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Brodie looking forward with optimism in annual address

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 2:42 PST, Wed February 24, 2021

In his annual address today, Mayor Malcolm Brodie reflected on the challenges of 2020 and looked ahead with optimism.

A year ago, Richmond had a promising future and was celebrating a number of business successes, as well as recognizing the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. But COVID-19 was a “looming dark cloud” at that time.

“Because so many in Richmond remembered SARS, as early as Lunar New Year in January more people began to avoid large crowds and voluntarily wore face masks,” said Brodie.

During that time, city council made unprecedented decisions including declaring an emergency, closing city hall, and reducing last year’s property tax increase by more than two per cent. Beloved events including the Steveston Salmon Festival had to be cancelled or move online. But people still wanted to find ways to connect.

“The #RichmondHasHeart campaign built community spirit and brought people together with community-based stories of encouragement,” said Brodie.

Despite the challenges of the year, some positive things happened: Richmond is now home to six film studios, Brodie said, and has approved nearly 80 film permits. The city will soon build a new animal shelter. Upgrades took place on the recycling depot, and other facilities including the Steveston Community Centre and lawn bowling facility will soon be replaced. Construction is scheduled for the new Capstan Canada Line station, a new park on Lansdowne Road, and the Pathways Clubhouse 80-unit affordable housing building.

Brodie also pointed to some individual companies’ successful pivots: Layfield Group began making N95 masks, Platinum Pro-Claim made sure protective equipment got to healthcare workers, and Lulu Island Winery manufactured hand sanitizer when it was in need.

“Though many challenges remain, we hope that the worst of the pandemic-driven destruction is in our past,” said Brodie.

He said he looks forward to the resolution of the Massey Tunnel replacement, the finalization of the ban on single-use plastics and the construction of the outdated hospital facility. And, ultimately, he hopes to be able to attend events again.

“Prior to the pandemic we were going to all the events, or as many as we could fit in. There’s a social aspect to that as well,” he said. “I think that social aspect, and trying to get things back to normal, at this point seems so magical.”

He recognized the leadership of city council, as well as the management of staff and support of Richmond’s volunteers, businesses and residents. And he expressed hope that next year will be a much different situation in Richmond and beyond.

“This year, the subtext (of the annual address) was ‘if it doesn’t kill you it’ll make you strong.’ Looking forward to next year, I hope it will be—at minimum—‘we see the light at the end of the tunnel.’ We will look ahead and say, it didn’t kill us and we’re getting over this.”

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