Where Richmond candidates stand on key issues

One  of  the  biggest  challenges  for  voters  in  a  civic  election  with  a  total  of  62  candidates  running  for  everything  from  mayor,  council  and  school  trustee  is  determining  just  where  candidates  stand  on  various  issues.  To that end,  the  Richmond  News  has  asked  our  six  mayoral  and  26  council  candidates  20  yes-or-no  questions.

Our  belief  is  that  while  candidates  may  pledge  support  for  business,  the  environment,  transportation,  development  and  agriculture,  ultimately  they  are  going  to  have  to  come  down  on  one  side  or  the  other  on  some  very  specific  questions.

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The  purpose  of  this  exercise  is  to  help  residents  see  how  candidates  would  vote  on  some  of  those  questions,  enabling  voters  to  better  understand  which  candidates  best  represent  their  values  and  vision  for  Richmond.

That  said,  we  understand  some  of  these  issues  are  complex  and  require  elaboration,  so  we  have  asked  the  candidates  to  also  choose  one  of  those  questions  and  briefly  elaborate.  Those replies are  marked  with  an  *.  Also,  where  candidates  did  not  give  a  clear  yes/no  answer,  we  put an “NR” for “no response.”

Here are the 20 questions and the elaborated responses. Not all candidates chose a question to expand upon.

20 questions
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Malcolm Brodie – Mayoral candidate

Q: Do you support Temporary Modular Housing in residential areas.

A: No. I supported TMH in a residential area – only one is planned, not more.  Permanent solution is needed and that is being studied.  It must not cause problems for nearby neighbours.

Donald Flintoff – Mayoral candidate

I respectively decline to respond to some questions as I would be pre-judging the issues in advance of knowing the facts and hearing the public input. Some of these questions cannot be answered with a simple yes/no response. My feelings at the moment are the citizens need to have their say on these matters and the facts presented to them and Council decides based on this.

Roy Sakata – Mayoral candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

A: Yes. For recreational consumption, only Government of B.C. such as our liquor distribution. Of course the medical option will be made available through our drug store chains. Recreational cannabis for independent stores will be considered after a two year trail period with the B.C government stores. Independent store owners will be vetted via an application process.

Adil Awan – Council candidate

Q: Should city councillors be allowed to personally invest in Richmond properties?

A: No. Either you are working for the citizens of Richmond or you are working for yourself.  We cannot have a conflict of interest when councillors are making decisions on the behalf of the citizens.

Chak Au – Council candidate

Q: Should the 10,763-square-foot limit on home sizes on the ALR be decreased?  

A: A qualified "yes." While my gut feeling is 10,763 sq. ft. is too big, the City has already aggressively brought down the size of the home plate area and home size. Public opinion was also not one-sided. The City's Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Farmers' Institute recommended to keep the current house size pending further observation and evaluation.

Derek Dang – Council candidate

Q: Richmond has a long-term contract with the RCMP, but it can be terminated with two years’ notice. Should we end our contract with the RCMP and form a municipal police force?

A: While we have been happy with the RCMP detachment, the agreement with the RCMP/Ottawa hasn't been as smooth.  For example, Richmond's ratio of officers to population is one of the lowest in the lower mainland.  Our ability to retain experienced policemen is also an issue.

Carol Day – Council candidate

Q: Do you support the city’s current plan to build 30 new towers, with 110 primarily residential units each, along No. 3 Road between Granville and Alderbridge Way?

A: Yes. New residential units which provide affordable housing for families, not for  foreign buyers speculation. We need to use our new developments to enhance our society and provide housing for both rentals and purchasing. The key to affordability is supply vacancy tax  would encourage more rentals and more occupied units.

Kelly Greene – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores

A: Yes, with restrictions. Cannabis will be legal for adult recreational use on October 17, 2018. We have laws restricting the sale of alcohol and tobacco, and we can create common-sense laws for cannabis. Restrictions must include: no sales near schools or playgrounds, safe hours of operation, and limited number of stores.

Jonathan Ho – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

A: Many professional reports already agree that consuming cannabis before the age of 25 will have detrimental effects on the brain development of young people. In order to protect them from the use of drugs, I don’t support cannabis retail stores to operate in Richmond.

Sunny Ho – Council candidate

Q: Do you prefer a twinned tunnel over a bridge to replace the current George Massey Tunnel?

A: No. Huge costs associated with initial planning and feasibility studies of the bridge that would be wasted if the plan scrapped is undesirable. Further consultation is needed.

Andy Hobbs – Council candidate

Q: Should the city commit more resources to expanding its geothermal facilities to ensure all 30 towers planned for the city centre area are on that power grid?

A: Yes. I am pro geothermal but how can I say yes to this without knowing anything about it?  My inclination is yes but I don’t know if it can be done from an engineering point of view.  How can someone say yes with no facts?

Ken Johnston – Council Candidate

Q: Should there be a bylaw making it mandatory to display English on signs?

We do not need a bylaw for English on signs because the current policy is working. We have a fulltime inspector ensuring the English on signs policy is adhered to. We have had 100% compliance with all business sign permits including English since 2015.

Dennis Page – Council candidate

Q: Should city councillors be allowed to personally invest in Richmond properties?

A: No. Something should be done to stop councillors from having an unfair economic advantage in local investments.

Alexa Loo – Council candidate

Q: Should there be a bylaw making it mandatory to display English on signs?

Yes. I voted for that the first go round.

Bill McNulty – Council candidate

Q: Should city councillors be allowed to personally invest in Richmond properties?

A: No response. Not answered because of ambiguity of question.

John Roston – Council candidate

Q: Do you support the city’s current plan to build 30 new towers, with 110 primarily residential units each, along No. 3 Road between Granville and Alderbridge Way?

A: No. This is a once only opportunity to require 60% of the units to be for rental and 80% of all the units to be multi-bedroom to provide the type of housing that we desperately need and to dramatically increase the number of available rental units to bring rental rates down.

Judie Schneider – Council candidate

Q: Is the city sufficiently supporting initiatives to help people in poverty?

A: No. We are in the worst housing crisis since WWII. We ranked in the top three most unaffordable cities in the Lower Mainland, yet our council hasn’t taken steps to partner with the provincial/federal governments to build more co-op housing. Vancouver is building 2000 units. Where is Richmond’s co-op plan?

Niti Sharma – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

A: Yes. Cannabis use is not benign and we need targeted education about cannabis use directed at youth and families.  I have voted yes for retail shops because then the city can regulate where these shops will be, who can run them and mandate standardized labelling of products (including edibles).  Medical cannabis should be sold through doctors and pharmacies.

Manjit Singh – Council candidate

Q: Is the city sufficiently supporting initiatives to help people in poverty?

A: No. The city need to reach out to low income adults especially those living in hardships and poverty, enough has not been done. If I am elected I will purpose the council to subsidize the travel costs on buses and skytrains,  recreation centres and allocate ready-made housing with  career centres for them.

Kerry Starchuk – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

A: Yes. Personally I do not support marijuana use for recreation. The Federal Government will legalize recreational use, now there are new profitable opportunities for many. Solid security measures need to be in place to ensure the product is not sold or marketed to youth, before business licenses can be approved.

Harold Steves – Council candidate

Q: Richmond has a long-term contract with the RCMP, but it can be terminated with two years’ notice. Should we end our contract with the RCMP and form a municipal police force?

A: No. The problem is not the RCMP but the fact that we have fewer police for our population than any other city. The cost of changing from the RMP to a local police force is $18 million. It would be better and cause less disruption to spend some of the money to hire more police.

Jason Tarnow – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

A: Prohibiting retail sales of cannabis sales will allow organized crime to continue selling it. If Richmond allows retails sales, it stamps out crime and we will collect millions in taxes.  

Jack Trovato – Council candidate

Q: Should Richmond allow retail cannabis stores?

Yes. We will strongly advocate for at least the same kinds of municipal controls on the sale of recreational cannabis as currently exist for the sale of alcohol (i.e. Richmond’s prohibition of alcohol retail outlets near schools) and, we would expect to set the same restrictions for legally approved recreational cannabis.

Michael Wolfe – Council candidate

Q: Should the 10,763-square-foot limit on home sizes on the ALR be decreased? 

A: Yes. I support setting the maximum house size on ALR and non-ALR farmland to 4,200sq.ft. This is the same size that the City allows in typical residential areas. The real-estate analyst Richard Wozny recommended this to the City. We cannot afford to delay; our food security is on the line.

Henry Yao – Council candidate

Q: Should there be a bylaw making it mandatory to display English on signs?

A: Yes. However, I do not support percentage based requirement for English on signs. I prefer font size sufficiency in reflection to the purpose of the sign. English needs to include business name and type. Other languages added are for advertisement, which businesses should have the right to utilize it creatively. 

Zhe Zhang – Council candidate

Q: Should the 10,763-square-foot limit on home sizes on the ALR be decreased? 

A: No. It's very hard to say Yes or No. If Richmond City wants to develop agri-tourism, a large mansion will be necessary. I don't think the present developmental model of Richmond agriculture is proper.  We need a better approach to curb ALR speculation.

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