Our top 5 newsmakers of 2016 in Richmond

The News looks back on what made the headlines during the year

1 THE STENCH:

harvest
Richmond residents formed the Facebook group Stop the Stink Richmond, which aims to shut Harvest Power.

While Harvest Power had been stinking up Richmond for quite some time, the tipping point in this story came when the composting company was issued a new air quality permit on Sept. 30. While the most obvious issue is the crippling odours, what also became apparent was government’s response, or lack thereof. Cue resident Arnold Shuchat, who formed the Facebook group Stop the Stink Richmond, which aims to shut Harvest Power.

2017 outlook: How often will Harvest Power be forced to stop taking waste?

 

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2 SCHOOL CLOSURES:

school closures
Richmond parents turned out in their hundreds to protest proposed school closures. Their voices were heard

Dubbed by one letter writer as the three “mama bears,” Kim Nowitsky, Emma Dyck and Kelly Greene helped form the group Richmond Schools Stand United, taking it upon themselves to organize several public rallies to oppose the school closures process, as well as shed light on education funding, which they deemed to be the root cause of the closure proposals. School trustees ended the process after interpreting a letter from local Liberal MLAs — that outlined their financial commitment to seismic upgrades — to be the “golden ticket” that no schools will be forced to close.

2017 outlook: Back to the drawing board after election?

 

3 RACIST FLYERS:

protests
Two racist flyers, singling out Chinese immigrants and distributed around doors in Richmond, sparked a series of cross-culture community rallies

The U.S. presidential election of businessman Donald Trump, who often failed to denounce racist supporters, catalyzed widespread outbursts of racism across North America. In Richmond, this reality took hold when door-to-door flyers took aim at Chinese immigrants for driving up real estate costs and not speaking English. Community members gathered, however, and took to the streets in protest against the flyers.

2017 outlook: Will there be more effort to live in harmony?

 

4 FOREIGN BUYERS:

housing market
The housing market in Richmond continued to dominate the news in 2016, including at the site of this townhouse development, where tensions rose amid claims of people queue-jumping a pre-sale lineup

A nine-week collection of data on foreign home ownership by the provincial government revealed one in four homes in Richmond being sold to overseas buyers, largely from China. This not only led to some racist sentiment but also, in more reasoned circles of dialogue, serious concerns about affordable housing, taxation and Richmond turning into a “ghost city.” Numerous media reports pitted Richmond in the middle of matters such as: vacant homes, capital gains tax evasion, shady real estate transactions and speculation of farmland.

2017 outlook: Will the foreign home buyers’ tax prove ineffective? Is there a bubble? How big is it? And will it pop?

 

5 BYLAW VIOLATIONS:

illegal hotels
Illegal house-hotels operating in the city reached an all-time high, at least according to citizen complaints

Richmond residents continued to voice frustration over a lack of bylaw enforcement, or lack of bylaws all together.

Resident Cindy Lee formed the Facebook group Save Richmond Trees and took her concerns to city hall after finding mature trees were falling to mega homes. Lee contends existing bylaws do little to save trees. Furthermore, trees are being cut down illegally.

Meanwhile, illegal house-hotels operating in the city reached an all-time high, at least according to citizen complaints. One such hotel on Lancing Road was investigated by the Richmond News where it was revealed 19 guests were staying in 10 bedrooms.

2017 outlook: Will the city strengthen bylaw enforcement?

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