thriving little commercial area, all the amenities you need — you don't actually have to leave," said Hobbs.


Placeholder imageDear Editor, It’s common to hear the refrain about how much Richmond has changed. While change is constant, Richmond’s a wonderful place to live with many reminders of history including the Britannia National Historic Site, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, dairy farms in East Richmond, fishing boats, docks and the Steveston Harbour along the Fraser. Some of the most intriguing memories and feelings are stirred by sounds that I’ve heard in Richmond since I was a kid.

Recently, when I mentioned fog horns to a boat captain, he was a little reluctant to talk since he thought I was going to complain about the noise. I explained how much I enjoy the sound of fog horns. The sound can be nostalgic, mysterious, romantic, spooky and they’re a healthy signal of commerce along the Fraser. While we’re lounging or half asleep in our homes, the distant sound of a fog horns along the river reminds us of the ships and their crews finding their way safely home. Even in a high tech world of GPS and radar, fog horns pierce the foggy shroud, bringing ships safely up and down the Fraser.

On another fall morning, a distant popping sound from the south aroused the curiosity of a neighbour who asked me what I thought it was. Ever since I can remember, I’ve heard those sounds and I know it’s hunters, far to the south. My neighbour seemed genuinely surprised and I reassured them that it’s far away and seasonal. While I’m not a hunter, I know many who do hunt and the distant sounds of the duck hunt is second nature to my ears and definitely a reminder of something that was much more common than it is today. Early on those mornings, the sounds remind me of a centuries old ritual of hunters crouching silently, hidden, watching, with dogs by their sides waiting for the chance to retrieve.

Perhaps my favourite sounds are those from airplanes, and I confess to being a plane fan and watcher. Like many, I look up at almost any airplane that flies overhead whether it’s a modern wide body jet, a Cessna or a sea plane, turbine of loud piston, banking in over the No. 2 Road Bridge for a water landing on the Fraser. When I was a kid, there was only one main runway at YVR and the cross runway was used a lot more than today. The older jets, DC9s and DC8s, and propeller passenger planes, Vickers Viscounts, would pass over our house on Walton Road, low and loud, and every kid would watch with wide eyes, open mouths and curiosity. Nowadays, we hear complaints about airplane noise, and while YVR is very attentive to those concerns, more than once, I’ve been heard to say, the airport has been here a long time and Richmond benefits from it. You knew the airport was here, right?

While these sounds may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you can still kick back a little and enjoy the fog horns on the Fraser, hunters in the distant marshes and airplanes overhead. They’re all sounds that have deep historical roots in Richmond and although change is constant, these sounds have been around a long time!

Andy Hobbs RICHMOND


Placeholder imageThe Richmond Christmas Fund Army is a group of community and business leaders who believe that everyone deserves to share in the magic of the holiday season. And so each Army member does their part to support the Christmas Fund, whether by making a donation, running a toy drive, or putting on a fundraising event. Indeed, some of the most well-known and well-loved Christmas Fund events, such as Windows of Hope and Steveston Beer Fest, are organized by members of this ever-growing group.




Placeholder imageEach member of the Christmas Fund Army is a volunteer, including the group's Co-Chairs, Wayne Duzita, Rob Howard, and Michael Chiu. That part's important, and if you ask us, pretty inspiring. Because the hours they put in? Let's just say it's a jaw-dropping number. But the time they spend raising money, raising awareness - they know it's worth it. They know it makes a difference to hundreds of families every year. They know that, because of their efforts, the Christmas Fund will be part of the community for a long time to come, helping to brighten the holidays for families in need.
Placeholder image

Police remove tape from the scene of a shooting in Steveston Community Park. The shooting, which left one man dead, is believed to be targeted and gang-related.Eve Edmonds/Richmond News


Dear Editor,

As a kid, riding my horse and bailing hay in the fields along Westminster Highway, I remember the towering Richmond Hospital as the only building more than three storeys. Over the past 50 years, the hospital and staff have been there for our family through illness, emergencies, operations, deaths and births. We’ve always needed it, and now, it needs all of us.

The provincial government, Richmond MLAs and candidates, need to make binding commitments to invest, now, in our community and dedicate funding for a new Richmond Hospital north tower.

Richmond Hospital is critical infrastructure just like a bridge, a firehall or a police station. In a disaster, natural or human-caused, a hospital quickly becomes a vital epicentre for successfully managing the crisis. The Richmond Hospital tower, regardless of the dedication of staff, is long past its expiration date. The replacement of the tower is necessary for several reasons, including patient capacity, modernity and meeting current seismic standards. More so, the tower merits replacement to ensure public safety.

Even in the case of a moderate earthquake, the hospital, including up to 108 beds and eight operating rooms, is at extreme risk with some key assets below the flood plain. Operating rooms, built to outdated standards, are far too small to accommodate modern, state-of-the-art equipment and Richmond has a very low ratio of beds per population (about one per 1,000 people).

A further sign of the tower’s inadequacy is in the few amount of single rooms. Single rooms are very important in controlling infections and limiting the spread of infections. Richmond Hospital has about 10 per cent single rooms, whereas the effective, modern standard is 80 per cent.

Furthermore, overall, the old tower has an 80 per cent fail rate in terms of a major systems analysis.

In the 1960s, Richmond had about 60,000 residents and the “new” hospital had about 132 beds. Now, with more than 200,000 residents, our old and outdated hospital has 233 beds.

Richmond’s population will continue to grow to approximately 250,000 by 2030, and the senior population, with the longest life expectancy (85) in Canada, is forecasted to be 65,000.

It’s been 20 years since the need for a Richmond Hospital tower replacement was first identified.

In terms of prioritizing infrastructure capital spending, the provincial government has to match Richmond’s community leadership, which has already raised a very significant percentage of the total cost.

Support Richmond Hospital and contact your MLA, all candidates and the provincial government.

The time for a new Richmond Hospital is now!

Andy Hobbs
Richmond
Placeholder image

A man is in hospital after being shot while sitting in his car in a quiet Richmond street



Dear Editor,

Two shootings, two dead bodies — one in the heart of Steveston Village, another in City Centre.

Gang violence presents a clear and present danger to public safety in Richmond and Metro Vancouver. Too many times we have heard about innocent bystanders who were hurt or killed because they happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” when gangsters’ bullets were flying.

While there is no doubt that police agencies throughout Metro Vancouver are working hard to solve the recent homicides, including in our own public spaces, it is time to acknowledge that a gang war is raging.

I served over 35 years in law enforcement. In that time, I led the establishment of what became the VPD’s Uniform Gang Task Force. I saw first hand how to fight gang crime.

One tactic we used in Vancouver was disrupting gangsters where they socialized, whether that was a club, a gym or a restaurant. We made life hell for them, arresting them for even minor offences.

We sent a clear message — we see you, we’re watching you, we’re coming for you.

City council has a role to play in putting down the gang war too — they and the provincial government can do this by supporting police through budgets. Richmond city council must ensure that our local RCMP detachment has the support and the resources it needs to combat growing gang violence.

City council can also support efforts to make gang violence a top priority for B.C.’s solicitor general and consider potential legal solutions to assist police and keep the community safe.

Council can back programs aimed at keeping young people out of gang life — programs that work by focusing on prevention, and bringing stakeholders like schools and parents into the conversation.

Gangsters do not care about public safety; violence is their currency and they don’t care who gets in their way. Even as shootings target gang members, the public is always at risk. Gangsters murder witnesses and kill innocent people because they’re driving a car that looks like one of their targets.

City council must make community safety a top priority. They must uphold the rights of law-abiding residents to feel safe walking through our parks or down No. 3 Road. A coordinated, comprehensive approach is needed to ensure the roots of gang violence are pulled from our city. The work starts by ensuring council ensures the tools are in place to make it happen.

Andy Hobbs

Candidate for

Richmond city council
Placeholder image

Empty homes and farms being sat on for speculative purposes, says candidates



By Graeme Wood

The issue of foreign homeowners and land speculators has taken a more upfront seat in the latter half of election campaigning. Many believe foreign investment is helping drive up land costs in Metro Vancouver.

Independent city council candidate Dave Semple, a former city parks manager, said in a news release that farmland is being bought up by “offshore speculators” and it’s harming Richmond’s ability to produce safe, local food, vital to the region’s food security.

The issue is something Dr. Kent Mullinix, director of the Institute of Sustainable Food Systems, has called a “huge economic and policy contradiction” throughout all levels of government.

“Investing in agriculture is code for sinking your hoarded wealth in agriculture land.

“That’s one of the reasons our agricultural land is worth a million dollars an acre,” said Mullinix, who notes conversation on the subject gets unfairly “equated with bigotry.”

“There’s no agriculture that can service that level of debt. Then we wonder why it doesn’t get used and then gets developed?” asked Mullinix.

Last week Richmond First candidate Andy Hobbs said land speculation and Port Metro Vancouver are the “two biggest threats” to farmland in Richmond. He didn’t indicate the problem was specifically from foreign investment.

“What council can do about that is have constructive working relationships with all levels of government,” said Hobbs of farmland speculation.

“We have to send a loud, clear message to speculators that it will be when hell freezes over when that land comes out of the ALR,” he added.

Meanwhile RITE Richmond candidates Michael Wolfe and Carol Day are advocating for a “vacancy tax” and/or a foreign ownership tax for homeowners who don’t make Richmond their primary residence.

As part of its platform targeting improved housing affordability, RITE states on its website that it wants to “instruct staff to research the possibility of a foreign ownership tax and see if this would be a federal-only or provincial-only option. Once this information is available to the city, decide whether lobbying the (B.C.) or federal government for changes would be prudent.”

Independent candidate Janos Bergman noted in a news release he wants to lobby all levels of government “for laws and/or bylaws that will prevent non-residents/foreigners from buying multiple residential properties for investment purposes.”

He says this is done in other countries and not doing so is part of the reason why housing prices are so high in Richmond

— Graeme Wood/Richmond News
Placeholder image

Andy Hobbs thinks Richmond residents have suffered enough in 2020 without more financial hardship in 2021



Open letter to city council,

As city council looks forward to 2021 and establishes next year’s budget, it’s important to keep in mind that 2020 has been a difficult year for many folks who live and work in Richmond.

A large number of people have been laid off or have had their hours reduced. Their incomes are down and their finances are stretched. They are stressed, nervous, and anxious for what lies ahead — especially with the second wave of COVID-19 well underway.

I would strongly encourage the mayor and council to freeze taxes for 2021. Rather than raising taxes, they could dip into our reserve fund, our collective “savings account,” in order to fund operations and hire additional police and fire personnel.

By doing this, we should not need to increase taxes for 2021 and we can maintain all our core services.

While I appreciate sound fiscal management, 2021 is not the time to burden the residents of Richmond with a tax increase.

We need to give people time to get back on their feet. A tax increase will be an extra burden on homeowners as well as on small business and renters — whose landlords will pass on the added taxes to them in future rent increases.

Savings accounts and reserves are set aside during good times for use when times are bad. Now is the time to take a relatively small portion from our city’s unrestricted reserves and use it to offset a property tax increase. We can replenish it when times are better for everyone.

Andy Hobbs

Intersection cameras could give police more information about crimes, says candidate


Placeholder image
City council needs to show it’s behind the RCMP especially given the on-going gang warfare, says one Richmond city council candidate.

With an increase of violence between rival gangs on display on the streets — including Sunday’s daylight shooting at YVR — Andy Hobbs, a former VPD superintendent who is running in the May 29 byelection, thinks it’s time for municipal leaders to show they support the Richmond RCMP.

“One of the first things (council) can do is provide the leadership and support for the local RCMP detachment to refocus its priorities at this time, because there is a gang war going on and it’s an immediate crisis to protect the public from these gangsters, murders and shootings and random bullets flying around,” Hobbs said.

Council has to be clear they are backing police with all the resources they have available, he added.

Given the spate in violence, police need to focus on suppressing violence, interdicting — for example, seizing firearms — and prevention, including education in schools.

Gang crime goes in cycles, but Hobbs said underlying the behaviour is a narcissistic attitude and disregard for other people’s well-being.

“They don’t care about anybody but themselves,” Hobbs said. “They care about their money, they care about their drugs, they care about their turf and they also care about their image and their machismo and their mistaken belief what a strong person or a strong man behaves like.”

To help police investigate crimes, Hobbs would also like to see the city lobby the province to allow recently installed intersection cameras to identify faces and licence plates, which are currently blurred as mandated by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).

When the cameras were approved by council, the primary purpose was “traffic management and road safety” and would be used to find solutions to traffic volume, speed, crashes and other “traffic safety related factors.”

The OIPC also said the information needed to be managed by the city and not the police and that licence plates and individuals’ faces couldn’t be identified.

The 110 closed-circuit cameras that have been installed over the past few months have been programmed to blur out faces and licence plates.

Hobbs said he would like to work with the privacy commissioner to allow the cameras to give clear images to be used by law enforcement, when needed, for example, when someone is fleeing a crime or there’s a kidnapping.

But, he said, there should be a “layered approach” to using the data, whereby the cameras are controlled by the city’s FOI officer or a judge and police need to have reasonable, probable grounds in the public interest, like in the YVR shooting.

But as the cameras are set up now with intentional poor resolution, they don’t reveal any useful data, Hobbs added, saying he doesn’t see the point of having intersection cameras without clear images to identify those who commit crimes.

While he acknowledges the city’s intersection cameras need oversight, he said most people’s privacy is already “severely curtailed” by dashcams, business surveillance cameras and cameras on SkyTrain and the Canada Line.

Furthermore, he added, anyone can film or record another person with their phone in a public place.

“The right to privacy in a public area is not absolute in any way, shape or form,” Hobbs said.
Placeholder image

Interview with Andy

Placeholder image

Hobbs to Run

Placeholder image

Running in By-election