Page 3

T H E

R I C H M O N D

N E W S

Upfront

The Richmond News May 31. 2013 A3

NEW EXHIBIT NOW OPEN

Meet the new kid in politics Chance to serve as MLA fulfills late husband’s wishes

BY PHILIP RAPHAEL

praphael@richmond-news.com

You could readily understand if Teresa Wat thought about casting her gaze heavenwards the night of the B.C. election. But it wouldn’t have been in response to the astonishing come-from-behind win by her fellow B.C. Liberals — a result many pollsters and media types predicted had a slim to zero chance of happening. No, an upturned look would have been an appreciative gesture recognizing the driving force behind her decision to enter the fray of provincial politics — her late husband, Stephen Lee. “You know, I was thinking about my husband,” said Wat, the 63-year-old rookie candidate who topped the polls in the riding of Richmond Centre in convincing fashion. “I thought, thank God, you chose a path for me.” Wat says she was inspired to put her name on the ballot paper when Lee, who passed away from lung cancer in 2011, told her she needed to re-align her life to include giving back to the community. It was a philosophy he carried with him all his life as the second oldest in a family of nine. Lee had to forsake a university education to become an elementary school teacher in Hong Kong and help support his parents and siblings. “He was very involved in the community, very involved in the student movement,” said Wat, who met her husband in journalism school in Hong Kong. “I am just the opposite type of person — very hard working, a very diligent student getting straight As. He thought people should be more rounded, more balanced. “He told me ‘don’t just concentrate on your own work. You are a good employee, you do your best. But spend some time getting involved in the community.’ “But being me, I am always trying to do one job at a time. I am a perfectionist. I always want to get the best result I can.” But just how giving her husband was to others

Accessibility info goes digital Richmond first to embrace ratings tool BY PHILIP RAPHAEL

praphael@richmond-news.com

PHILIP RAPHAEL/RICHMOND NEWS

Rookie politician Teresa Wat says she enjoyed door-knocking in the riding of Richmond Centre and is looking forward to getting on with representing her constituents in the B.C. Legislature. wasn’t apparent to Wat until she happened upon an example while in California for a family wedding in the mid-1990s. “We were walking in a shopping mall and a middle-aged lady came over and said, “Sir.” They called their teachers sir in Hong Kong,” Wat said. “‘Sir, I am so grateful to you, Mr. Lee, for my school fees and textbooks.’ It turned out she was one of his former elementary students. And he paid their school fees if they were poor. Then I knew just how great a guy he was.” Wat carried that with her over the years as she steadily built her career in media — currently, she is president and COO of AM 1320 Mainstream

Broadcasting Corporation, a multi-cultural radio station. But finding the hours to get involved in the community proved hard after leaving Hong Kong for Canada in 1989. “Once you come to a new country, things can be quite challenging,” Wat said, adding it wasn’t until her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and given a year to live that she slowed down the pace of her life. The diagnosis was understandably hard to accept. And the situation was made worse by the fact that the same day doctors broke the news to her and her husband, Wat’s only sister died. see Wat page 6

Information on how accessible some public buildings and businesses are just got much easier to find. On Wednesday morning, Richmond became the first municipality in the country to adopt planat.com, a digital media tool that catalogs and rates the level of access of buildFor video ings and open spaces. The tool, developed through the Richmond-based Rick Hansen Foundation, provides data on sites compiled from the experience of every day users who upload their reviews on accessibility, and those businesses that have been professionally or self-reviewed. Planat uses a five-star rating system to judge the level of accessibility. To date, more than 17,000 venues in 20 countries have been reviewed and added to see Planat page 4

City spokesman says Big City Spenders report is a ‘fail’ B.C.’s new auditor general for municipalities announced Wednesday that two of her first performance audits will look at cost containment measures in 18 local governments. The announcement came on the same day that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business released a Big City Spenders report

that suggests Canadian municipalities — which often complain about not having enough money to provide services and infrastructure — have a spending problem rather than a revenue one. The assertion followed a look at the country’s four biggest cities — Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary — that showed spending

over the last 12 years has risen by more than 55 per cent, far in excess of population growth and the rate of inflation. The CFIB also compiled figures for four Metro Vancouver cities, including Surrey, Richmond, West Vancouver and Burnaby. The City of Richmond argues the report ignores the fact that many services are driven by

customer demand; if YVR, for instance, wants more police officers, the city has to provide them, which increases spending. “They’re only looking at one side of the balance sheet,” said city spokesperson Ted Townsend. “This is a simplistic analysis. If this was turned in as an economics paper for a university course, it

would get a failing grade.” Officials in Richmond maintain they have kept property taxes at the rate of inflation, raising funds through other user-pay fees for noncore functions to provide services. The report was released ahead of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention Friday. — Vancouver Sun

Vancouver SE Marine Dr.

Richmond

Knight Bridge

Fraser River

Richmond News May 31  
Richmond News May 31  

Richmond News May 31

Advertisement