(Video) Richmond News all-candidates debate: Richmond South Centre

After 29 years in office, BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid stepped down from her Richmond South Centre office, leaving a gap that candidates Henry Yao (BC NDP) and Alexa Loo (BC Liberals) are now vying to fill in the upcoming provincial election.

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Richmond South Centre is one of Richmond’s newest electoral districts, carved out of three other ridings in 2017.

In the candidate debate hosted by the Richmond News, Loo and Yao debated the Massey Crossing, healthcare/Richmond Hospital, housing and answered questions from News' readers on topics such as strata insurance and the arts.

According to a report by the B.C. Financial Services Authority, strata insurance premiums have risen an average of 40 per cent across B.C., and 50 per cent in Metro Vancouver, over the past year.

Yao said the NDP is working to lower strata insurance premiums.

 “We have actually closed the loopholes in strata insurance policies,” he added.

Loo agreed that “skyrocketing” strata insurance needs to be controlled but added, a rent freeze – such as the BC NDP has promised – is also a problem.

“If you know that you have skyrocketing strata insurance fees, and that you can’t then raise the rent to your renter, how do you as the owner be able to afford to rent your property to anybody else?” she said.

In response to a reader’s question about supporting the arts sector, Loo said a BC Liberal government would work with stakeholders to figure out the best way forward.

“I think there is the opportunity to create grants and programs for the arts and culture groups,” she said.

Yao, however, pointed out that the previous Liberal government cut arts funding. If elected, he said he would fight for the sector.

“I will try my best to reignite art services, and the opportunities for artists to express themselves.”

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