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Old 12-22-2015, 09:21 PM   #1
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Yet Another English v. Mandarin Language War in Richmond...

TL;DR Version: Local townhouse board does all their meetings in Mandarin, with no verbal English translations. Read highlighted sections for more info.

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Andreas Kargut, a townhouse owner in Richmond, B.C., was shocked with the reply he got when he and a neighbour emailed their condo board this month asking to attend their next meeting.

The board president replied they were welcome to attend as observers.

“However, please understand the council team for this fiscal is using Mandarin as the preferred language for communication,” he went on.

“Therefore we have no intention of using English during the meeting on Dec. 8. That’s the most efficient way for the team this year.”


Kargut , one of the original owners in the 54-unit Wellington Court complex, built in 2004, said he felt discriminated against and filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“This isn’t like a social club. It’s a legal entity. And the legal language in Canada is English and French,” he said Tuesday.

Reached by phone, Ed Mao, the condo board president, confirmed the proceedings were conducted in Mandarin. However, he said all official documents, including contracts and minutes, are written in English.

He disputed the assertion the board was being racist or discriminatory.

“We’re a bunch of people trying to make (the board) work. We are new and have learning to overcome,” he said. “What has happened in the past was not working, that’s why lots of change happened.”

The squabble is the latest example of community tensions that have arisen in the wake of a huge demographic shakeup in the suburb south of Vancouver. More than half the population is ethnic Chinese.

The city recently posted a job opening for an inspector whose job would be to encourage businesses to comply with bylaws requiring signs to contain at least 50 per cent English.

This requires someone with an “ability to perform under pressure and deal with contentious and challenging situations in a diplomatic manner,” the posting said.

Kargut said there had never been problems with the condo board until last year when most non-Chinese speaking members were ejected after one owner gathered a large number of proxy votes.

He added he also became alarmed because the board only met a few times in the last fiscal year and cut ties in July with its long-time property manager, FirstService Residential.

Kargut said when he showed up on Dec. 8, the entire 1½-hour board meeting, which he says he recorded, was conducted in Mandarin, a language he does not speak.

When the board members reached the end of the meeting, they asked Kargut if he wished to ask any questions.

Kargut said he replied no.

“Where do you start? They were all leaving. How can you question when they’ve been talking a whole hour and a half (in Chinese)?” he said.

The human rights complaint, which Kargut says he filed for about 10 owners, asks that all meetings be carried out in English and a special meeting be held to elect a new council with each homeowner entitled to only one proxy.


It also asks for a “written apology from the (condo board) describing their conduct as discriminatory.”

“We are going to ask for financial retribution due to significant emotional distress.”

Officials at AA Property Management, the complex’s new property manager, declined to comment.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners’ Association, told the Richmond News a few language problems have arisen in the suburb over the years that were resolved with English-to-Mandarin translation being provided but not the other way around.

A spokeman for the provincial housing ministry told the Richmond News the Strata Property Act does not specify what language condo board meetings should be conducted in.

English speaking B.C. condo owner files human rights complaint after board holds meetings in Mandarin | National Post
Vaguely surprised something like this hasn't come out into the light earlier, to be honest.
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:33 PM   #2
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:33 PM   #3
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Richmond be crazy.

In before all the signs are changed to Mandarin-only
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Old 12-22-2015, 10:01 PM   #4
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The national post article is written with a more neutral tone towards the matter. This Richmond News article presents the matter in a more inflammatory way, and provides more supporting reason for doing so:

Chinese-only strata council prompts human rights complaint

Quote:
A group of Richmond homeowners has filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal after allegedly being discriminated against by a new Chinese-speaking strata council.

Andreas Kargut, who filed the claim on behalf of several other Wellington Court strata members, told the Richmond News a group of Mandarin-speaking homeowners purposefully voted out non-Mandarin speaking members from council.

Since then, the new council has moved to conduct all official business, including council meetings, in Mandarin.

“Anyone they deemed who was non-Mandarin speaking, they ousted,” said Kargut.

Wellington Court is a 54-unit townhouse development on Heather Street near Garden City Park.

“For the most part, it was a very harmonious place to live,” said Kargut.

The new council was largely formed in 2014 after one Chinese member gathered a large number of proxy ballots to vote out the non-Mandarin speaking council members, contended Kargut.

A recent email to Kargut from the new strata president, Ed Mao, states: “We have no intention of using English during the meeting on December the 8th. That’s the most efficient way for the team this year.”

Mao could not be reached for comment.

Kargut said some strata members took issue with a paint job that had cost overruns following the discovery of some rotting wood beams in need of replacement.

He said the members started rumours that the non-Mandarin speakers were stealing from the contingency fund.


The present council also fired its long-time property manager, First Service Residential (via Colliers in a portfolio acquisition), with 37 proxy ballots this summer.

“So now we have an all-Manadarin speaking council that fired our property manager and brought on another company.

“I think they were searching for a property manager that was cheaper,” said Kargut, who attended the last meeting as an observer.

“I wanted to see if they had the nerve to go ahead with (Mandarin only),” he said.

“At the end, he asked if I had any questions, but how was I supposed to ask any questions when I couldn’t understand what was going on for the past hour and a half?” noted Kargut.

Prior to the alleged discriminatory takeover, the past council had offered official interpretation services for Mandarin speakers. Wellington Court also already featured several bilingual outdoor signs.

Kargut said the new council told him it would hire its own interpreter for English speakers but not an official interpreter. He suspects that decision had to do with costs.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Homeowners’ Association, told the Richmond News he’s never seen a case like this. While he’s seen “three or four” instances in Richmond over the past five years concerning language problems, all of them have been resolved “quickly” with English-to-Mandarin translation services, not the other way around.

There is nothing in the B.C. Strata Property Act that defines what languages can be used in official strata meetings. However, Gioventu noted that official languages apply to legislative procedures and the court systems.

“The big question is whether that would extend to a strata corporation because it is bound by provincial legislation,” said Gioventu.

The News asked the Ministry Responsible for Housing for legal clarification.

“The Strata Property Act does not specify what language strata meetings should be conducted in or require interpretation services. A strata corporation may wish to get advice from a lawyer on how best to meet the various language preferences of its owners,” the Ministry said, via email.

“It’s a human rights issue in any case because English and French are our official languages and these individuals are not capable of communicating for the business of their strata underneath provincial legislation. So that’s what opens the door,” added Gioventu.

He said the problem in Richmond may lie in the extreme concentration of Mandarin speakers in the city.

“I don’t know what the solution is.

“I go to some communities where everyone speaks Punjabi, and there’s only one person who doesn’t speak Punjabi, and they’re very respectful and conduct their business in English. But, even there, there have been some serious misunderstandings about how the law applies as a result of the interpretations,” noted Gioventu, who believes it is imperative to have official translation services.

Presently, strata fees are under $200 per month, Kargut said, but the fear amongst the outcast members is that the property will not be maintained properly.

Kargut points to a cement slab at the sidewalk entrance to one of the homes that has recently been raised. It poses a tripping hazard to visitors and is on common property.

“We’d usually have that fixed in no time, but it’s just sitting there now,” he said.

Gioventu said immigrants from densely populated cities tend not to understand the concept of common property and its required maintenance.

“It’s not just a Chinese thing.

“One of the challenges we have seen is there’s a sense of basically running your building to failure. You use it as best you can, and then you sell it off because land is in such high demand,” he said.

The complaint has yet to be considered by the Tribunal.
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Old 12-22-2015, 10:25 PM   #5
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First off, the national post article is wrong in that this guy is not an original owner of the condo unit because I was the previous owner of that condo and this guy bought my unit just earlier this year

but anyway, input I wanted to make was that the previous board WAS in fact very corrupt and I would not be surprised at all to learn they were stealing from the contingency fund

personally I thought the newly formed council was doing a great job, I never attended a meeting and I don't speak Mandarin but they let go of the previous property manager, who wanted us to keep the place in absolute perfect condition (we suspect to keep our property values up and their own portfolio value up) despite maintenance not necessarily being required
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Old 12-22-2015, 10:38 PM   #6
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There's 2 sides to every story... I'm sure there's something not right there, but for all we know this dude making the claims is a total nut job himself... Wait until all the facts come out before jumping to conclusions.......


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Old 12-22-2015, 11:50 PM   #7
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Old 12-22-2015, 11:54 PM   #8
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There is no way strata meeting was in Mandarin.

because Chinese owners do not attend strata meeting.
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:52 AM   #9
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saw it on the news today, the strata president refused to comment to the news

non mandarin speaking owners were allowed to attend the meeting, but other than a greeting, in english, upon entry, the meetings were held in mandarin

this is according to two separate owners

unbelievable... at least one owner has brought the matter to the human rights tribunal, no doubt he'll win, but will it change anything...
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:33 AM   #10
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should sell Richmond to China and bomb all the bridges for god's sake
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:50 AM   #11
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There's 2 sides to every story... I'm sure there's something not right there, but for all we know this dude making the claims is a total nut job himself... Wait until all the facts come out before jumping to conclusions.......


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I'm Chinese and i think this is pretty ridiculous that the strata meeting was in Mandarin. This is after all canada, if they can't understand english then don't attend or learn the language. At most offer bilingual meetings. You don't see strata meetings in Surrey held in punjabi only. Regardless if the previous council was corrupt, the official language is english in canada. Not Chinese.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:03 AM   #12
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$200 strata fee for a townhouse built in 2004 is very low... I guess people would let the place run with minimum preventive maintenance
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:13 AM   #13
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A lot of people in Vancouver, Richmond, etc... that have a high amount of Chinese/HK people in their area would be doing themselves a favor if they learned more about the culture, language etc... that is coming into their neighborhoods. I
am not saying that they are right for speaking Mandarin in these meetings, this is flat out wrong unless it is a private group that you willingly join. Many people who are first generation or even early second generation Canadian could learn a lot from the way things are done in Asia and apply it to actually benefit from the large Asian population currently in the Lower Mainland which will surely continue to grow.
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Old 12-23-2015, 05:48 AM   #14
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There is no way strata meeting was in Mandarin.

because Chinese owners do not attend strata meeting.
Sure they do, to veto any increase in strata fees and try to vote down improvements which costs $$$ lol
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:53 AM   #15
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non mandarin speaking owners were allowed to attend the meeting, but other than a greeting, in english, upon entry, the meetings were held in mandarin

this is according to two separate owners
That's exactly what the one guy said - he went to the meeting, sat through it all, but had no idea what was going on because he couldn't understand a word of it.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:00 AM   #16
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Is not just the old Chinese that don't bother to learn English even university or international students as well. So many times I ran into Chinese who look like no more than 30 and doesn't speak English. If you are not retired make an effort to at least learn the basic of English. I don't bother speaking Chinese if they ask me anything instead I answer in English.

Don't like to learn English, either learn that not everyone around you will speak Chinese or go back to where you come from.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:04 AM   #17
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Is not just the old Chinese that don't bother to learn English even university or international students as well. So many times I ran into Chinese who look like no more than 30 and doesn't speak English. If you are not retired make an effort to at least learn the basic of English. I don't bother speaking Chinese if they ask me anything instead I answer in English.

Don't like to learn English, either learn that not everyone around you will speak Chinese or go back to where you come from.
Could someone translate this into English please?
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:05 AM   #18
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I'll make it plain and simple

I fucking hate people who don't bother to learn a lick of English in Canada.
No reason you give is defensible unless you're fucking mute, retarded, deaf or all of those
This isn't your fucking country. Get over yourself and learn some fucking English you cunt. It's not that hard.
You're getting sheltered from whatever shit place you came from so the least you can fucking do is learn the language and use it.
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Old 12-23-2015, 07:34 AM   #19
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Canada opened it doors to you - have some fucking respect.
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Old 12-23-2015, 08:38 AM   #20
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As much as I agree with all you about how people who come to Canada should learn some fucking english, our government is way too pussy to enforce these laws or whatever. We are so "tolerant" of other people's cultures, traditions or whatever that Canada has stopped growing, improving, and lost their identity altogether
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Old 12-23-2015, 08:56 AM   #21
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As much as I agree with all you about how people who come to Canada should learn some fucking english, our government is way too pussy to enforce these laws or whatever. We are so "tolerant" of other people's cultures, traditions or whatever that Canada has stopped growing, improving, and lost their identity altogether
Or rather the gov is too pussy to drive these rich foreign people away if they enforce any English requirement.
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Old 12-23-2015, 09:34 AM   #22
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probably b/c they tried to reach him in english
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Old 12-23-2015, 09:39 AM   #23
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I'll make it plain and simple

I fucking hate people who don't bother to learn a lick of English in Canada.
No reason you give is defensible unless you're fucking mute, retarded, deaf or all of those
This isn't your fucking country. Get over yourself and learn some fucking English you cunt. It's not that hard.
You're getting sheltered from whatever shit place you came from so the least you can fucking do is learn the language and use it.
You come off as someone who is grossly patronizing, almost xenophobia, by your swearing and cursing. By the many "thanks" condoning your post, it obviously shows the demographic and education level of this forum.

Now, you say this isn't their "country", but is this country yours? Wasn't the land we are all occupying now belonged to the Indigenous people? Did we really respect those people's culture, language, and property rights and not treat those people with any discrimination?

Here is a quote from Wikipedia on Duncan Campbell Scott who was the guy running the Department of Indian Affairs for almost 20 years:

"In 1920, under Scott's direction, and with the concurrence of the major religions involved in native education, an amendment to the Indian Act made it mandatory for all native children between the ages of seven and fifteen to attend school. Attendance at a residential school was made compulsory. Although a reading of Bill 14 states that no particular kind of school was stipulated. Scott was in favour of residential schooling for aboriginal children, as he believed removing them from the influences of home and reserve would hasten the cultural and economic transformation of the whole aboriginal population. In cases where a residential school was the only kind available, residential enrollment did become mandatory, and aboriginal children were compelled to leave their homes, their families and their culture, with or without their parents' consent. However, in 1901, 226 of the 290 Indian schools across Canada were day schools, and by 1961, the 377 day schools far outnumbered the 56 residential institutions."

I guess it is okay for a white man treat others with disdain but not the other around for the Chinese now. By the way, I am not in agreement with all the improper decorum displayed by the Chinese in case you are wondering. However, the saying "what goes around, comes around" comes to my mind.
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Old 12-23-2015, 10:01 AM   #24
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^^^ I hope you realize that he's Chinese and most of the people that agree with his sentiment either weren't born here or are children of immigrants. Immigrants that for the most part, didn't take for granted that they were allowed into this country and given the opportunity for a better future for themselves and their children. In return and out of appreciation for that opportunity, the least they could do is live harmoniously with the people who were already here, by being able to communicate with them in the acceptable language.

I agree that it isn't their country not because we don't accept them...... because they don't accept us.
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Old 12-23-2015, 10:17 AM   #25
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Without knowing the full story (or at least a fuller story), the only definitive thing I can say is -- the stupid strata council literally brought this trouble onto themselves. The English speaking dude clearly (or at least, likely) had a bone to pick when he went to sit in on the strata council meeting. Had the council members been smarter, they would have realized this and offered to translate the conversations to him in English. This would have shut him up and not give him an excuse to file that complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal.

As the matter currently stands, I don't really see any reason why the English speaking dude would not win the complaint. When the results come back, the tribunal could order the strata council to do anything between simply providing a translator for anyone wishing to listen in on the Mandarin council meeting, to requiring the council meeting to be conducted in English. The strata council is the one that has everything to lose and nothing to gain by being so stupid arrogant.
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