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Looking back on 2021, part two

By Don Fennell and Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 10:38 PST, Tue January 4, 2022

Last Updated: 10:40 PST, Tue January 4, 2022

2021: The Year in Review

APRIL

Fresh produce makes way to food bank

Despite making changes to its instructional format during the pandemic, the sustainable agriculture program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University continues to give back via food donations to the Richmond Food Bank.

“Obviously we don’t want to see food going to waste, so we’re harvesting weekly,” said faculty member Mike Bomford. “Anything that isn’t sold at the local farmer’s market is brought to the food bank.” 

The food bank’s executive director Hajira Hussain said it was essential to have produce that could keep well in the pre-packed hampers that have become the norm during the pandemic.

The donations are part of a bid to make locally grown food available where it’s produced. In 2020, the department of sustainable agriculture donated $42,000 worth of produce to the food bank. 


Richmond-Opoly new game in town

For those who’ve ever imagined life as a real estate tycoon, here’s your chance. Based on Monopoly, the best-selling game of all time, Richmond-Opoly gives players the opportunity to dabble in the market while celebrating many of the great and unique things about our community. 

“I think it provides a little escapism while being a great activity for families that is fun and social, something we don’t do a lot these days with people stuck on their phones or computers or watching TV,” said JeanPaul Teskey, senior vice president of Outset Media, the Canadian company that created the game. 

Available exclusively at Richmond Walmart or online at walmart.ca, the board game is the result of a partnership between the retailer and the Victoria-based games maker. 

“Walmart came to us, because they knew we had the rights to opoly-style games, and said it would be great if we could develop a line of games celebrating communities across Canada,” Teskey said.


Urgent and primary care centre opens

Richmond residents now have more access to health care, following the April 1 opening of a new urgent and primary care centre. Located in the Community Health Access Centre at 7671 Alderbridge Way, it is open weekday evenings from 5 to 10 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays and statutory holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

A multidisciplinary team of 10.5 full-time equivalent health-care workers, including general practitioners and registered nurses, deliver urgent primary care services to people who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours but do not require a trip to the emergency department. The Richmond centre will also connect patients to mental health and social work services in the community. 


Take a bow, Farouq

Farouq Manji is tireless in every sense of the word. For more than three decades the Richmond resident has provided voluntary service to the Ismaili Muslim community in the Lower Mainland, working alongside internal and external stakeholders to further the community and its relationship with residents. His efforts were recognized by the province last spring as one of 14 individuals receiving the Medal of Good Citizenship for their outstanding service and commitment to helping others.

"This important honour recognizes people who have gone above and beyond to offer help and kindness to others during these exceptionally challenging times," said Premier John Horgan.


Ms. Rogers’ neighbourhood

It was a Saturday that Camryn Rogers won’t soon forget—one that earned the Richmond hammer thrower a trip to the Olympic Games.

On April 17 at the West Coast Classic in Eugene, Ore. (a community long one of the most appreciative of track and field dating back to the introduction the Oregon Relays), the McMath Secondary grad achieved the Olympic standard in the women’s hammer throw with a throw of 73.09 metres and lifted the University of California, Berkeley senior to No. 4 all-time in the NCAA. 

Later, in a late Olympic tune-up, she threw 75.52 metres to win her second straight NCAA women’s hammer throw title. The mark was top-four in the world.

One of five Richmond athletes named to the Canadian Olympic Team for this summer’s Games in Tokyo (the others being race walker Evan Dunfee, fencers Shaul Gordon and Eli Schenkel, and table tennis player Mo Zhang), Rogers capped her competitive season with a Canadian Olympic record throw of 74.35 metres at the Tokyo Games in July to place fifth overall.


MAY

Teen activist speaks up for anti-racism policy

Teen activist Naomi Leung advocated last spring for a stronger anti-racism policy in Richmond.

“I’m choosing to speak up against racism and the urgent need for anti-racist policy in Richmond because I recently celebrated the birthday of my 78-year-old grandma amidst staggering anti-Asian hate crimes rising,” said Leung.

A 17-year-old whose parents immigrated from Malaysia and Hong Kong, the Grade 12 student at Richmond Christian School addressed council alongside fellow community activist Karina Reid. Leung also works with regionally-based Sustainabiliteens, and in a public video shared to social media explained that anti-Asian hate crimes are experiencing massive growth, which has made her “scared for my family, friends and community.” 

Numerous incidents suggest a possible growing trend of racially-motivated incidents in Richmond, according to local police who quickly denounced it.

“Hate has no place in our community. I want to reassure the public that any investigation with potential hate motivated undertones will be given our fullest attention and oversight,” said Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng. 

Police received seven reports of incidents involving apparent racial undertones in March, with three of these still under investigation as hate crimes. They involved allegations that hate is a motivating factor during the commission of criminal offences. The RCMP said that the victims are of various ethnicities. 


Smile, you’re on camera

Reflecting its strong focus on safety, the City of Richmond introduced in May intersection video cameras on many of its major streets. In total, 110 intersections will feature the cameras. 

“Having video cameras at over half of Richmond’s intersections is an important road safety and traffic management initiative that will positively impact road users in Richmond,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “By providing the city more accurate data, traffic planning to increase safety and potentially mitigate vehicle congestion will increase. The cameras will also enhance community safety as camera footage will be available for up to 30 days, to assist in vehicle-related incidents.” 


Chamber introduces new president

Dan Baxter was introduced in May as the new president and chief executive officer of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

“I am honoured and excited to lead the Richmond Chamber of Commerce during these challenging times,” said Baxter. “The pandemic has impacted communities and businesses, but together we will navigate our way through. The Richmond chamber has been at the forefront responding to and supporting Richmond businesses through COVID-19. As those businesses continue to build their resiliency, re-open, and, hopefully, look beyond the pandemic, I look forward to working with the chamber team to ensure the Richmond business community is best positioned to get on a lasting road to recovery.”

Baxter had served as the BC Chamber of Commerce’s director of policy development, government and stakeholder relations since 2013. 


Lee honoured as a Guiding force

Maria Lee describes her long-time work with Girl Guides of Canada as being part of a family. 

Richmond resident Lee became involved with the organization when her daughter was a member. After helping as a parent, she was convinced to become a leader, and even after her daughter finished the program and left the organization, Lee stuck around. This spring, she was among some 100 Canadians to receive the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, recognizing her years of dedication to the Girl Guides organization. 


No days off for this Bhullar

Unlike the character with the similar sounding name in a 1980s cult film, there are no “days off” for Arjan Singh Bhullar.

Born the same year—1986—that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off debuted on the big screen, the dedicated Richmond fighter endured a steady stream of blood, sweat and tears on his ascent to the mixed martial arts ONE Heavyweight World Championship. He was awarded the title on May 15, two days after his 35th birthday, reaching the apex of his training with a second-round technical knockout (TKO) of Brandon Vera in Kallang, Singapore. The fight was originally set to take place last May but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m humbled by the love and support from the world,” Bhullar tweeted. “As my inner circle knows this camp we were tested more than in any other, yet the faith and belief held firm. When something is meant to be nobody and nothing can stop it from happening. I love you all. God has been great.”


Hobbs wins by-election

Andy Hobbs has dedicated his life to serving others. And now the long-time community volunteer can add city councillor to his resume. 

A Richmond High grad, the retired Vancouver police superintendent and former two-term Richmond School Board trustee won the May 29 civic by-election with 3,095 votes to replace Kelly Greene as a member of the municipal council. Greene gave up her seat after winning the Richmond–Steveston riding in the 2020 provincial election. Asked by the Richmond Sentinel what he considered to be the biggest priority for Richmond in the next year, Hobbs said “the city must make sure that it implements policies that help support small business so that jobs are protected and families’ incomes are secure.”

The estimated cost of the by-election was $716,504, higher than the 2018 general election mainly because of a mail-in voting provision.


Palmer band best in the land

It’s often been said that music is the true universal language, its roots extending to every culture in the world. Through the challenges of COVID-19, music has also provided opportunities to express ourselves and to unite as one. Embracing the gift, members of Richmond’s R.C. Palmer Concert Band shared their talents to earn top marks in the 2021 National Music Festival Competition. 

“It’s more than just the music. It’s an experience for everyone involved,” said Grade 12 student Brandon Young, adding that being forced to deal with everything the pandemic has presented, and persevere, “shows that there is still a real passion for music here.”


JUNE

Celebrating seniors

The City of Richmond celebrated and acknowledged the resilience, strength and diversity of seniors aged 55-plus during Seniors Week, June 7 to 13. To help seniors stay connected and engaged, the city, community associations and societies, as well as other community-based organizations offered over 20 online and phone-in activities.

“We acknowledge the important role seniors play in our lives and their value to the community,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. 


Food bank photo gets national nod

A photograph from the Richmond Food Bank Society earned third-place honours in the 2021 National Volunteer Week Photo Contest sponsored by Volunteer BC. The photo shows volunteer and board member Dave packing hampers of nutritious food at the Richmond Food Bank, demonstrating that despite the pandemic, volunteers continued to deliver essential services.


Students singled out for scholarships

After receiving nearly 140 applications, the Richmond Community Foundation announced the winners of its 2021 high school scholarships. In all, the Foundation awarded over $25,000, presenting scholarships to 36 Richmond students. Among the recipients is Ahmad Mustafa, a Richmond Secondary School student who plans to pursue a career in engineering. He’s one of four winners of the Derek Dang and Dr. Margaret Yeung Scholarship. 

“I was thrilled, motivated, and proud to be acknowledged as a recipient,” said Mustafa.

The Kronier Family Scholarship, one of the foundation’s largest, supports multiple students annually. This year, there were 21 recipients, including Wesley Yiu, who attends Steveston-London secondary.

“This award will greatly help me pursue my passions in commerce and law,” said Yiu. “I look forward to using what I learn from my academic and community experiences to give back to the community.”


In fond farewell, Lim gets top marks from peers

Pulling into the parking lot at J.N. Burnett Secondary in her 1983 Trans Am, Wendy Lim made quite a first impression. But it pales in comparison to the impact she had over the next 37 years as a public educator. In a single word: “inspiring.” 

As a teacher, and later administrator at the district level, her presence was felt everywhere, and by everyone she met. Armed with an infectious enthusiasm for learning, she soaked up every opportunity, and just as comfortably passed on a belief that anything was possible. Lim retired last June from the Richmond School District—but only to begin a new chapter in her life that will be filled with the same energy and impact. She plans to continue her daily two-hour walks and to create a family cookbook, is keen to learn to play the ukulele, go sailing, and volunteer. And, of course, spend more time with her family. 


Troy’s time to shine

Troy Stecher had worn the maple leaf twice before, at the World Hockey Championships in 2019, and at the World Junior A Challenge in 2011. But the 2021 World Hockey Championships in Riga, Latvia in June was his shining moment. The 27-year-old from Richmond set up Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane with the winning goal at 2:12 of overtime to lift Canada to a 2-1 upset of the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) team in the tournament’s quarter-finals. The Detroit Red Wings defenceman, and former Vancouver Canuck, made a spectacular play to get by a defender before passing to Mangiapane for the winning goal. 


City scores high for life satisfaction

Richmond ranked fifth among Canadian cities for life satisfaction according to an international real estate search portal. The Point 2 report ranked the 85 largest Canadian cities by looking at nine criteria deemed important for millennials including home prices, income, and well-being. Although the city fared poorly when it comes to home prices (70th), it still ranked 25th overall on the list, a significant move up of 12 spots from 37th in Point 2’s report in 2018. 

The 2021 report notes the oldest millennials are turning 40 this year and suggests that “while affordable housing, reliable incomes and good healthcare are mainstays, factors such as life satisfaction and climate might also start becoming more important for those millennials who are looking for the ideal place to call home.” 

Aside from income and housing, areas such as crime rate, healthcare, level of education and the percentage of millennials among the total population were also considered.


Riders flock to new bike park

The much anticipated Railway Granville Bike Park is now a reality. Located at 5000 Granville Ave., the park opened June 18, just in time to be explored all summer long. The 0.2 hectare (0.5 acre) park was built with community input provided through the LetsTalkRichmond.ca consultation process. The resulting final design that was built on site incorporates many of the comments received. Key features of the bike park include an asphalt pump track with beginner, intermediate and advanced ride lines, log rides, several ladder bridges and other technical obstacles. A map of the park noting the difficulty rating of each pump track, ride-line and technical obstacle is located at each of the two entry points. 


Artists acknowledged

The City of Richmond and the Richmond Arts Coalition announced the six recipients of the 13th annual Richmond Arts Awards. The awards recognize Richmond residents, artists, business leaders, educators and change-makers for their achievements and contributions to the arts community. 

“In the past year, the arts have helped us cope with our separation by bringing us together in creative ways,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “Despite the challenges artists have faced, these recipients demonstrated resourcefulness, tenacity and passion for their community and deserve the recognition they are receiving with this award.” 

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