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Year in Review: Richmond's top 5 non-COVID stories of 2020

Blacks Lives Matter, Christy Mahy's family and friends, U.S. wildfires, gangland killings and the B.C. election all managed to keep COVID off the front pages for a short time

June 4 and 11:

As the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement swept the continent in spring, protests also sprung up closer to home in Vancouver and Richmond.

Richmondite La Toya Barrington had no plans to attend the racial justice protest in Downtown Vancouver, over the earlier death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

In fact, the Richmond mom-of-three didn’t even know there was a protest until she saw a post on a wall while walking through Vancouver.

So there was no one more shocked than Barrington when, about two hours later, she stood on the steps of Vancouver Art Gallery and relived, through a microphone to 3,500 strangers, a lifetime of racial abuse as a Black woman growing up in Richmond.

Barrington later helped organize a protest in her hometown, where hundreds of people lined No. 3 Road in Richmond to bring awareness to the BLM cause.

And a week later, another Richmond native, Declan Rodriguez, led 200 people on a walk from Hugh Boyd soccer fields to Floyd Avenue to also protest the death of Floyd.


Aug. 20:

It had been six years and 14 days since 36-year-old Richmond woman Christy Mahy lost her life at the hands of a driver, who apparently lost control and hit the pedestrian at the intersection of Russ Baker Way and the Dinsmore Bridge.

From the grief that wept from the small crowd gathered outside Richmond Provincial Court, you would have thought it was yesterday.

Mahy’s sister and her friends were there to witness the first appearance in a Canadian court of Erjon Kashari, the man accused of killing Mahy and who had only been extradited from his native Albania two days prior.

Kashari was in Canada on a work permit at the time his Pontiac SUV plowed into Mahy as she stood on the sidewalk, waiting to cross.

Despite there being witnesses to the accident and Kashari remaining at the scene, he was able to leave the country and was only charged, in his absence, five years later with criminal negligence causing the death of Mahy.

He has since made multiple appearances in court, via video link, with the case barely moving an inch since his August extradition.


Sept. 17:

Richmondites walking or running along the West Dyke Trail normally marvel, especially in the nicer weather, at the spectacular views across YVR. 

However, such was the extent of the late summer wildfires in Washington and Oregon states in the U.S. that those views gradually all but disappeared.

Three pictures taken at the exact same spot by Steveston resident Kristene Murray over a space of three days illustrated just how much pollution had drifted north to the Lower Mainland in B.C.

Compounding the misery for local residents was thick, acrid smoke blowing west from a massive fire at the pier in New Westminster, resulting in Hamilton elementary being closed for a day.


Sept. 24:

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called in after 44-year-old Jian Jun Zhu, who was known to police, died of gunshot wounds after a gangland-style hit at the Manzo restaurant on Capstan Way.

A second shooting victim, a man in his fifties, who has not been officially named but is also known to police, was treated for non-life threatening injuries and was later released from hospital.

IHIT said the incident was believed to be targeted and asked the public for help in identifying any vehicles involved.

Zhu was also an alleged money launderer tied to an underground bank in Richmond, while the Vancouver Sun reported the wounded man was Paul King Jin.


Oct. 24:

There was a sea change in Richmond’s political landscape, which largely turned orange after the B.C. provincial election.

Formerly a BC Liberal Party stronghold, the BC NDP snatched three of the four seats, with Aman Singh overthrowing Jas Johal in Richmond-Queensborough, city councillor Kelly Greene beating out rookie Matt Pitcairn in Richmond-Steveston and Henry Yao edging a tight race against another serving city councillor, Alexa Loo, in Richmond South Centre.

The BC Liberals’ only survivor was incumbent Teresa Wat, who comfortably swept aside NDP rookie Jaeden Dela Torre in Richmond North Centre.

BC Liberal incumbents and veterans Linda Reid and John Yap declared their retirements prior to the election.

The new MLAs were part of the reason for an “orange wave” rolling over the province for a convincing majority.