News Roundup – 12/20/13

1.

A cranberry farm worker’s death has prompted changes in safety standards for berry cultivators, the News and Review reported. Geraldine Auston, spokesperson for the B.C. Cranberry Growers says workers will now wear life jackets. The worker died after apparently falling in a drainage trench. Investigations by WorkSafe BC continue.

Richmond produces about half of the province’s cranberries. The berries are cultivated by flooding fields in about three feet of water then shaking the berries off the vines with a cultivator to make them float for easy collection.

Ocean Spray of Canada Inc. is located in Richmond.

2.

Robert Yoneda, the former coordinator of the South Arm Community Centre, pled guilty to theft over $5,000 after he was found to have stolen close to $200,000 from the city facility dating back to 2006. He will be sentenced March 12, 2014. His lawyer declined comment to the Review.

3.

BC Emergency Health Services and the City of Richmond have agreed to build a new $21 million joint fire hall and ambulance station by early 2017 at No.4 Road and Cambie Road. It’s believed combining the two needs into one facility will save money, the city says. The new fire house will become the primary training centre for Richmond Fire Rescue. News release can be found here.

4.

The city has procurred about $20 million from developers for 100 “critically-needed” subsidized rental housing units, according to a city news release. The Granville Avenue development was announced after a closed special council meeting this week.

“The $19.8 million funding comes from current and future developer-paid funds which are collected as part of the City’s development approval process and placed into the City’s Affordable Housing Reserve Fund strictly for this purpose,” the release stated.

The development is expected to be completed by spring 2016 and is located across from City Hall.

Malcolm Brodie said the goal is to provide housing with rents not exceeding $850 per month.

The press release also made note that earlier this month the city approved the “disbursement” of the first half of the $20 million required for an affordable housing project for seniors at a twin 15-story Kiwanis Senior Citizens Housing Society development across from Richmond Centre mall on Minoru Boulevard.

That development was announced in April, 2013.

The news is surely welcome by affordable housing advocates but questions remain as to whether suburban cities like Richmond are doing enough to fund housing low-income families.

Recently, Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs took aim at surrounding municipalities for not doing their fair share in helping solve affordable housing problems across the region.

“I think it’s long overdue that people looked at the housing crisis in the region as a regional problem,” he told The Tyee.

Despite having a population just three times larger, Vancouver spends about eight times more money from its capital budget than Richmond plans to in 2014.