Letters extra: Richmond News readers chime in on "white folks" mansions

Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

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I felt Wes Fung brought up some interesting points in his letter, so I thought I would examine his hypothesis and see what I come up with.

To start with, he points to the Hearst Castle as a beacon of what is possible in architecture. Well I would have to agree with him, a stunning vision with “Casa Grande” coming in at an impressive 68,500sqft sitting on 250,000 acres of land. It took decades to design and build with hundreds of artists and craftsmen involved. It was adorned with incredible works of art that today would be worth over $100 million.

In comparison, we have 9,000 sq. ft. homes built on 1 acre and constructed in 12-18 months with $50k-$70k media rooms, wow, what a tour that will be in the future.

With a simple Google search, Mr. Fung would have learned all that, but I am guessing he used the Hearst Castle as an example because he couldn’t find a local house that was worth talking about. Ok, strike one!

Next he mentions the hypocrisy of us overlords, the ones that used to live in large mansions but are now the complaining “subservient masses.”

Of course, I would not expect him to mention these overlords he refers to ruled over the masses at a time when slavery was still rampant and there was only the rich and the poor.

Or is he trying to insinuate that the people who want to live in these houses are our overlords. That they are being treated unfairly by not being allowed to exercise their authoritative dominance over their ungrateful “subservient masses.”

Well, strike two!

Lastly, we get this whites vs. them issue. Where do we go with this?

We live in a county that is so oppressive it doesn’t afford the “non-whites” the same rights and privileges. Really?

I can only imagine that if I had made similar comments there would be people standing on rooftops calling me a racist, but of course that is only because I am the majority.

But wait, I’m the minority so does that mean I’m allowed to stand on the rooftop when someone in the majority tries to isolate me and blame me for all their perceived problems?

Hmm, nope, I thought about it and unlike Mr. Fung, I will continue to have this conversation on the merits of the issues, not race. Strike three!

Mr. Fung has set the bar himself, when he is capable of coming forth with a comparable house in Richmond to the Hearst Castle, not a house 1/10th the size on 1/250,000th the acreage, I’ll be here to have a realistic conversation.

Until then, I won’t be the one stoking the fires.

Jesse Arnold



Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

The size of the house is not the real issue. The fact that it is built on precious farmland that can never be replaced is. That and the reality that so many are built as stores of value with little intent to actually live there.


I’m anxiously awaiting the chance to go buy blueberries from the monstrosity being built at Steveston and No. 4 Road that will be minimally farmed to maintain “farm” status.

Chris Dyck



Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

Wes Fung accused us of having a “double standard” regarding the monster houses being built in Richmond. Mr. Fung accused us of approving and glorifying monster houses and mansions that were built by “white” folk and then criticizing new immigrants when they build a monster house.

Mr. Fung cited Michael Buble's house and the Hearst Castle. Perhaps Mr. Fung doesn't realize that neither of those homes are in Richmond. Mr. Buble's house is in Burnaby and the Hearst Castle isn't even in Canada!!

What we are concerned about is the farm land in Richmond that is being used for mansions and that farm land is lost forever.

Richmond has the richest soil in Canada. It is the very best farm land. Some farmers have been able to harvest three crops per year. With monster houses on that land - real farming is gone forever.

We can buy food from China, Mexico and California. But the quality of that food - the freshness and nutritional value are seriously depleted.

Mr. Fung suggests we take pride in accepting the monster houses. Perhaps he is not aware that we - as Canadians - take pride in planning for the future. We want to guarantee that our children and grand-children eat the best food we can give them - now and in the future.

Also there are many, many trees being demolished to make way for monster houses being built on every street in Richmond. Trees play a vital role in removing carbon dioxide from the air and liberating oxygen. They play a vital role in maintaining our ecosystems.

We need clean air and healthy food for our survival. Apparently Mr. Fung is not aware of this. Nor is Malcolm Brodie.

Eleanor Hamilton



Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

In regards to the recent letter from Wes Fung, if you are going to use examples, make sure they work.

Let's start with his example of Hearst Castle. If Mr. Fung read his history books he would know that house was originally built on 250,000 acres.

The reason many people object to these monster homes is because they are simply too large for their lot and jammed in to tiny spaces. Or they are visually imposing upon the neighbourhood. If these monster homes were being built on wide open spaces I would have no issue with them.

As for his other example of Michael Buble's house being lauded, it was in fact, originally, protested. That's how people knew it was being built as concerned neighbours complained.

The neighbourhood I live in has seen many new "monster" homes built. Some of been done well and some have not. The ones that have been done well take into consideration the surrounding environment and work with it.

Jacqueline Morrison



Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

First of all, I am offended by this racist stereotype that this man has used in his subject line.

It's truly sad and very disheartening to see that some are still attaching stereotypes to others to fit an agenda they have. By breaking things down in an “us and them” way like this, he is part of the problem, not any solutions.

As a white person, how does this fellow know what my standards are? He doesn't and it's offensive to use racism as a ploy to gain the upper hand.

This attempt to divide in order to conquer is, transparent and extremely unacceptable. We should not allow blatant racism to go unchecked as it perpetuates the problem.

So let me correct him: "Some people in Richmond have double standards.” I fear he may be included in that.

With that, there is a huge difference between heritage houses, Michael Buble's home and what is happening here.

The mansions springing up here are to a great extent, being proven to be for speculation purposes as they are advertised and being used as air bnb's and other businesses, NOT family "homes".

They are hotel type money makers that allow the rich to get richer, currently, at the expense of others who struggle to keep up. As focuses in the real estate market shift in order for some to avoid taxes and regulations, the new targets are farmland and presale condos.

These are quite different than heritage houses or Michael Buble's place of residence.

There is a surge of activity in development here that is unlike anything from the past. So to compare the two misses the mark completely. This is all about people investing here....some, just parking money in order to generate even more wealth. There are flips and vacant property that resemble nothing we've seen in the past.

There is little in the way of contributing a whole lot to the betterment of the community, infrastructure or future of the city.

It's self serving.

It's not "homeowners" gobbling up property by the block to demolish and then build multiple units on. It's developers and speculators, who have now found an "in" with farmland. As this council has failed to close loopholes or address the matter, this is the new space to acquire in the game of monopoly.

Many building these mansions aren't actually going to live in them...they're selling them. In bulk.

Buble is building his dream home in order to live in it. It's vastly different.

Buble is also a huge philanthropist...at last count, he supports 35 charities and causes. He has a history here and reinvests in the community that he loves. Unlike those who "donate" and contribute mostly to campaigns during elections in order to reap the benefits down the road, his causes benefit others and are not self serving or with motives. He gives back selflessly.

We have numbered companies as owners of many of these mansions. Anonymity, often with nothing more than housewives and students being listed on the. No history, no paper trail...not even names attached to these mansions.

Heritage means something. It suggests some roots or history. Something special that is earned over time. These new McMansions hardly qualify. They're unique and there is no real history attached to them. Patience, grasshoppers.

It's a whole different ballgame. Please don't attach Michael Buble to what is happening here.

We all know who he is and what he's done to make this a better place. Perhaps, if we want to start considering these mansions in the same light, it starts with revealing the who's, what's and where's of occupancy and ownership in order to establish a "history" for future generations.

Mansions used to be special, not the norm. These new monstrosities are cropping up side by side and many will sit unoccupied or will be used as anything but "homes".

There is a whole lot of new "activity" under scrutiny in Richmond at the current time and much of it is rooted in the exploitation of casinos and real estate and involving money laundering.

This isn't something of pride and heritage. We're being used as an ATM for the ultra-rich, some of whom are involved in shady deals and questionable acquisition of assets, including some of these mega resort type mansions. They are more a source of shame than heritage and pride.

These statuses are not simply granted based on square footage....they're earned by way of history, contribution, pride and ownership.

I suggest the letter writer begin to research some of this history in order to fully appreciate and respect it for what it is.

D. Wilded



Dear Editor,

Re: “White folks have double standards,” Letters online, Sept. 30.

It is not about who is building these houses, it’s what is being built.

The house built by Michael Buble was built on a 2.3 acre lot, not on a standard 66 x 100 foot city lot which is what most of the “monster” houses are being built on in Richmond.

There are several of these houses being built in my neighbourhood.  What are they thinking building a “multi- family” dwelling in a single family neighbourhood!

The houses cover 80% of the lot, leaving very little space between them and their neighbours. There is no consideration given when these towering houses are built.

Neighbouring properties are left with greatly reduced sun exposure, flooding yards due to water draining in from the new properties and blinding unnecessary exterior lights.

There is also no neighbourhood feel because many of these houses are left vacant.

It is very difficult for you to ask us to look at these houses with “a sense of pride,” when all they leave us with is a sense of disappointment.

Natascha Mohr





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