Always a great place to grow up!

Dang family has been in Richmond for almost 90 years and this city is always improving as a place for children, youth and families.

By Derek Dang, Richmond City Councillor

My family came to Richmond in 1930 – from Ladner. According to family lore, my grandfather’s brother lost the family farm gambling and they had to start over potato farming in Richmond. My wife, Margaret, and I are now happily raising the fourth generation of Rich

mondites in our family.

Originally, my grandfather came from China, in 1912. We still have the forms related to the head tax he paid for the right to come here. Ultimately, with the exception of our First Nations people, all of us, or our ancestors, came here from somewhere else. Some with a dream. Some out of desperation. As is so often the case, the first generation doesn’t always see the dream realized, but in so many instances, our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents set the foundations for a family’s success. This is the story of Canada. And it is the story of Richmond.

I grew up here, graduating from Richmond High and majored in political science at UBC. I didn’t choose Richmond. But I wouldn’t choose anywhere else. As we raise our family, I get to experience again, through them, what a great place this city is for young families.

For generations, Richmond has invested wisely in schools, recreation and community centres, libraries, parks, sports fields, public spaces and amenities that make this one of the most family-friendly, healthy lifestyle-oriented places in Canada. Our votes on council reflect our commitment to active bodies and minds for residents of all ages and abilities. This commitment to active engagement from childhood to later life is mirrored in the increasing diversity of housing choices we have here, so that multigenerational families can remain close and connected. Grandchildren and grandparents can enjoy time together.

These facilities are part of the reason Richmond residents tend to be healthy. We have one of the longest life expectancies in the country. We also have excellent medical and support staff at our hospital. Margaret is a doctor at Richmond Hospital and so I know firsthand how dedicated and competent the staff are. But we need to renew the hospital’s aging structure and we’re on the road to realizing that ambition so that everyone from newborns to seniors have access to the best facilities as well as the finest professional care.

Richmond is a safe place to grow up – and we’re making it safer. We’re hiring more police, fire and rescue personnel. We are improving traffic safety, equipping our infrastructure to withstand natural disasters and educating drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be defensive and cautious.

Marijuana can be extremely harmful to developing brains and, while Canada will legalize cannabis in October, cities can decide to regulate it. We are determined to keep retail pot shops out of Richmond.

We have an incredible volunteer culture in this community. Young people have so many opportunities to get involved in clubs or programs, athletics or artistic, and that’s an important way of getting people involved in their community.

We need to encourage younger people to take on leadership roles in volunteering and community agencies. Starting that sort of engagement early can instill lifelong involvement. As our population ages, we are going to need more people of all ages to take up the mantle of volunteerism and community engagement that so many seniors have so ably exemplified. We must equip the next generation of community leaders with the skills and desire to step up.

Youth also need to have their voices heard on issues that impact them, like transportation, employment, housing and safety.

Probably every family wonders whether the next generation is going to be able to afford to live in Richmond as demand for housing increases and housing prices, throughout Metro Vancouver, increase. Richmond is a leader on this front. Working collaboratively with the development and construction industries, we have doubled the percentage of rental accommodation required in new structures. And property taxes are among the lowest in the region, which takes some of the load off a family’s budget.

We’ve made it easier to get around by increasing the number of buses and adding to Canada Line frequency.

We are creating new childcare spaces – again through collaboration with industry – and we will continue to add more to meet the needs of young Richmond families.

This was certainly a different place when my grandfather brought our family here almost 90 years ago. It’s different than the place I grew up in. But this is a place where, as much as things change, this stays the same: Richmond is safe, healthy, livable and welcoming for children, youth and families.

As you consider your options in the civic election October 20, please vote for candidates who will continue the long tradition of policies and programs that support children, youth and families.

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For generations, Richmond has invested wisely in schools, recreation and community centres, libraries, parks, sports fields, public spaces and amenities that make this one of the most family-friendly, healthy lifestyle-oriented places in Canada.

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