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The decade ahead: Local leaders share their visions for 2020 and beyond

By Don Fennell

Published 4:12 PST, Wed January 8, 2020

As Richmond enters a new year and decade, a sense of hope fills the air.

There will be challenges, of course, but opportunities too as a community built on co-operation continues to grow and evolve.

One issue that will continue to be front and centre locally is also a global priority: recognizing climate change and the environment. 

As a city, Richmond is already taking action. Richmond is believed to be the first city in North America to implement an electric vehicle infrastructure requirement, an initiative that was recognized in 2019 with a Climate and Energy Action Award from the Community Energy Association.

In 2017, Richmond became the first municipality to enact a policy requiring that 100 per cent of new resident parking spaces be equipped with Level 2 electric vehicle charing capacity, featuring a 208-240 volt outlet at each parking stall. This requirement was introduced to help the city achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging more sustainable transportation options.

With the dawn of 2020, Mayor Malcolm Brodie again stressed the importance of the issue.

“I think we all feel the urgency of more action in terms of climate protection and the environment,” he says. “We’ve heard the warnings long and loud that we have to do more…with the ultimate objective of improving the planet.”

Brodie expects that this is going to be a dynamic year in Richmond, and will likely include the introduction of ride hailing.

“That will put more cars on the road and affect the use of transit,” he says. “Those are challenges we’re going to have to address.”

Housing, particularly affordable housing, will also continue to be a priority. Brodie says he’d like to think the city has done a reasonable job addressing the issue to this point, but says the challenge is only increasing.

The Richmond Sentinel also reached out to other community leaders to share their hopes and expectations for 2020 and the decade ahead.

Dave Frank: Richmond Community Foundation

Entering a new decade, the thoughts of Dave Frank, president of the Richmond Community Foundation and also executive director of the BC Aviation Council, revolve around local youth who will form the basis of the community’s future. His hope, and priority, is to help ensure there are enough scholarship funds available to encourage and support their dreams after high school.

“That’s where our future lies,” he says.

Natalie Meixner: Richmond Hospital Foundation

Natalie Meixner, president and CEO of the Richmond Hospital Foundation, says she is excited to know Richmond will be getting a new hospital. 

“It’s been a long time in the works and (it’s rewarding to know) that so many people made it possible,” she says. “One of the things I love about Richmond is its harmony. Important projects like this bring people together and that benefits everybody.”

Meixner is optimistic the next decade will bring increased and better access to “great health care,” both for the people who call Richmond home and who work here.

“Innovation in health care will be a big part of the future, enabled by technology,” she says. “(These advances) will have tremendous local and global impact and Richmond will be there.”

Ken Hamaguchi: Richmond School Board

Richmond School Board chair Ken Hamaguchi says his immediate hope and expectation is that the government and the BCTF (BC Teachers’ Federation) come up with a fair agreement that allows all parties to move forward and return all our energy and focus back on students and classrooms. 

“We also hope/expect that the government continues their financial support in helping with our seismic upgrade projects and building new playgrounds,” he says. “As we implement our Long Range Facility Plan, I hope that our students, parents, staff and stakeholders participate in the process by giving us their feedback (i.e. sharing their approval and/or concerns).”

Hamaguchi notes the board has also begun the process of updating the district's Strategic Plan.

“We are most excited about this and are looking forward to hearing everyone's ideas and opinions. And finally, I hope that everyone has a great 2020 and that our district will keep moving towards our vision of being ‘the best place to learn and lead.’”

Kaye Liao Banez: Richmond children’s author

Local author Kaye Liao Banez’s focus is also on the future generation, both in terms of today and tomorrow. Her biggest hope is that the school system—public schools and independent private schools—provides adequate support to students with diverse needs.

“There is still a shortage of support, such as not having enough educational assistants in each school who need one-on-one support,” Banez explains. “I am also hoping that the schools invest more on adequate training to teachers and EAs about how to provide appropriate support for children with different needs. For example, investing in professional development for teachers and EAs on evidence-based strategies on supporting children with autism, as the rate in B.C. is now one in 46 children over six years old.”

Banez also hopes to see more companies embrace the concept, and practice inclusive hiring and support for employees with diverse abilities.

Igor Gantsevich: Dynamo Fencing Club

As the fledgling Dynamo Fencing Club enters its third decade based in Richmond, its president and former Pan American medallist Igor Gantsevich continues to promote his sport with abundant energy. His ultimate goal is to help deliver Canada’s first fencing medal by the 2024 Olympic Games and continue to advance the sport beyond then.

“For Tokyo 2020, we have a number of club athletes eligible to qualify for the (Olympic) Games,” Gantsevich says. “Most notable is Richmond’s Shaul Gordon, who is ranked in the top 20 in the world rankings and was a finalist at the 2019 world championships.”

Aside from working to help the club’s high performance athletes realize their dreams, Gantsevich says Dynamo is also focused on building fencing at the grassroots level.

“High performance isn’t for everyone, but doing an amazing sport for the mind and body is definitely for anyone,” he says. “We want to continue to help young children become the best human beings they can be. We are so proud of all the athletes who have come through our doors over the years and have become successful young people in our community.”

Camryn Rogers: Richmond athlete

When it comes to Richmond’s future, one of its most prominent athletes has given the topic a lot of thought.

Camryn Rogers is currently a student athlete at the University of California at Berkeley and the 2019 NCAA national women’s hammer throw champion. The Richmond Kajaks Track and Field product says it’s the people that make our community unique and why its future is so promising.

“People are the backbone of every great city. Those here are what make Richmond so special,” she says.

A graduate of Richmond’s McMath Secondary School, Rogers is in her junior year at the University of California at Berkeley. She is following in the footsteps of another prominent Kajaks alumni and Canadian track and field star Jennifer Joyce who also starred in the hammer event.

“It’s an honour to talk about our beautiful home,” says Rogers, who always looks forward to an opportunity to come back home.

“There is such a system of support here that I can only image it will continue to grow in the next decade,” she continues. “Development in Richmond will foster more opportunity as well, especially for kids, as long as it’s done in the right way. It’s all about community creating a better home for all.”

John Young: Forever Young Club

A lifelong learner and dedicated promoter of fitness for all ages, John Young is perhaps best known as co-ordinator of the Forever Young Club for seniors and founder of the annual Forever Young 8k race held each September in Richmond. Reflecting back over the past 10 years, he says we can confidently say that Richmond has changed considerably—a pattern that will continue over the coming decade.

Focused on two points—healthy aging and a healthy community—Young says “those in our senior years must try to be active for a minimum of 150 minutes per week.”

“As they say, ‘If you’re movin’ you’re improvin.’ Find a partner or a group and make a regular fitness schedule and set simple goals to achieve. As Richmond’s population ages I hope to see more seniors commit to healthy aging.”

Continues Young: “Like many neighbourhoods in Richmond, my wife and I organize a Block BBQ with everyone invited, and asked to bring a dish to the party. And what a diverse and delicious feast we have. We introduce everyone, wear name tags, mix and mingle, and always have a good time as we get to know each other.

At Christmas, we do it all again with a neighbourhood tea at our home. Now, we can greet each other with a friendly wave and call each neighbour by name. 

No matter what corner of the world you are from, it is amazing how this has created a healthy community on our street. In the next 10 years, I hope that healthy seniors and healthy communities will continue to make Richmond a great place to live.”

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