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Richmond MLA Henry Yao promises a prosperous, climate-friendly future for all

Yao reflects on his first four years in office and outlines his re-election hopes
MLA Henry Yao and his team hosted a diaper and formula drive to raise funds and awareness for the Mamas for Mamas organization. Photo via Henry Yao

With two children under the age of four, Henry Yao knows that the status quo can’t continue with respect to our changing climate.

The first-term Richmond South Centre MLA is preparing for what he hopes will be a second successful term in Victoria and is looking to continue building a brighter, more collaborative climate future.

To that end, Yao proudly reflects on what he and his NDP colleagues were able to achieve towards environmental harmony despite a tumultuous four-year period highlighted by COVID-19 disruptions and economic challenges the world over.

Yao first points to the NDP’s Clean BC initiative, which aims to lower climate-changing emissions by 40 per cent in 2030. There was also a $13-million investment to help mitigate flood protection in Richmond specifically, along with the installation of electric vehicle chargers at key hubs across the Garden City.

“As an MLA, I regularly partner with community leaders to host invasive species removal events, community garbage cleanups, and urban forest planting sessions, to bring neighbours together while caring for our shared environment,” Yao says.

Years before his election as MLA for Richmond South Centre in 2020, Yao spent more than a decade paying it forward in the field of youth work.

Yao helped shape the lives of countless young people in Richmond and Vancouver through his work at the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, City Centre Community Association and in other mentorship capacities.

Throughout those roles, Yao helped teens and pre-teens develop career-building and leadership skills, while fostering a deep desire to better their communities.

“I had helped over 500 kids a year, doing lots and lots of fundraising, community engagement and working with other youth workers,” Yao recalls. “It was very meaningful work for me.”

Yao began the first of two municipal campaigns in 2014 and established the seeds of his vast community involvement that now sees him deeply connected to the local Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond Chinese Community Society. Yao also co-founded Dialogue Richmond Society, an organization dedicated to promoting safe, respectful, and constructive dialogues on difficult community topics.

Yao’s four years as an MLA are highlighted by numerous successful local fundraising campaigns: a newly refurbished and modernized cancer care clinic at Richmond Hospital; $1 million to help the Richmond Night Market endure COVID-19 challenges; $175,000 to assist language translation for Traditional Chinese Medicine examinations; the opening of two urgent and primary care centres in Richmond and millions of dollars invested in seismic upgrades across 11 local schools.  

When looking through a wider, provincial lens, Yao’s NDP team added 708 new family doctors in 2023; several policies were passed to protect renters; and legislation was introduced that puts limits on short-term rentals to help crack down on people profiting from empty homes.

As for his campaign talking points come October, Yao places an emphasis on affordable housing and cost of living, bolstering health care where and when residents need it and increased child-care options.

“I poured my heart and soul into the first four years since I’ve been elected,” Yao says.

Yao has also secured funding for significant community resources such as the Media Lab, home of the Richmond Youth Media Program, as well as the Richmond Caring Place, a home to local charitable organizations.